iPad to replace my laptop

### New iPad

I recently got an iPad and as most will tell you its an amazing tool with the right apps installed. As I’m writing this I’m sitting in the Kruger National Park overlooking the Olifants river while my wife and baby are asleep inside. Its mid morning and a squirrel is finishing the porridge I fed Benji a few minutes ago. I didn’t charge my iPad (on which I’m writing this article) and its still on 53% battery!

As I packed for the holiday I decided that the laptop should stay at home and only the lightweight iPad should come along. Off course I can’t do everything without a laptop, but I was surprised how much I can do with the iPad and a good set of apps.

### SimpleMind+ Touch – Mind manager iPad app

Since good ideas often don’t keep office hours I installed [SimpleMind+ Touch][1] ([iTunes link][1i]). This is a mind manager with support for both the iPhone and iPad and at the time of writing this they offered an upgrade from the free edition for only $2.99

[1]: http://www.simpleapps.eu/simplemind/
[1i]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=305727658&mt=8

I like to take an idea or a requirements specification and lay it out into a mind map first. This often helps me to get a bigger picture and organize things together that belong together, it helps me to get a very early picture of the interface design.

### iMockups, Textastic and TextExpander – Mock-ups and User stories

After putting everything into a mind map I typically start with the user stories and mock-ups. On my laptop I would open [Notepad++][2] and [Balsamiq][3] and as I start writing stories from my mind map I would layout the elements I mention in a mock-up. On the iPad I opted for [iMockups][4] ([iTunes link][4i]) and [Textastic][5] ([iTunes link][5i]). At the time of writing this Textastic was priced at $9.99 and iMockups at $6.99

[2]: http://notepad-plus-plus.org/
[3]: http://www.balsamiq.com/
[4]: http://www.endloop.ca/imockups/ 
[4i]: http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=zQ8TqjqJtDM&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fitunes.apple.com%252Fus%252Fapp%252Fimockups-for-ipad%252Fid364885913%253Fmt%253D8%2526uo%253D4%2526partnerId%253D30
[5]: http://www.textasticapp.com/
[5i]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id383577124?mt=8

iMockups is a very simple mock-up tool with a library of templates for web, iPad and iPhone, if you subscribe to their newsletter they’ll also email you a project with some extra templates for android etc. What I like about the app is the rudimentary effect, similar to balsamiq, this really helps to convey that the mock-up is not a final design and helps the client not to focus on too fine a detail at this early stage.

Textastic is really an amazing app. It allows editing of text files in a really great interface, it can connect to Dropbox, (S)FTP, WebDav and MobileMe iDisk to download and upload your files. Its got an extended keyboard toolbar that gives easy access to punctuation, which is handy for source code editing and markdown files (which is supported, yay!) It even has a floating cursor key tool that allows to navigate and edit selections easily. I also love the [TextExpander][6] ([iTunes link][6i]) support. TextExpander allows one to create text snippets that automatically expand when you type the shortcut in supported apps. TextExpander is priced at $4.99 at the time of writing this article.

[6]: http://www.smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/touch/
[6i]: http://smilesoftware.com/cgi-bin/redirect.pl?product=tetouch&cmd=itunes

So I created some TextExpander snippets for features and scenarios (Gherkin syntax) for user stories. And using Textastic, now I can create a project folder in Dropbox, and start creating user stories while quick-swapping to iMockups to update the mock-ups.

But can I write code?

### Textastic – Code editor with syntax highlighting & File manager

Another feature of Textastic is syntax highlighting for quite a number of languages including HTML, javascript and c#. To me this is brilliant, all I need now is a connection to source control (I use subversion hosted on [assembla.com][7]) so I can check out, edit and check in code. I could not find an app to do that, but opted to checkout my project from assembla into one of my Dropbox folders. This allows me to work on the iPad, sync to Dropbox and when I’m back on my heavy duty desktop machine, I can debug and check-in.

[7]: http://assembla.com

### Teamviewer – Super charged remote access

The last obstacle would be to debug, check-in and publish code while on the road, and the best solution for that I found in [Teamviewer][8] ([iTunes link][8i]). If using it non-commercially its a free product that gets installed on the computer you want to remote control and can be setup for unattended access. The iPad or iPhone app allows you to log in remotely and gain fast access to the screen keyboard and mouse to do remote work.

[8]: http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx
[8i]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teamviewer/id379424610

As a developer, to be able to do so much with a piece of technology that hardly weighs anything and can keep on processing for hours and hours without a recharge, is simply astounding.

I got to get back to my holiday now and get started on the family’s brunch!

Posted in Blog, Stuff