Programming on Your Phone

Pythonista lets you use your pocket UNIX workstation as a workstation. I use Pythonista, if not every day, very heavily on the days I use it. As always it's crippling of Apple that there's no upgrade pricing, so I can't give him more money every year that I keep using it. The new keyboard module is an interesting script launcher, but I already wrap a bunch of utilities in a main menu program.

There should really be more of these mobile programming environments. In the early days, Apple severely restricted you from shipping one; you could kind of cheat with JavaScript, and a few games snuck in some bytecode interpreters, but scripting was right out. They loosened up eventually, but are still dicks about you saving code anywhere it could be shared, so for example I have to keep my Pythonista stuff in iCloud, not DropBox where it'd make more sense.

  • Panic's Coda and Coda for iOS (née "Code Editor" WTF) is the only other one that's really functional; I've built real web sites out of it, but I mostly use it for ssh. Sweet baby Cthulhu, I hate Panic's crooked-text "designer" sites, I hit Reader view on those instantly. Designers shouldn't be allowed access to CSS or JS.
  • Hotpaw BASIC still works (as does his Chipmunk BASIC on the Mac), but hasn't been updated in 2 years. Not that I want to program in BASIC, but it's better than no programming at all.
  • The iPad used to have a very nice "BASIC!" (with a structured BASIC and a bunch of system functionality), and a very limited "iSkeme" (scheme interpreter, R5RS-ish? with nothing but text I/O), but they were killed in the 64-bit-pocalypse.
  • Workflow (née Apple Shortcuts) is great for putting a few tasks in a row but you'd go insane trying to write anything complex from drag-and-drop clicky boxes.
  • Apple's Swift Playgrounds on iPad is a tutorial, not really usable for applications AIUI.
  • There's a bunch of "kids learn to code!" apps that are mostly ripoffs charging $60/year to play robot tanks. Do not buy anything like this.

I dunno if the 'droids have anything comparable, I'm sure they can root their phone and try to use vi in a busybox shell, but that's not a reasonable work environment for a thumb-sized on-screen keyboard.