For the past two weeks or so, I’ve been working almost entirely on my iPad. Creating websites, writing emails, editing photos, the whole shebang. My iPad has been my primary machine for a significant amount of time now.
Many people have been asking how I’ve been able to do it. Honestly, there’s not all that much to it, but I’ll try to go into some detail here regarding two web projects I’ve been able to work on almost entirely on my iPad.
One project-in-progress I’ve been working primarily with my iPad on is a new website for Smith Goodfellow. The way I’ve worked on this project has been similar to the way I’ve dealt with other freelance work in the past - a back-and-forth between me and the client, iterating changes on a live site with which we can both interact with on a variety of devices. No mockups, no screenshots, no Photoshop. That already cuts out the requirement for a computer in the design stages. Going straight from wireframe sketches to content and markup is something I’d recommend to anyone.
For WordPress themes - which is what the Smith Goodfellow website will be based on - I tend to create a flat HTML file, design in the browser around the HTML file, then use it as a reference for creating the PHP files required for the WordPress theme. This is all easily done on the iPad. I use Diet Coda for writing HTML, CSS, PHP, and all things web (except blog posts and other writing, for which I use the magnificent iA writer) on my iPad. The only time I find myself needing to jump on a desktop computer is when I need to use Photoshop for asset creation - something which is becoming more rare with the growing support of CSS3 features such as gradients. Diet Coda can also help out with any server administration I need to perform, with a full on terminal built right in. When it comes to setting up WordPress, MediaTemple offers installation assistants for WordPress and other web applications. If I wanted to perform manual installation, I could easily copy the zip file from WordPress.org to my server and extract it, all in the terminal. Installing the skeleton theme _s goes through the same process. _s (or “Underscores”) is my preferred skeleton theme for WordPress, since it allows you to get right to businesses, with barely any undesirable markup being generated by default. If you have the time though, creating a theme from scratch (or your own, custom skeleton theme) is almost always more desirable.
One final advantage to working this way on the iPad is that responsive design is built right into my workflow - two awkward breakpoints at which the design is likely to fall apart are available right away.
For the entire duration of the second project, I worked solely on my iPad. Me and a team of other designers & developers worked on Citee. It was my task to come up with branding and a styleguide for the webapp, which was all done in one HTML file, written on my iPad. Michael set up a server which I could connect to in order to use version control on my iPad via Diet Coda’s terminal. That was all there was to it. Having already spent a few weeks getting used to the iPad workflow working on the Smith Goodfellow website, working on Citee this way was a breeze. Of course, it goes without saying that I use a wireless keyboard with my iPad to make this all possible.
There are, of course, some problems working solely on the iPad. Not many, though. The biggest one being no local environment. But if you’re comfortable working on a remote server as your development environment, that’s not too much of a problem. The other problem is the lack of desktop applications such as Photoshop, but like I mentioned earlier, it’s not too much hassle to jump on a desktop computer every once in a while for asset creation, and with growing support for CSS3 features, the lack of Photoshop is becoming less of a problem.
There’s really nothing more I can say about the iPad workflow. It might be for you, it might not. It certainly works for me. The iPad has been an excellent portable computer for me, and it’ll only get better with more content creation applications becoming available every day.