My last post on iPad apps got a good reception so I will follow up with a review on some Android "tablet" text/code editors. These editors are designed for writing code with syntax highlighting and more advance features than a simple notepad editor.
Some of these apps have code preview, FTP, and even SFTP integration.
The apps I will mention in this post are:
Touchqode , DroidEdit Pro , AndEdit HD , WebMaster's HTML Editor, Android Web Editor PRO , SilverEdit , and kEdit.
Rather than bore you with in-depth review on each and every app, I will highlight what I think in terms of good features and shortcomings.
I chose these apps due to their popularity and the touted "tablet" compatibilities. You don't need to use a tablet specific apps. In fact, there are some good phone apps that work.
However, I am believer in optimized interfaces.If you use a tablet,the experience should be more compelling than a blown-up phone app. Unfortunately, a majority of these apps are just that - blown up phone apps.
Well, you can also use phone apps and they may work for you. Phone Apps include Jota Text Editor , TextWarrior , 920 Text Editor and I will briefly mention them as well.
First of all, before anyone attempts to do any text editing on Android, they need to use Hacker's Keyboard. If you have been using Android for any serious work, Hacker's keyboard needs no introduction but it is pretty much essential for control,tab, and escape which are not found in stock Android keyboards.
If I had to choose any apps out of this entire lot, it would be DroidEdit Pro or Touchqode. Both are highly rated and popular. Both have the important requirement of SFTP integration. That is a pre-requisite for me. There is no point in editing a server-side script locally off a SDcard or internal storage.
If I had to end this review, these are the two apps you only should look at.
I would give a slight preference over DroidEdit due to user interface. Touchqode feels too much like a blown up phone app in my opinion.
DroidEdit Pro Screenshots
Unfortunately, DroidEdit Pro suffers from many Android quirks in responsive layout. I had to switch orientations for many of the feature-sets because you would have over-lapping UI. I'll cover more of these "Android quirks" later.
Next, The only app that has a tablet feel is AndEdit. It supports a dual pane interface and you would easily mistaken it as a clone of an iPad app such as Texstastic. Unfortunately, that is all it has. It is rather buggy. Syntax highlighting is poor and there is no FTP/SFTP. Furthermore, it has no option of full screen text editing. The dual pane view is only good for selecting among files. It tries to be a clone of some iOS apps and ends up becoming an also-ran app.
Bugs like these are annoying. Frozen panes and the apps tell you there are no open files. This happens after you try re-opening after a crash.
WebMaster's HTML Editor,SilverEdit, kEdit, and Android Web Editor Pro were pretty much lackluster. They felt like text editors with minor features like line numbering and additional buttons for brackets and curly braces.
WebMaster's HTML Editor
kEdit. In addition to the lack of SFTP, the poor syntax highlighting made this program irrelevant for me.
SilverEdit made me scratch my heads a few times. The UI doesn't work too well on a tablet.
I didn't feel like Android Editor Pro added any value vis-a-vis the competition. And look at that UI!
In fact, I prefer the free phone apps such as Jota, TextWarrior, 920 Text Editor. Unfortunately, they also lack FTP/SFTP integration which rules out their utility.
Still, I would keep at least one text editor on hand. I figure I could use some other apps to get my files but that is rather clumsy and requires clicking in and out of apps.
920 Text Editor
In general, these apps suffer from Android quirks. Yes, I call them quirks. These apps are designed with "responsive layout." Meaning the UIs are designed for multiple resolution and are highly adaptive
( http://developer.android.com/training/multiscreen/adaptui.html ).
Developers need to take lesson from these guys on Design principles and guidelines for Android apps (http://mobile.smashingmagazine.com/2012/07/26/android-design-tips).
Then you have mismatch elements. Keyboards covering up menus. For example, trying to do a search-n-replace in DroidEdit is a frustrating exercise. I would end up switching orientation from landscape to portrait to reveal the "Find menu." In fact, in numerous instances, I had to switch orientation for various reasons. The ridiculously large virtual keyboards (I've tried many different keyboards) would take up a lot of wasted space that I would often end up going portrait.
To fix the problem above, you need to flip the tablet to portrait mode which is counter intuitive when you use a bluetooh keyboard in a case or dock.
I would also caution that you should always check to see if you are working locally or remotely. Some of these apps open up remotely and save remotely at the same time. If you lose a data connection or something happens, you can accidently delete a live file. Hence, I prefer some sort of cloning/downloading to a staging area. You can always "save-as" to a local folder but the UIs in many of these apps are not that informative or intuitive to tell you. Never hit the "save" button and always use the "save-as."
My conclusion. Android tablet apps have a long way to go. But if you had to choose, some of these may work for you.
WebMaster's HTML Editor
Android Web Editor PRO
Jota Text Editor
920 Text Editor