It’s been some time since I bought me the first generation 12.9” iPad Pro. I did so in a hope it will, at some point, completely replace my laptop. It’s time to put down the pros and cons as I came across them during the past month or so, and to spell out the verdict on whether or not the iPad truly can replace a laptop for someone who’s focus is on web development.

Beginner’s struggle

I must admit that the beginnings were not easy. Getting used to a completely different way of doing things was a tough one for me. I had to invest decent cash into iOS alternatives to apps I was used to dealing with on my Mac. And even now, after over a month, I am still in a process of searching for a good FTP manager that would allow me to load my NAS on the left and a remote server location on the right…

And then there’s the real awkward way of selecting text. If I got a buck for each time I wanted to throw the iPad through a closed window, I’d be a millionaire by now. But I got used to it. Somewhat.

So, can you do proper web development on the iPad? Yes.

Apart from a good FTP manager, I did find all the apps I needed to successfully create a website. Here’s a list of them:

  • Coda - code editor
  • Transmit - FTP manager
  • Cathode - SSH app
  • Adobe Comp - great tool for wire framing
  • Graphic - Illustrator-like editor
  • Pixelmator - as far as I know, this is the only editor that can handle transparent PNG images
  • Paper by 53 - for sketching ideas
  • File Explorer - to manage my files on Dropbox and home NAS
  • Web Tools - web browser with code inspector, JavaScript console, resizable web view to mimic ‘responsive’ feature on desktop computers
  • Pixabay - great place to get free photos and graphics for commercial use
  • OneNote - despite my general aversion to all things Microsoft, I really like this note taking app

I think the biggest challenge was to get used to a different way of handling files. Especially because of the limited iPad’s storage, I was hoping to find an FTP manager that would allow me to copy files from remote servers directly onto my home NAS drive. But as it stands now, I have to download the files to local storage first, and then upload them to my network drive. Had I known this before I purchased the iPad, I’d go for at least 64GB version.

Once you get around this problem, you’re on your way to success.

But working on the iPad isn’t about the apps only. It’s also the fact that any website you display on the screen, will behave differently from how it would look and feel on a desktop computer’s screen. That’s mainly because the iOS running on iPad is a mobile operating system so it is treated this way. And there’s no way around it as all the web browsers for iOS use Apple’s WebKit core, or its variation.

And no.

Despite the best efforts by Apple, the iOS11 still is a little clumsy to use to handle more windows at once. Sure, you get a split view for two apps, and you can have a third app ‘float’ over the other but it just covers the app underneath it so sooner or later, you just get rid of it.

Switching between apps using the cmd + tab keys is a hit’n’miss kinda thing. Multitouch does work quite nicely but is a bit strange if you work with external keyboard.

Also, working with most visual web builder plugins for WordPress is tricky as they’re rarely designed to be responsive, and their tiny controls are not suitable for touch handling.

Sometimes I do miss the option to work on my laptop, with an external screen hooked up to it in order to preview what I’m working on at a moment.

Do I stick with my iPad?


Despite the few annoying things I’m facing every now and then, I do find the iPad a great work tool.

I do like the fact that when I’m stuck on something and need to clear my head, I just detach the keyboard and go ahead and play some games, or pick up my Apple pencil to doodle around.