iPad Review: Source Code Editors
In playing with my iPad, I determined that editing code in vi via SSH just wasn't going to be possible (the on screen keyboard just doesn't work well for vi keyboard commands). That meant I had to look at AppStore alternatives. I came across two that advertised what I wanted to do; for i ($9.99) and Monkey Wrench ($6.99). Given that I'm used to Komodo IDE, which has a price tag of $245 I wasn't expecting much.
I decided to play with for i first and was impressed with a number of things. One of which was the addition of an extra row to the keyboard with most of the commonly used programming characters. This meant I wouldn't have to switch to numeric and then to symbols. It also included a tab key which was useful, since I work primarily with Python. I wrote out a few lines of code and was happy with the speed. I couldn't type as quickly as I can on a keyboard, but I was quicker than some people I've seen attempt to write Python. Syntax highlighting, a built in web server (for file sharing), and some settings were all nice to have, along with the exceptional language support.
After I wrote out my quick demo script, I switched over to Monkey Wrench to do a comparison. The first thing I noticed was that it didn't look quite as nice. I'm not sure what it was, but it looked outdated. What I did like about Monkey Wrench was the line numbering, however it was mostly a viewer and it felt like code editing was added as an after thought. I also didn't like that Monkey Wrench was written primarily for use with FTP and then local files were thrown in afterward. There was no need to select a language as I had in for i, I simply typed... syntax formatting need not apply right now (but it is listed as a planned future improvement). The keyboard, while it added extra characters, didn't had enough of them and coding was almost a pain (keys like = / ( and ) were missing ).
for i Pros
- Syntax Highlighting for numerous languages
- Attractive Interface
- Enhanced Keyboard
- Wifi File Sharing
for i Cons
- Lack of Line Numbering
- No SFTP support
- Copy/Paste support was extremely poor and inaccurate
Monkey Wrench Pros
- Line Numbering
Monkey Wrench Cons
- UI felt more like a viewer than an editor
- Lacking certain enhanced keyboard functionality
- No Syntax Highlighting
- Had to enter typing mode
- Wedged in a viewer and an editor instead of sharing the space for a single window.
In the end, I'll use for i for now but I'll keep both up-to-date and see what happens with them in the future. Either way, it's nice to see this type of app available... now if only Python was in the AppStore.