Software Development on your iPad?

So I was at the Skydome ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Roger’s Center with my good friend John Bender today when the subject of laptop woes came up. As I mentioned to him over an $11 beer in the hot sun while the Blue Jay’s played on, I was torn between spending around $500 on a Lenovo Ultrabook (the U260 is on for $470 this week at TigerDirect) or about double that on a MacBook Air. One of my goals was a really small device – something that I could use while out on the road.

John is the biggest fanboy I know when it comes to Apple, and he usually simply demands that I buy a MacBook of some sort when we have these discussions, but I had brought my iPad along and so he mentioned, “Why not just get a keyboard for your iPad and use Diet Coda?”

Well, he had me on that one. Why didn’t I think of that?

  • Panic’s Prompt app has become my goto ssh & terminal – so I know they make good software.
  • The iPad has almost as much screen real estate as a MacBook Air 11″
  • Mostly what I wanted to do was edit files on a remote Linux server

in short, it was a perfect idea.

$79 later at Future Shop, and I’m writing this review on the WordPress app. Here’s my impression so far:

  • The keyboard is a really great piece of hardware. It paired with my iPad almost immediately, no fuss no muss.
  • Prompt, my SSH & terminal app, works very well with the keyboard. I was flying around in vim. However, I had a weird experience where when I moved the cursor down past an open curly brace and past a line of code, any code inside of the curly brace would disappear. This problem doesn’t happen in Diet Coda, so I’m happy.
  • You can use the iPad comfortably in either portrait or landscape using the smart cover. I prefer landscape at the moment when I have the table space, as it feels more natural to reach over the keyboard and touch the screen this way. I’m always afraid I’ll knock it over in portrait mode.
  • The Diet Coda editor is a fantastic piece of software, further reinforcing that iOS has my vote in large part due to the app quality.
  • Diet Coda likes to work in a sort of “edit, save, reload” workflow. This is fine for web apps and console apps, though I could imagine more complicated things might be rough.
  • The app has a preview button that loads the current file in an “in app” browser, which is cool. There’s also an “in app” console (neat!) for more command line apps and moving around.
  • Diet Coda is not inherently GitHub compliant, though its easy enough to use the built in prompt to use the GitHub cli.

I’m seriously impressed so far. My main worry at the moment is what the battery performance is going to be like on the keyboard with it bouncing around in a messenger bag as I walk.

**** EDIT: My friend John Bender is of Edmonton Alberta fame, not the JQuery Mobile guy. Apparently there was some confusion!

2 thoughts on “Software Development on your iPad?

    • The Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Excellent so far. On the box it says it requires OSX, but iPad found it just fine.

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