Sponsor: Textastic (and why this app is indicative of disruptive change)

I’ve always thought of the iPad as a low end computer. There was a time when the PC was considered to be a low end computer. Based on the prevailing definition of computing when it was new, the PC was also belittled as not a real computer.

However, the microcomputer quickly took over some small jobs from its big brothers the Mainframe and Mini-computer. One of the first jobs it took was that of data entry or text editing. Then followed “spreadsheets” and then came “word processing” and eventually presentations. Curiously, there were no such concepts as spreadsheets or word processing or doing presentations in mainframes. In reality, the new computer did not need to find a raison d’être by displacing accounting and engineering functions–things which sold big iron.

With the puny new personal computer came completely new definitions of what computers should be used for.

With the new touch-based devices of today, we are seeing similar migrations of utilization to new jobs to be done. The simpler creative tasks migrate first and the advanced (or emergent) uses follow. Like with the microcomputer, the first common creative task for tablets happens to be text-based editing.

For proof we have this week’s sponsor. Textastic is an app which brings a perfectly adequate text, code, and markup editor to the iPad. As one would expect, it supports syntax highlighting (in more than 80 languages) and is extensible with TextMate-compatible syntax definitions and themes. It has all the features one would expect from a good editor.

But like the PC’s new graphics enabled new interaction models, the touch interface allows for innovation in character selection: A cursor navigation wheel simplifies text selection and the extra row of keys above the keyboard makes it easy to type common programming characters.

It has all the support a mobile coder/writer may want: HTML and Markdown preview,  sync with (S)FTP and WebDAV servers as well as Dropbox. It even includes a built-in WebDAV server that allows you to quickly transfer files to your iPad wirelessly from your Mac or PC.

It’s time to shed the physical and mental burdens of the PC era. Create anywhere, anytime with Textastic for iPad. Just $9.99 at the App Store.

  • qka

    In the late 80s, where I was working then used WordPerfect on dumb terminals attached to large minicomputers – VAX and Harris.

    • Horace Dediu

      WordPerfect is indeed an example of mini-computer “word processing” but the product took off on the DOS platform. It may be more appropriate to refer to WYSIWYG word processing as a PC-only innovation.

      • Dave Wright

        I still remember the first time I composed a document in Ami Pro (I forget the version number, but it was around 1991/92). It was quite clear that WordPerfect’s days were numbered. WYSIWYG FTW!

  • Chris Harris (@_ChrisHarris)

    Textastic is a great App, I’ve been using it for many weeks now to code some HTML5 animations for an iPad App we’re making. With the split keyboard iOS5 I found It was actually possible to code using the App while standing up! (I was on the tube, on the way to work) It might sound a bit crazy but part of the job you hire a mobile device for is being able to do things on the move, even of that’s coding HTML. Well done guys, now all I need is a place in the App for documentation look up like CSS syntax. Hint hint 😉

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t all ads be like this?
    Great choice of sponsors!

  • Dave

    True comments but a pitty the wysiwyg is not included in Textatic. If it is i have missed it! But the preview does take aways this contra for some part.

  • jepla1

    I think coding on the iPad make sense in some cases and will become more and more interesting for developers. But Textasic currently did not have ipad pro support. So i switched to GoCoEdit. A really great Editor, too.