Since I am involved in quite a lot Open Source communities I already had much contact to Etherpads (and flavors like Titanpad or Etherpad Lite).

What is Etherpad?

For those who don’t know them: They’re online editors with basic Rich Text features like marking text as bold or italic. Their main use case (to my knowledge) is either to collaboratively draft articles or write meeting notes together. Thereby the Rich Text functionality isn’t used at all, but the authors already use the markup of their target CMS like MediaWiki.

Why not using Google Docs?

Google Docs is way more popular. However, I consider their “features” more harming then serving. Like I said, Etherpad is mainly used for preparation of publishing on another system. Google Docs is “helping” you by formatting text as you write. For example, by replacing double quotes with typographically correct quotation marks. Keeping in mind that certain special characters often have special meaning on other systems, the publisher has to go over the text again to undo parts where Google Docs was so kind to help you.

Why do I need an app for that?

You don’t.

But you would need to remember (or bookmark) all the places were you are using an Etherpad, plus the login credentials (if you don’t save them or use a password manager). With Padland you have all the pads in one place. I haven’t checked, how it stores credentials, though.

Okay, so how do I use Padland?

First, install Padland from F-Droid and launch it. Then click the cog in the upper right corner to launch the settings view. Select “server list” there and add a server (the plus in a circle in the lower right corner). Pick whatever you want as name. As server URL take the name of the Etherpad instance (i.e. everything up to the /). Make sure to deselect the checkbox if you don’t use Etherpad Lite. In “Advanced options” there is a hint how to detect, whether Etherpad Lite is used. Save the form when you are done and move back to the start screen.

Now create a new pad by hitting the document icon with a plus. Here’s a tricky detail: The pad name is case sensitive and must start with a slash, since it is just concatenated with the server pad you can select from the options below the button. A trailing slash gets removed before saving a new server. If you enter a pad name, Padland will look the URL up and prompt you to a login window (same as in web browser) if it is a private pad. Once you enter your credentials you can interact with the web the same way as you would in the browser.

And that’s the only drawback I experienced so far: Etherpad on the browser is not mobile friendly, so Padland can’t help much here.

Other than that I am satisfied to have a single app to manage all my pads.