by Zachery Jensen
A Short Glance at My iPad Pro Usage2015-11-25 00:00:00 +0000
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Swift Hacks #12015-03-09 00:00:00 +0000
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iPad Pro is a Go

The time has finally come. The iPad Pro is shipping to homes all over the world, including my own. I am typing up this post on my new device right now. By tossing together the combination of Working Copy and Editorial (which is not quite optimized for iPad Pro yet,) I am able to blog from my iPad, apparently. To be honest, what sounds like some kind of power user wizardry is not really all that different from how I approach this site on my iMac.

If I was trying to make a new post to this site on my iMac, I would use git to pull down the latest files from my GitHub repository for the site, add a post file (the site is built with Jekyll and hosted by GitHub for free,) generally by copying an existing one since I can never remember how to format the front matter, and then edit it. I am rather poor at remembering the details behind formatting in Markdown since I rarely actually use it. However, I usually use a plain text editor on the iMac anyway. My choice there is typically Xcode, actually. It’s surprisingly swift (ha) with individual files and offers enough highlight support for my uses, usually.

Once I had the file edited, I would add it with git, commit, and push up the changes so I could see them live on the site. Maybe I would notice an error or two and make a few corrections. Whatever it takes to produce content that nobody ever sees, right? And that’s about it. Nothing especially magical.

So back to iPad Pro. I already had Working Copy. I just cloned out my repo from GitHub, which it makes very convenient by logging into GitHub and offering to push up the local ssh public key, and all that. Once the files are loaded, I told it to add a new file, named it appropriately, copied some front matter from another file, then hit the “share” icon to edit the new file in Editorial. That failed the first time and Working Copy notified me that I should install the Working Copy workflow into Editorial. Fine. I did, it was simple, and I began editing the file successfully this time.

And here I am. Editing the file. Since you are seeing it on the site, everything must have worked out fine. I managed to save the edited file back to Working Copy, commit and push the file and voila.

So What Else is New With iPad Pro?

Well, they keyboard exists as an official concept now. I have used bluetooth keyboards with iPad in the past without many issues. It’s different now that Apple has blessed this peripheral with their own official version. Developers can really take it seriously. What should a keyboard do? Well, at least what Apple’s keyboard can do. It’s really nice that it isn’t using Bluetooth. I don’t dislike Bluetooth like some, but, when it comes to keyboards with iPad it can be annoying. The primary offense is grabbing the iPad off the keyboard and heading down to the couch only to find it’s still paired with the keyboard. Annoying! That never happens with the Apple keyboard. It can’t. It’s not a wireless connection.

The Apple Pencil is pretty cool. I’m no artist, but, I do enjoy sketching from time to time. More importantly, I occasionally find myself wishing to draw out diagrams or idea sketches with my own hands. No other stylus on any iPad I ever used felt right for this. One problem I often had was ending a stroke then beginning a new stroke connected to the previous one. Think of drawing a rectangle then another right next to it, aligned with it. That is not a challenge with the Apple Pencil. That thing is amazing. Best in class, for sure.

What Next?

Over the course of the next month, I intend to make every effort to maximize the amount of real work I can do with the iPad. Of course, it’s a leisure device as well. I know how to use iPad for leisure. It will take some acclimation to the size and weight, but, I have already been enjoying some quality game time using my Steelseries Stratus MFi game controller. It’s a great combination.

My main focus will be on finding the very best remote desktop solution to allow me full access to the working environment I maintain at home on my iMac. So far, I have not had quite as much luck as I hoped. I do expect to see updates to several different remote desktop software packages. I have a few options to try already. I can make do with what I’ve already found, but, I can imagine such improvements to the interactions and display that I can’t just sit around and accept what I’ve got so far. So that will be a focus.

I’ll also be reigning in the various tools and apps best suited to the “soft” work that I do in my profession. Things like researching tools and libraries, consuming educational content, making plans and designs, documenting work, and all of that. I don’t like to work on a notebook computer as a primary workstation, but, I do like to have the option to get away from the desk at times. I especially like to get away from the desk to do the soft work I mentioned. If I can get a slick workflow for even half of those things on iPad Pro, I will consider it a smashing success at replacing the notebook computer in my life.

So that is about it so far. Maybe I’ll post some more detailed stories about my time with the device after I’ve had it in hand more than a few hours. Until then!