Java - - By Craig Buckler

6 of the Best Free Web Development Apps for Android

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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