AT Friday: Textastic

So far I’ve showed ya’ll some neat tricks for how to get more out of your iPads, from reading other people’s code, to getting notes automatically written down for you. I’ve showed you how to hook up an SSH GUI to your mac with MacFuse, and a great text editor for your Mac, Linux machine, or PC. What I haven’t showed you, that I have found very useful during my time at Tufts, is a code editor for the iPad. That’s right, you can actually write code fairly easily on your favorite little notebook.

The first question you have is probably “Why on earth…?!” Well, the answer hearkens back to my days as a wee freshman at Tufts. Having no laptop to speak of, and only my trusty iPad for computing on the long days out of my room, I needed a way to code on the go. If you find yourself with a) no laptop, or b) a really bad laptop, keep reading. So how does this work?

The app I use is called Textastic. I’ll tell you up front, it comes with an 8 dollar price tag, but to me, it’s been worth every penny. The biggest problem with most code editors on the iPad is that the keyboard is difficult to use, leaving you with two options: Bring a bluetooth keyboard (ugh), or painstakingly use the default iPad keyboard. Well, no more. Textastic’s keyboard is phenomenal, because it gives you direct access to all those symbols programmers use in everyday work.


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Caption: I have found this interface very easy to use. And this is the biggest advantage of the app – you can pull it out and start coding, without the hassle of a keyboard, or the frustration of multiple taps through the keyboard UI.

The app has other awesome features, like built in SFTP, WebDav, and DropBox file transfers. There’s syntax highlighting for tons of languages, including JS, CSS, PHP, and HTML. The app has a fullscreen code editor, and  a side filesystem navigator. Here’s my second favorite part: If you’re a web designer or developer, the app has in-house previewing of all pages.

            Check out the app page to view additional features, but the things I have listed are what made this application so invaluable to me. Now, admittedly, it’s very difficult to achieve the same level of productivity on this app as you would on your home setup, but I’ve found that it comes closer than any other app I’ve used.

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