Plain text and code editors are certainly nothing new to the iPad – but the Kodiak PHP IDE brings to the table one incredibly powerful feature: the ability to actually run your PHP code offline, on your iPad. It’s also an incredibly slick code editor, as you’d expect. Let’s take a look at what makes Kodiak stand out.
Run PHP Code
Although there are certain limitations, the app is able to run your self contained PHP projects – and even access online APIs using JSON standard, XML and FTP. There are a number of examples to get you started and demonstrate the features, including how to pull the latest tweets on a particular keyword. It works brilliantly. The app also includes a number of PHP extensions, such as SQLite – so there’s a lot of powerful functionality and not just a simple PHP interpreter.
For those of you looking to learn PHP, this is an incredible tool – not only do you get some great examples to work from, but you can preview your changes immediately. For programming small widgets and such, it’s also remarkably capable. Code highlighting is of course, superb; however there is no code completion.
Quick Highlighting and Symbol Entry
Obviously, one of the biggest limitations to writing code on the iPad is having to switch to the symbol keyboard; Kodiak solves this using a quick entry keypad on top of the existing keyboard, which manages to fit all required symbols and a full set of numeric digits into just 9 additional keys. It’s ingenious, frankly. Each key contains up 5 symbols. A quick tap will insert the symbol indicated in the centre; a tap and a drag to any of the corners inserts any of the other four. It will take a little while to get used to, but once you’ve learnt the locations you might even prefer it to a regular keyboard.
The quick code-highlighting features is also one of my favourites – in the very centre of the quick symbol entry bar lies a small circle/dot. Tap and hold to move the cursor around your code, then double tap to initiate the highlight. This feature alone is great – I find myself wanting Apple to buy the Kodiak developers just so they can add this to iOS everywhere. In fact, the developers will be making the source for this and other neat objects (like the tab bar) open source and available on GitHub, which is rather kind of them.
File and folder management
Clicking the icons next to files and folders enables you to select multiple objects and perform basic file operations on them – move, copy etc. Individual files and folders can also be renamed of course.
When your project is complete, you can export your selection by sending a zipped up file to an email address of your choice.
Sadly, though sample images are provided for the demos, it’s not possible to add your own images through the typical iTunes file transfer – all files must be created through the app, which of course only creates PHP files. This is a limitation placed by Apple due to the nature of the app being able to run native PHP code.
The developers explained that getting files into the app is trivial with one line of PHP though, so there are certainly ways to work around these limitations. This should work:
Due to Apple security policies, code cannot be remotely accessed and run on the iPad; this means that you can’t log into your site’s FTP, edit a WordPress template and then preview the results. There is no remote FTP browser – though FTP extensions for PHP are available to use in your projects, as one of the demos shows.
The developers have informed that they plan to offer support for packages like WordPress in the next version, so that you will be able to run a local copy of WordPress on your iPad and edit / develop without web access. Presumably this will make use of SQLite to create a flat database file for WordPress, but that’s just speculation my part.
The addition of package support will take this app to another level, but right now it’s still an amazing app that stands unrivalled.
The app is on-sale for $4.99 for a limited time, before going up to full price of $9.99. If you have an iPad, and are even the slightest bit interested in either learning or developing your own web applications in PHP, this app couldn’t come more highly recommended.
Alternatives: TextTastic is a syntax highlighting code editor for iPad, though it’s unable to compile or run your code. It handles a variety of languages though, so if you’re just looking for a straight up editor, it’s worth considering.
Are you just getting into PHP? Can you see a use for Kodiak on your iPad, or does the thought of coding on a software keyboard just horrify you? Give it a go, and I think you’ll like it too.