I’ve started doing a lot more work on the go lately, away from my regular desk, and while it does present some challenges to consider, I’ve been having a lot of success with it.
Admittedly the biggest challenge is actual UI design work, because anything that requires I have an image editor where I can push individual pixels around is pretty much out, but if I’m going to be doing that, I want to be at my own desk anyway, where at least I can have the comforts of my own coffee and a decent graphics tablet.
I have switched over to an out and about model for my coding though. And it feels good.
So new set up for mobile working is as follows.
This is the corner-stone of my mobile working environment. It’s lightweight, easy to carry, syncs to Dropbox through my phone (so external storage isn’t an issue) and it’s my working platform.
Admittedly, I did have to make it a bit user-friendly for working on the go. The biggest problem I faced with the iPad was the amount of space the keyboard would take up on the screen. However I didn’t want to get a net book or a Laptop, as I like having my single touch device. And when I’m not working on it, I don’t want a keyboard in the way of playing games or films, and I like being able to put it in portrait and read books.
So I had to make some adjustments and got myself one of these.
Small, neat, easy to use, and packs away into a small size. If i need to do anything more than type a couple of paragraphs, I now can do it in some comfort. Handy for when I want to get a lot done, but if I’m simply replying to a quick email, or Facebook post, or even GitHub issue, it stays in the bag!.
Used for fast note taking with Penultimate and drawing in paper. I think every one should have one.
So that’s the technical kit out-of-the-way. Though I will briefly note that I also roll with a Samsung Galaxy S2, which I use as a mobile data hotspot for the iPad so it can have a net connection on the go.
Now this is where it all comes into its own, through a combination of software I have an amazing mobile work station.
There are 5 main apps I use day in and day out to get work done, but together they all work together seamlessly.
First up: Prompt
This is an SSH utility that is the workhorse of everything I do. By having a VPS that I can SSH into, I can do all my application development and logic server-side. Want to do something with Node? SSH to the server. Want to test some new Python modules? SSH to the server. Want to start a new Django app? SSH to the server.
This bad boy lets me get all of that done. And with SSH access, I can also use it to grab Git repo’s or make updates to git repo’s so I can write, save and commit new code, all through this bad boy.
Next: Managing my Git Repo’s with iHub
From iHub, I can manage my Git Repo’s create new ones, track and respond to issues, as well as merge pull requests in group projects. This is a side tool more than anything else, just a handy way of managing my version control.
Client Mockups and Wireframing? I’ve got Proto
If I need to mock anything up, or play with layout ideas, I can’t go wrong with Adobe’s Proto. Released alongside their newest editions into the CS family it’s already become an invaluable tool for quick layout ideas, and linked pages to show a websites funnel process and basic layout ideas. I will happily admit, that when I am at my desk I will do all this exclusively in Balsamiq Mockups, but on the go, Proto is my tool of choice.
As I already noted, with this little bad boy, I can also create linked pages so when you “click” on a link it shows you the next page in the chain. Very useful for giving a client a feel for how the website will behave, and respond.
Mobile HTML Warrior! Koder
Dropbox integration, FTP/SFTP capabilities, inbuilt snippets and Syntax highlighting? Yes please. Koder is a development app that lets me do code monkey work with relative ease on the go. Plus with all the integration features it has for various services, it means you can make changes to web code and redeploy easily enough.
More useful for making minor web layout changes or crafting HTML than anything else, but still incredibly useful. For application leg work, it’s back to Prompt, and Vi on the server.
Last but certainly not least, my favorite text editor: Elements
I love writing in Markdown. I love it. it’s elegantly simple and it converts into clean semantic HTML with ease. Simply beautiful. And to match the elegance of Markdown, I have Elements. I can do all my writing and copy in Elements and have it export me all the HTML around it. No more having to fuss about typing tags and then copy, it all goes in as Markdown, comes out as semantic HTML.
Plus it Elements has the added advantage of being able to be used for any writing work you want to do. It’s just about my default text editor now. Though I do occasionally rely on Pages if I need to do anything fancy.
It also has a fantastic feature called the scratch pad, where you can jot little notes and ideas, and you can leave it hovering as you continue to type, making it useful as a reference tool while you are writing. Over all the app is simply beautiful and easy to use.
- Spotify for my Music.
- Evernote for saving everything ever
- Control Panel for remote management of servers running cPanel
- Penultimate for being the best note taking application ever
- Paper for being wonderful to doodle in
Over all I am insanely happy with my mobile working capabilities. I get to get out, and do more things instead of being attached to a desk, and as a bonus I can always kick back and watch a film if I find myself stuck while out. I love mobile working. I love that I can get out and work in the park with ease. It makes me a happier man. And now I can work while travelling in an easier fashion too.