Edit Code on Your Android Device

Every once in a while I find myself needing to review or edit code on my mobile. It never fails, I’ll be out with my family and the solution to some problem I have been struggling with will pop into my head seemingly from nowhere. The other common scenario I experience is somebody emailing me a script to review, or fix when I’m not near a computer.

I’ve tried various solutions over the years. Until recently my go to option was to RDP into my desktop and launch Visual Studio. VS more or less works fine via RDP, but even the screen on my Galaxy Note feels too small to be fully effective. I have to zoom in and out on sections of code constantly and the syntax can be hard to follow.

I set out to find a code editor that would run on Android. If you’re considering the same there are a few things you should know. Android editors are not full integrated development environments, they lack a console for testing and debugging code. They also lack compiling facilities. They are editors in the strictest sense. There are a few apps in the Google Play store that claim to have a console and or compiling, but the ones I tried could only “debug” or “compile” HTML.

Mobile code editors do have a couple of major advantages over straight up text editors. The most important one is syntax support. The feature allows you to select your language and then the app will monitor for the correct use and highlight mistakes. File association and Search/Replace are also very handy.

File association makes opening your scripts and apps simple.

I tested several of the code editing apps in the Play store and only really liked one of them. Rhythm Software’s Code Editor is ad supported (free), but a $2.99 in-app-purchase removes them. It supports more than a hundred languages including PowerShell. I assumed that the auto-complete would be fairly limited, but it is very useful.

The auto-complete library is immense.

Code Editor has built-in support for cloud services like OneDrive, Dropbox, and GitHub. Sign in with your credentials and the service will appear in the open and save dialogs. It will also be added as a shortcut in the main menu.

Flexible storage support is nice.

Tab support let’s you easily work on multiple files. The highlighting and theme options let you customize your experience to the Nth degree.

For my needs the app is just about perfect. It isn’t going to be replacing Visual Studio, but when I have needed to edit a few lines while on the move it has been a lifesaver.

About Kevin Trent

IT professional with almost 30 years of experience in Infrastructure, Architecting, Administration, Development, and Communications.

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