Today I'm excited to launch the public beta for Quill, a beautiful native Android app that brings all the major features of Ghost admin to your phone or tablet. Plus, it is built to work offline! If you blog frequently while on the move (or want to), this app is for you. Get it here on the Google Play Store.
In the spirit of openness fostered by the awesome Ghost community, the code is completely open-source on Github (contributions welcome!).
Ghost was launched with a viral Kickstarter campaign, back in 2013. The Ghost team were frustrated with the state of publishing on the web at the time, what with tools like Wordpress growing to encompass tens of different use-cases, so they pitched Ghost as "just a blogging platform". Since then, Ghost has grown tremendously and I am one happy user (this blog runs on Ghost).
Also, over the past 2 years, I've been progressively getting more and more involved in the Android community, recently enrolling in Udacity's Android Developer Nanodegree to try to level up my skills. But the one thing I hadn't done upto now was publish my own app on the Play Store—that changes today. I finally worked up the courage to put my work out there in the wild.
Markdown editing with preview
The editor UI in Quill is intentionally very similar to the one in Ghost admin: Markdown in one tab, HTML preview in the other, cover image and tags in the right-side drawer. I played around with a few different designs before settling on the current one. I think it's fairly intuitive to grasp (although one thing I'm not entirely happy about is the icon and location of the "insert an image" action).
Also the preview is powered by the exact same Markdown implementation used in Ghost admin, which means full support for all of Ghost's Markdown extensions: footnotes, code blocks, you name it.
From the moment I began building Quill, there was one feature I wanted it to have: a robust offline mode that lets users write posts even without an internet connection. Why? In my mind it came down to 3 factors:
- I figured users who would want to blog from their phones are likely professionals who travel a lot and blog frequently—they need reliable tools
- Ubiquitous internet connectivity is still a pipe dream, especially in India where I live
- As a developer, I knew this would be great fun :)
So offline editing was one of the early pieces I added to the app after weeks of planning (PS: state machines are a great tool for this kind of thing!). If you're looking for some more technical details, I've written a bit about my approach here.
There's just one caveat with this whole thing... Ghost's public API isn't stable and documented yet, so I basically have to hack around the problem by using the API used by the web client (which does change from time-to-time). All this means that I can't guarantee Quill will be stable as new versions of Ghost are released. I will of course try to keep up with new releases but there's only so much a single developer can do with a few hours a week.
Until the Ghost API reaches v1, I'll have to keep the "beta" tag on Quill.
If you're using Ghost and have an Android phone, take Quill for a spin and let me know about your experience. Look, I even made a nice little (textual) flowchart for you:
I want to...
- report a bug / request a feature / discuss an idea: open an issue on Github or email me directly
- contribute!: fork the repo on Github and check the open issues
- give general feedback / have a question: leave a comment below or email me
PS: this launch post was also published via Quill ;)