December 20, 2011

Mobile Development: Writing Code on an iPad, for an iPad


It's possible to use a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad to make typing easier, but I found the ability to pick up the iPad and do even 30 seconds of coding between other tasks to be seductive in its simplicity. Adding a keyboard makes the iPad into more of a Netbook form-factor, which would have been less novel.

There was also nostalgia for me in writing basic, but fun games for a simple environment. This recalled many, many hours of fun coding on my first computer, a TRS-80 Model I. Having limited capability for visuals forces the attention onto gameplay and the fun factor.

Tank BattleFor such a simple application, I didn't expect to have such a jarring experience coding without integrated access to source control. The feeling of making changes with no versioning safeguard felt like tightrope walking without a net. Fortunately I was able to check into Perforce from a Safari web browser on the iPad by using P4Web running in standard mode.

Mobile in the Enterprise

Of course, hobby coding for fun is a far cry from software engineering in a complex, modern environment found in enterprise shops. However, in those complex environments there is much more work related to the writing of code, such as code review, automated build results, source control management, Agile process management, QA, documentation, etc. We think many of these related processes might more easily lend themselves to a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet than straight-up code wrangling.

Perforce's vision of Version everything encompasses a need to version everywhere, prompted by the capabilities of using today's mobile devices. I'll be continuing to push the envelope in new directions, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and dreams on the subject.