Tech Tuesday: Coding on the Go

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For months I’ve tried to write-up my experience trying to turn my Note 10.1 tablet into a coding machine. I’ve had this post sitting in my draft folder since February every so often I pull it out and try to finish writing it. every time so far I have saved incomplete. Of course my circumstances have changed a bit since I started writing this, but I still think there is useful information for others in this post. So this last weekend I finally sat down and finished it. So I’ll be writing up a post to discuss what’s changed and why I’m less interested in finding development solutions for Android.

One of the reasons for replacing my Nexus 7 with the larger Note 10.1 was that I wanted to use my tablet for more than entertainment. From blogging to note tacking it has severed me well over the last 6 months, What I have yet to find a way to do productively and consistently is write code. To be fair up until the beginning of the year I haven’t made that a priority, I was content with using CodeAnywhere to make minor tweaks to projects, that was until it failed me completely when I was trying to write a procedure to review my picture of the day posts from 2014, ever since then I’ve tried to find alternatives. I’ve even been in contact with CodeAnywhere support, who’ve been reasonably responsive when dealing with a non paying customer, but ultimately it’s not reliable enough to be my primary mobile solution or even move up from the free service.  So where does that leave me?

I have installed over 10 different apps on my tablet looking for the right tool. They range in price from free to $12. That doesn’t count the Git and SSH clients or the local web servers I have tried for testing my php apps. What it comes down to is that though I love my tablet for a lot of things, when it codes to programming it is not a good choice. Still I can’t run out and buy a new devices for programming so I will have to make it work with this the tablet.

While the biggest issue with working on the go on my Android Tablet seems to be having a workflow that works with the limitations of the tablet. Unfortunately that is still alluding me. I can get stuff done but it’s still a challenge every time I sit down. I’ve been working on putting together a better workflow for all my development, both personal and work, but my real work always seems to get in the way. So while I know I need to find a workflow that works for development on my tablet, I have to start with my windows workflow because that’s where I do most of my developing.

With that said It’s still worth looking at some of the tools I found for coding on my table:.

DroidEdit (website:Link  – Google Play: Free / Pro): 

The first editor I found in the Play store, with both an ad-supported free and paid with additional features version. The interface is clean and usable and the build in Git integration makes it very useful. Where it failed me was when I moved to setting up a local web server on my tablet for testing of php code. It’s internal Git repositories are inaccessible from other applications.

Overall with its clean interface and the ability to open files from a multitude of sources it is a very useful editor and one that I think will always stay on my tablet and maybe even my phone.

Android Web Developer (Website: Link – Google Play: Free (in-app purchase for full version)
This seems like the most promising of the apps. With a great feature set on the paid version and a very usable interface. The only problem is it’s $8 price tag, I was never able to pull the trigger on the pro version. Which is a shame. I want to support the developer and the product, but I always seem to have other priorities. The  biggest issue I had testing it was being interrupted by full screen adds randomly. It really messes with my focus and didn’t make me want to buy the full version, just move on to the next editor.

CodeAnywhere App and Website(Website: Link – Google Play: Free)

While I have repeatedly been hijacked in my attempts to use Code Anywhere’s android app, from it failing to browse file trees, to damaging my files when I edit them from the tablet, I keep coming back to it for a couple of reasons. The first is it’s the first Web Based editor I used,  the second is that when it does work it has a great feature set and allows me to edit a range of files from multiple servers easily from any browser. So while I have trouble recommending the Android app the Website works great, even from the browser on my tablet.

Finally I will give an honorable mention to AIDE and AIDEWEB, a very nice looking editor with an impressive range of tutorials to help you learn to program. And while I like its interface, the lake of support of PHP was a deal breaker for me. Though I have considered getting it for Jacob or Violet to learn to program, but then I ask myself do I really want them to be programming on a tablet


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