Touchscreen and Codio

In my previous post I said that web development environment should be mobile. Why mobile is better than desktop setup with big screen displays and 200 $ keyboard? Well big screen is a nice thing, it helps in many things and you can use it(or them) to speed-up your programming process. I have a two monitors at my desktop and I love the resolution that I'm able to use. Forever users aren't using your web site with two 4K monitors. They don't have 100 mb. internet connections or 16 gigs of RAM.

Mobile devices generated 20% of the world's browsing activity last month, the first time that the surging category reached the 1-in-5 milestone, according to a Web analytics company.
- ComputerWorld

Website users are more and more moving towards tablets and smartphones, we all know that. So I think that we all should be making software in a playground where our users are (at least retail customers), of course you can develop a website in a desktop environment and test it with tablet, but that's like using a power drill, when everyone else are using hand drills. To be a innovative about usability and to detect real usability issues, I think you should spend as much time as possible in a environment which is close as possible to customers environment.

Perfect mobile development environment

I think that, perfect mobile development environment will consist of these things:
1) Fast and touch-friendly IDE which is powered by cloud services
2) Hardware which is as near as possible to customers hardware, but also good enough for smooth development process.
3) Realistic Internet connection (depending on your market area), but still keeping productivity in mind.

My mobile development setup

To get an idea about current state of mobile development environments, I bought a Windows 8 tablet and a keyboard. My choice was a Windows 8 tablet because I want to use Visual Studio sometimes.

Tablet is Dell Venue 8 Pro and keyboard is some cheap Belkin's IPad keyboard. Dell Venue 8 is a 8 inch table which is powered by 1.3GHz Intel Atom processor. It has 2 gigs or RAM so It's actually not that far from high-end smartphone. 

If you are interesting to read a better review of this tablet, please post a comment and I will what I can do.

Codio and tablet

My first IDE to try is Codio. I have used it in a few web projects now and I'm just loving it.

This is what I see after login in. It's a quite normal looking dashboard. Links at dashboard are working well and you can easily change tabs and open projects. 

After opening a project I'm taken into regular IDE view with a few tabs open. There's a normal explorer scrollbar at the bottom and text is quite readable. I'm able to click (or touch) text area and write some code. Performance is decent and I'm not receiving significant lag at typing.

When code completion appears problems start to a rise. Autocomplete box is not in normal place, tooltip is far from normal place and clicking proposed words is hard.

If I click left-side menu, I'm able to see first level menu, but clicking "Deploy..." will only close a menu. I'm still able to rename and delete files which is nice.

Same problems are present at top menu. Clicking "Deployment" will only close a menu and I'm only able to use first level menu items. I would say that top menu is useless.

After using Codio awhile I noticed following problems:
1) Not all items are responding to touch properly. Sometimes I have to click items multiple times before action is taken
2) Scrolling in bigger files is hard. Sometimes IDE thinks that I'm marking text and sometimes it's scrolling nicely. Bigger the file, more problem it will have.
3) Anything that requires hovering is of course impossible (like using top menus)

Final thoughts

Mobile development environments are coming and It's a good thing. Hardware is cheap to buy and they have a decent performance nowadays. Forever development softwares are not ready for this world. I will post a second blog post about using Visual Studio with tablet, but I don't have high hopes for it. Hopefully things are getting better.

In the meanwhile check out this site for an interesting project: TouchDevelop


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