Textastic the text source code editor with FTP for iPad

At present there aren’t a whole load of source code editors on the iPad but one that is worth considering is Textastic. It’s part source code editor part FTP client (also supporting WebDAV sFTP, iDisk and of course Dropbox access). So it’s a good fit for people who like to edit websites on the move, it even has code hinting for object orientated languages like C++ but for most people it’s going to be CSS, Php and JavaScript and SQL which is going to make it a worthwhile download.

Load the app up and you get a fairly plain to column layout the left hand column offers a file list whilst the bigger right hand side is your editing area conveniently including line numbering. It’s not cluttered with code short cuts or options just a straight forward set of top and bottom toolbar options. The first being access to a help section including an online manual and email support, this is over and above what you get with most apps and the developer Alexander Blach should be given credit for this.

To start with at the bottom of the main screen in the left hand corner is a world icon which will take you straight to the transfer window which reminded me of Transmit for the Mac with its two column layout. Start on right by putting in your connection info and your ready to download files. This proved fairly straight forward to setup an FTP connection for the first time and download the WordPress twenty eleven theme just to see how well it downloaded multiple files. The downloading of files proved a lot faster than on my mac book pro, pretty much an instantaneous process, just select the file or folder with the checkbox hit download and your off.

Once the files are downloaded you can then start to edit one. So going back to the main window and clicking on any file starts to show the power of the app. In the top right of the main window there are four options find and replace, symbols, file properties and a set of upload and export options. Find and replace offers a list of three choices, whole word case sensitive and diacritic sensitive (which to be honest means nothing to me). Symbol should really be called tags or selectors. Say your looking a CSS file, you can scroll down a list to find your ids classes etc, the same is true in all of the languages supported and it makes code navigation very easy.

The only downside I have found was file previewing, it’ll preview HTML, Php but it’s all local. You maybe thinking well that’s what you’d expect, but if I make a change I’d like to be able to preview the live change so any dynamic files could be called up and the net result becomes visible. So that said you need to consider a workflow along the lines of lots of creating and editing then uploading to preview and it doesn’t suit my quick change see if it’s gone screwy style.

Moving back over to the main settings for the file and you will be surprised at the level of. On troll you have. There are the things you expect like font choice size word wrapping etc but then there is the huge amount of theme styles which I believe have been ported from Textmate on the Mac. From dark Unix styles to an Amiga Magic Workbench style, that said the online help section explains how to create theme bundles for full confirmation. The most useful tool would be if you added the TextExpander app to your iPad. This gives you the ability to create short codes for regular tasks and to speed up your workflow.

So Textastic is one of the most fully thought out text editors on the market. If you need something to help you get to grips with your code then you could do far worse than downloading this app.

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