This Xcode for iPad App May Make You Appreciate the Mac

For some reason, a segment of the iOS developer community would love to have Xcode (the IDE for macOS, iOS, and other Apple platforms) on the iPad. One enterprising soul created a proof of concept for it, and – it’s something.

Software developer Louis D’hauwe tasked himself with creating Xcode for iPad as a side project. It’s got some legs, too. The app supports side-by-side and windowed views for iPad, and has a familiar file tree structure in a sidebar. The app launch screen is a list of projects you’re working on.

But that might be where the magic ends. As D’hauwe notes, code created in this Xcode for iPad concept is compiled on a Mac, “which acts as a remote server.” He says it “generates an .ipa that is uploaded by the Mac,” which is then installed on an iPad.

In a subsequent tweet, D’hauwe says the iPad Xcode app will let developers write code on a mobile device and compile directly to a Mac server. In his view, there’s suddenly no need for a Mac.

But the project is also patched together. It uses D’hauwe’s Savanna mobile IDE (built for the Cub programming language) and regexs for syntax highlighting. It also requires raw XML editing; there’s no storyboard support.

There’s a lot to unpack with this. It’s a very intriguing tool. It’s also not one that most developers would want as an end-to-end app creation tool. Storyboards work just fine in this Xcode for iPad project, but there’s no visual editor. That’s great for making minor adjustments, but creating in a proper design environment is much faster (and probably yields better results).

But as a means to pick at an Xcode project on the fly, this might be just what we need. If you’re the type to bring an iPad on vacation instead of a Mac, Xcode for iPad means those moments of inspiration could yield instant results instead of notes.

Even so, for many professionals, there’s just no replacing the Mac. It’s far more powerful, has a proper keyboard, and there’s access to other professional apps (such as Sketch).