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Is It Possible to Write and Run PHP Code on an iPad?

I love the iPad. It’s a fantastic form factor for media consumption and gaming; and it also works well as an e-reader. The trouble is I don’t use it nearly as much as I could. Most of the time I’m consuming media (Netflix, Twitch, YouTube), I’m coding in parallel.

I can do that on my MacBook, but I’ve never been able to do that until now. Two things have made it possible:

  1. iOS recently added support for picture in picture playback. That means I can keep a video app playing, while working on something else.

  2. Fantastic apps (like DraftCode and Working Copy) make it possible to code and run PHP apps, and push changes to Github, directly from the iPad.

Picture in picture

Today I’m going to show you how I code on an iPad. I won’t pretend it’s a perfect workflow (what workflow is?), but this is as exciting for me as the first time I used a laptop instead of a desktop.

I started writing this post a while ago. To tell you the truth, I don’t think the apps I’ve going to talk about were ready then. They’ve both received updates since. It’s as though the developers could hear inside my brain, and wanted to make me happy. I also apologize for the size of this page; there are many animated gifs..

Hardware

One of the most important parts of this whole experiment, is finding the right keyboard. When it comes to mobile devices, there’s no shortage of poor-quality hardware.

I searched for quite some time before I settled on a keyboard I liked the look of. I can safely say I made the right choice.

This keyboard is about twice the length of the iPad Mini 2, and weighs about the same. The keys feel amazing, with plenty of space between them. And it’s quiet!

This keyboard also has a trackpad. iOS doesn’t support mouse or trackpad (as far as I’m aware), so you don’t have to go with a keyboard that has a trackpad. I like this because it can double as an input device for my Raspberry Pi (using a single USB port for keyboard and trackpad).

Unless you’re using a Bluetooth keyboard, you’re going to need a USB port. Fortunately, Apple produce an adapter (originally made for digital camera compatibility), that works wonderfully with every USB keyboard I’ve ever tried.

The Windows key doubles as a command key, and Windows + z / Windows + x / Windows + c / Windows + v all work as you’re used to. You can also use Windows + → and Windows + ← to move to the beginning and end of lines.

The All-in-one Media keyboard is listed as USD 39.95 on the Microsoft website, but you can pick it up for USD 29.99 on Amazon. The Lightning USB adapter is listed as USD 29.99 on the Apple website, and actually costs a couple dollars more from Amazon.

Apps

I’ve already mentioned a couple of apps (DraftCode and Working Copy), and the truth is these are the only two you need.

What tools do you use to code? You probably use an IDE (or at the very least a text editor, like Atom). You probably use something like Git, to organize and version your source code.

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