iPad for Developers

 » 15 Mar 2010

Firstly I should say that I am a fan of the direction that Apple is taking in their pursuit of a new simple computer experience. I’m with Gruber in seeing the iPad as the redefinition of computing for the masses, if not necessarily a primary machine for the ultra-geek or tinkerer. Anything that can reduce the level of ‘family IT support’ calls is a good thing. Plus nice futuristic gadget.

However there are a couple of disappointments (for me) that I think/hope will get fixed in future updates.

  1. a web cam (which I suspect will come in a later version with some very simple background task management to run iChat)
  2. I want to sync the damn thing with ‘the cloud’, not another computer. I presume Apple’s purchase of Lala will be helping with the iTunes side of this.

The reason I want these things? Because I think that even for me (a web designer/developer) this machine could be my primary computer. Most of the criticism I have heard so far about the iPad is based around people like me saying ‘it’s great for consumption but what about creating stuff?’ - I believe I have an answer of sorts.

Many web development services are moving to a remotely hosted model, why couldn’t we use the iPad to build things given the right applications? I’m thinking of services like Github & Heroku in particular in the Rails world.

Couldn’t an iPad app exist featuring an interface to github a text editor like Textmate a running local development server, automated testing and a push to Heroku production? Wouldn’t that be enough for smaller apps or even bigger apps that choose (in a Rails-esque way) to use the default way of doing things?

In a non-Rails world you’d only need an FTP client, a text editor and a simple PHP server.

Even if it were not your main development environment, I’m thinking screen size would be an issue (!), you would at least be able to do some development on the road.

I guess what I’m talking about is a sort of Coda or Espresso for iPad. A elegant one app solution to website building.

There are obvious issues; I’m not sure of Apple’s view of running a Apache-ish server on an iPad for local development, creation of imagery is still a tricky problem and you’d be talking about simplifying a pretty complex process. But it is feasible.

Is anyone doing this sort of thing? I’d pay for it.

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