6 of the Best Free Web Development Apps for Android

Contributing Editor

Yes, you read that title correctly. Web development. On Android. I won’t suggest a smartphone is a good substitute for desktop coding, but it is possible to write and test code on the move. I’m composing this article in HTML on a tablet while sitting on a train on my way to the SitePoint meet-up in London.

In addition, a half-decent device could prevent you having to lug a heavy 17″ laptop to client presentations. As a bonus, battery life is often longer and smaller screens mean there are fewer distractions from email pings, Twitter updates and Facebook messages (I’ve been unusually productive on this journey!) Here are my favorite Android apps for web development. They all free and don’t bombard you with nagging ads…

1. Solid Explorer

Android has an accessible and recognizable file system but the stock file manager is limited. Solid Explorer is in beta, but it’s stunning.

Solid Explorer

The app offers:

  • a 2-pane window for easier file moving
  • multiple view settings, searching, sorting and bookmarking
  • local and remote file access including root, networks, FTP, SFTP, and Dropbox (I prefer it to Dropbox’s own app)
  • a basic but very quick text editor

Even if you’re not a web developer, Solid Explorer is a great app for anyone who needs to navigate the file system.

2. 920 Text Editor

There are a number of code editors on the Android platform but I’ve not found any which beat 920 Text Editor.

920 Text Editor

It provides:

  • multiple file tabs
  • support for web syntaxes including HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP
  • configurable color coding
  • session handling

It’s not as quick as Solid Explorer’s basic editor, but is much closer to your desktop IDE.

3. VT View Source

Android browsers are fairly minimal and do not provide developer tools. VT View Source is a novel app which is compatible with all browsers and permits you to view the underlying HTML. Once it’s installed, you simply need to ‘share’ the page URL — VT opens then downloads and displays the source. There are several dozen color themes although I’m yet to find one which looks good!…

VT View Source

4. kWS — Android Web Server

kWS is a fast and lightweight HTTP web server. It’s hardly Apache and only supports server-side includes, but can be useful for testing and demonstrating HTML, CSS and JavaScript applications.

kWS

There are a number of rudimentary Android solutions for running PHP and other server-side languages, but I struggled to find one which worked reliably. I’m sure someone, somewhere will create one soon.

5. MySQL Connect

We’ve all had those emergency moments when we need to connect to a remote MySQL database and don’t have a PC handy. OK, perhaps that’s stretching credibility a little, but MySQL Connect is a fine app which beats many desktop clients. It’s only a few hundred kB and you’ll never be caught short again.

MySQL Connect

6. Hacker’s Keyboard

There’s nothing terribly wrong with the standard Android keyboard or third-party alternatives. They’re just not designed for coding. Hacker’s keyboard provides a full 5-row desktop-like experience with multiple layouts and language options.

MySQL Connect

Bonus Apps! Android Browsers

The stock Android browser is great but, as a web developer, you need as many applications you can get your hands on. Go wild and install this lot…

Opera Mini has much the same engine as you’ll find on older mobiles and iOS.

Anyway, I’ve probably missed your favorite Android web development app. Let us know what you use…

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  • http://informationthreshold.blogspot.com Steve

    I installed the Hacker’s Keyboard once I heard about it, as I was tired of trying to find where a particular key was hidden. It works great on my tablet, but I don’t get the same full layout keyboard on my smartphone.

    • http://aurielle.cz Aurielle

      Just switch to landscape mode – then you’ll get the layout shown in the pic.

  • http://www.alterweb.net mezzanine

    How about Skype for Android?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      It’s great – but how do you use it for web development?

  • Andreas

    Thanks Craig,

    Just ordered a Nexus 7 can’t wait to try these out, you’ve saved me some searching.

  • http://peter.neish.net Peter

    Also ConnectBot is an SSH client to connect into a server. Have used it to edit pages and even reboot servers.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.connectbot&hl=en

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Thanks for the tip, Peter.

  • http://Johns-Jokes.com John_Betong

    Surprised there was no mention of Evernote.

    Nexus 7 is fantastic:)

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Evernote is great, although I consider it a productivity tool rather than a web development app.

  • Muhammad Saleh

    Typo: In the list of the android browsers it’s Dolphin not Dophin :)

  • Andreas

    Any idea why 920 text editor needs permission to read my gmail? I’m new to Android, is this dodgy?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Does it mention that on the installer? I suspect it’s a generic warning which could be applied to almost any app.

      • Andreas

        Yeah it lists “Read Gmail ” as one of it’s permissions on install.

        I don’t know what it uses it for it may be innocuous but I looked for an alternative anyway, I found DroidEdit pretty good, it has tab and auto indent which is nice, I paid the $1.99 to get SFTP support. Check. It out.

  • Robert

    Any ideas on an app that will allow me to edit and send my html emails from my Android? Even Mail Chimp won’t let me do that – at least not from my mobile!

    I can edit the html email ok on my phone but sending it out as an email is a problem.

    The easiest way would be to open the html email in a web browser, select all and copy and then use paste into gmail compose. Gmail allows me to send to unrestricted number of members without the restrictions of other email programs. Good for larger mailing lists. But no mobile web browser that I can find currently has that ‘select all and copy’ function.

    Any suggestions really appreciated.

  • Rachid
  • Andrey Kidinov

    Android Web Developer is most usefull thing for web developers. Imho.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.kidinov.awd