This post is an appendix to my launch of the Codewerks Kickstarter campaign, which launched today! If you’re interested in coding on an iPad, please take a look. I’ve been thinking a lot about the kinds of applications that you see on different operating systems. One of the factors that makes Linux so appealing and elegant is the way that its applications are tiny, discrete, and interoperable. On the command line, composing a bunch of small apps to produce a powerful result is the core of what makes Linux great.
In the year 2000, the first full year of my working career, I found myself trying to choose between two employment options: a contract editor position for a website, and a full-time role with an investment firm in Toronto. The contract looked pretty exciting to me, but I was months away from getting married, I was moving to Toronto for the first time and needed stable cash flow. The investment firm made the explicit pitch for stability amongst their other benefits.
While development on Codewerks has been ongoing, I’d been working every day for a company that communicated remotely using Slack. And if there’s one thing that you need to have for important business communication, it’s GIFs. Lots and lots of GIFs. Slack has various bots that allow you to inject GIFs into the conversation, but they’re pretty weak, emphasizing speed over choice. It seemed to me the best alternative was to use a Mac app, but I couldn’t find one!
Ever since the iPad was introduced, I’ve wanted it to become a way to write and work with code. I waited a long time before giving up and building my own solution to the problem. Coding on the iPad is really hard. Apple doesn’t allow apps to execute arbitrary code (with limited exceptions nowadays). So die-hard iPad coders have resorted to some pretty gnarly workarounds. The most powerful workaround involves getting your own remote server, and using a terminal app to shell in.
As 2018 opens before us, it’s worth noting the parlous state of the Mac desktop. Yes, we’ve just been introduced to the iMac Pro, but elsewhere things are grim. The Mac Pro is a lame duck computer, un-updated for years while Apple has at least promised its replacement, albeit with no timeline. The Mac mini is a farce. Last updated in October of 2014, even that update was a disappointment at the time.