Current Thoughts on Pressgram

Pressgram is an iOS app with a great story and a great tagline.

The best way to filter & publish photos to your WordPress-powered site.

I’ll admit not paying much attention to anything beyond my assumption of the concept for the last 6 months, though I was still excited to try Pressgram almost immediately when the app launched to the public last week. And while I have some reservations, my overall outlook is hopeful and I’m planning on finding ways to use it.

First thought.

Pressgram is just as much a service as it is an app. Terms of service are an unavoidable thing when running a service. In order to keep operating and avoid liability issues, the terms will likely be written in favor of the service rather than the user. This doesn’t mean the user loses all rights, or that the service is out to get the user, it’s just legals.

That said, terms of service lead to things like content moderation. Not necessarily a bad thing for a community sharing photos with each other. Not necessarily an ideal thing for publishing to your own site.

Which leads into my assumptions, or wishful thinking. When I first heard of Pressgram, my brain went straight to how it would be great to have an app on my phone that would take pictures and publish them directly to WordPress. I’ve been trying to find the right workflow for a while that does just that. The WordPress app is probably pretty close right now, but nothing is perfect.

Second thought.

Pressgram sends photos to a central server (or servers) first and then proceeds to push them out to whichever services were selected—Twitter, Facebook, WordPress—while also focusing on providing that photo to other Pressgram users through the feed.

In order to do this, Pressgram needs authorization. With Twitter and Facebook, OAuth provides a layer of separation between our passwords and Pressgram. With WordPress, we have XMLRPC over HTTP, which requires a username and password for each connection. This isn’t really any different than when uploading photos through a browser. The only difference is that Pressgram needs to store this username and password combo on a server somewhere so that the user isn’t bugged for it every time a photo needs to be published.

So my feeling around this is that it’s kind of a bummer to give over my site’s username and password in the hopes that it is well taken care of. There are ways to mitigate the worry. With my single author site, I can just create another author user and assign a unique password for use with Pressgram. With more complex sites, there is likely room for a plugin that provides one off authorization passwords for use by apps that rely on XMLRPC. I guess it’s even likely that it exists already.

All that said, I have a pretty short wish list at this point:

  1. Some transparency around password management. What is being done on the server side to protect users’ WordPress sites?
  2. Photo uploading from iOS app directly to WordPress over XMLRPC, no middleman.

Those are my ramblings, hopefully more constructive than fleeting tweets. I’m going to knock around some plugins to solve my near term worries so that I can keep using the app and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where it goes. All in all John Saddington has done a great job thus far.

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