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iExpression iPhone App for EE

Last week RED When Excited launched a new iPhone app that allows you to publish to your EE-powered website right from your phone: iExpression. This is a native iPhone app, which you need to purchase and download through the Apple App Store (store link).

screenshot of iExpressionRWE sent me a promo copy of the app to test out. I would best describe it as a EE-focused version of MarsEdit (which I use to publish this blog) for the iPhone. Like MarsEdit, it also works using the Metaweblog API (there’s a module that ships with EE 1 & 2) and inherits all of its limitations. While you can use custom fields (you match them to basic Metaweblog API-supported fields), you cannot use specialized fields like Relationships, Playa, Matrix, checkboxes etc. This limitation is in the Metaweblog API implementation; even MarsEdit doesn’t support this functionality.

The app itself mostly uses the standard interface of an iPhone app. It supports multiple sites and multiple channels; you just have to set each one individually through the interface. I tested EE Insider on the app and it just took a few minutes to set up (I already had the Metaweblog API module in EE configured for MarsEdit).

Features and Function

iExpression lets choose images from your Photo Library or take a new photo to include with a new entry. The image uploads when you post the new entry and uses the upload destination you specify in the Metaweblog API configuration. It worked flawlessly for me but the iExpression did include some junk markup with the post, wrapping my image in a div and a br tag with a clear in it.

Whenever you post new entries from your iPhone app, you can have iExpression automatically tweet an announcement on your Twitter feed. This functionality doesn’t yet use OAuth, so I’m suspecting it’ll break within the next month when Twitter switches off their basic API authentication. I haven’t tested this part but the app claims to also track “tweet-backs” and click-throughs.

Additionally, iExpression will let you create offline drafts (on an airplane, for example) and then post those entries when you have a data connection again.

Requirements and Cost

The app works with both EE 1 and 2 (because the Metaweblog API module is included in both) and will run on any current iOS device (3.1.3 or later). Their website includes a photo of the iPad version of the app but that is not yet released as it is waiting on approval from Apple. It will be a free upgrade for existing customers.

As noted above, the app is only available through the Apple App Store and currently costs $9.99.

Final Thoughts

If you run a blog without the need for a lot of custom fields and like to publish on the go, this seems like a nice choice.  EE Mobile Admin (a mobile web interface for your control panel) has better support for EE 1.6 fieldtypes (it doesn’t support EE 2) and, I think, a nicer interface. It may be because of the screen size but I found iExpression hard to use at times, especially when trying to switch between fields while posting an entry. I had one or two other UI niggles but nothing that made the app unusable.

I don’t think I would use the iPhone version of iExpression very much simply because it’s too uncomfortable to write on the phone in portrait mode (iExpression doesn’t currently support landscape mode). If I did need to post something in a pinch, the EE 1.6 control panel works fine on Mobile Safari.

However, I am looking forward to trying out iExpression on the iPad. I spend a lot of time on my iPad reading and writing and it would be nice to have a dedicated app for drafting posts and articles for this website.

Learn more about iExpression from the RWE website.


Posted on Jul 26, 2010 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Development Tools, EE Add-ons

RED When Excited Ltd10:58 on 07.26.2010

Hi there,

Firstly, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to investigate iExpression and write up your findings.

We did just want to respond to a couple of points, and we’d like to focus on the negatives because in the end, that’s what we can learn from to make the product even better in future versions. We believe strongly in iterative improvement of our Apps, and will certainly be looking at many of the points raised in our future iterations.

Your summary of the applicability of this first version is, we think, fair. Our aim for the first release was to create an iPhone App that one could use as they were out and about and wanted to dash out a short post/update. The introduction of the iPad version (shortly, come on Apple!) really opens up the App to writing longer articles. That said, we do eat our own dog food and we only blog and create news with the App. If it’s not good enough for us, why would we expect others to use it?

Your first observation around Metaweblog is accurate, it does have limitations. We chose it because it ships with every version of ExpressionEngine and (apart from a cryptic URL which thank-fully is just a copy & paste away) we wanted the set-up to be as light as possible. However, we are actively looking at broadening the functionality.

This really leads on to your comparison with Mobile Admin. Usability is subjective of course, but I think there is material price difference (~$50 per site for Mobile Admin, ~$10 for iExpression for as many sites as you want). However, we don’t intend to standard-still, so we’ll take up the challenge to enrich the functionality!

You are spot on about the Tweeting not using oAuth, but we’re delighted to say it is in the next version this is in (you can see the bread-crumbs from our own Tweets as we cheat and use unreleased versions

What I would like to do is invite your readers (and yourself obviously) to tell us what you’d most like to see. Membership management? Comments moderation? Forums? Which additional field-types are most important? How critical is 1.6 vs. 2.0 support? Should we spend more time on the post editor than any of the proceeding? We’d love to hear from add-on developers who want us to hook into their add-ons, but who should we be pestering? Please tweet your ideas & demands to:, or if you would prefer send an e-mail to (but please be aware we get literally 1000’s of e-mails to that address so our spam filter is VERY busy!). 

We hope that you’re readers will choose to invest and engage and help us build an ever improving App dedicated to ExpressionEngine.

Once again, thank you for the feedback and we expect 1.1 update with iPad support will hit the App Store at some point this week.

RED When Excited - We are, are you?