Review: Kodiak JavaScript

2013-07-11 00:00:00 +0100 by Alex R. Young

Kodiak JavaScript (iTunes: Kodiak JavaScript, Price: $4.99) is an iOS IDE created by @becomekodiak, a group of developers that apparently really like bears.

Kodiak's file browser and editor views, and the sidebar.

This app comes bundled with over 50 libraries and frameworks familiar to JavaScript developers, and most of the features you might expect: syntax highlighting with various themes, a tabbed editor, a file navigator, and a preview mode that uses the built-in WebKit browser. It also supports Retina displays and external keyboards.

The settings panel allows the theme, font, and font size to be changed. I found DejaVuSansMono looked best. A preview is displayed in the same view so you can easily see what each option does.

The IDE settings and the impress.js demo being previewed.

I tried it out with some of the bundled libraries -- impress.js for example worked fine, and I made a quick scratch project just to get a feel for the basics.

One of the best features in the app is the keyboard. Much like other text or terminal apps, it includes a bar with commonly used keys along the top. It has a button in the centre which can be used to move the cursor around easily, and the other keys have gesture-based punctuation shortcuts which are great for quickly inserting quotes and brackets.

Kodiak doesn't like loading large files which I suspect is a limitation of their editor design -- for your own files it should be fine, but if you try to open a 40 KB JavaScript library it'll make the device slow down quite a bit. Also, large files can't be edited, they open in a read-only mode instead.

I don't remember VimTouch having limitations like that, but it's a very different application. In fact, I think the strength of Kodiak JavaScript lies in its educational value -- if you're starting out learning JavaScript it could be a great companion application to a suitable Kindle/iBooks eBook.

I noticed that one of the Kodiak developers has a GitHub account with some polished-looking Objective-C projects: Adam Horacek. This includes the cool keyboard found in the Kodiak apps, which is KOKeyboard. Adam's work is definitely worth taking a look at if you do any iOS development.