Since the release of first 12.9″ iPad Pro in 2015, I’ve done all of my web development work on an iPad Pro.
Ed. Note: As of March 2019, I’m currently using a 64GB Space Gray Wifi-only 12.9″ iPad Pro in a charcoal gray Smart Folio, connected via Bluetooth to a Magic Keyboard. Previously, I was using a 64 GB Space Gray Wifi/Cellular 10.5″ iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard attached.
Not only is this site coded entirely with an iPad, I also use it at work to build the ON1 site.
As you’re reading this, keep in mind that this is what works for me. Your mileage may vary depending on your setup.
Basic environment info
Before I get into the apps I’m using, I should probably provide a little bit of background information on how our environment is set up.
To be clear, I’m usually not developing locally on the iPad Pro (unless I’m building a static site)–instead, I connect to a remote development server and do the development work there.
All of the source for the site lives in a git repository on BitBucket, which makes it easy to keep track of changes and allow multiple people to work on things in their own branches without affecting the live site.
The big advantage to this setup is that I can work from anywhere I have an internet connection on any device–my iPad… a computer… even my iPhone in a pinch.
For example, when my wife and I were in the middle of driving across the country while moving from Portland to Eastern PA last June, I got a text from work somewhere in the middle of Iowa that we were having some site issues. Since my iPad Pro has LTE, I was able to pull over at a rest stop, connect to my dev environment, fix the problem, and deploy the fix without ever leaving the car.
I’ve also deployed urgent changes to the site from my iPhone while sitting in a bar, and did one this past winter standing outside at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. While not exactly ideal, it sure is convenient in urgent situations.
While I use a couple of apps regularly depending on what I’m trying to accomplish, there is one that I use every day–nearly all day, and that’s Panic’s Coda.
It does pretty much everything I need as a developer. The editor is great, it has an amazing built-in terminal app based on Prompt (more on that in a bit), and has file transfer capability.
Everything I build, I build with this app. I spend nearly as much time in the terminal as I do in the editor since all of my interactions with git are on the command line. This app worth every single penny it costs.
Another app by Panic, Prompt is a full-featured terminal client for iOS. I don’t use it as much as Coda since it’s built-in there, but if I only need to connect to a server via SSH without all of the other stuff Coda offers, this is what I use.
Pixelmator & Affinity Photo
If I need to do any photo editing or resizing or other manipulation, it happens in one of these apps. Unfortunately, both apps leave something to be desired when it comes to slicing up PSDs, so I almost always end up using Photoshop on my Mac for that.
Ergo Web Tools
If you spend a lot of time debugging in the Safari or Chrome browser consoles on a Mac, you’ll find this app handy. It can be opened from the share menu while viewing a page in Safari, or you can enter the URL in the app.
Alternatively, if you prefer not to leave Safari, you can use a bookmarklet for Firebug Lite by following these instructions. While Firebug and Firebug Lite have been discontinued, the bookmarklet still works (and works quite well).
Doing all of my coding on my iPad doesn’t mean that I no longer use a Mac. I do, particularly for cutting up PSDs from our designers and for testing and debugging the site across various browsers.
With the environment and apps described above, I use my iPad for web development work every day (it was also used to write this post). While it may not be for everyone, it definitely works for me and my workflow.