Tablets

Get a handy (code-friendly) text editor for your Android tablet

Find out why Jack Wallen thinks that DroidEdit is a great tool for any developer or admin who needs to troubleshoot code on the go.

Having a syntax-ready, text editor on your Android tablet can really be a major help for a lot of admins and developers. But the standard text editors simply don't offer enough features for people who work with HTML, CSS, PHP, and other languages. Fortunately, if you have an Android tablet, there's an easy-to-use tool that's ready and able to tackle your editing tasks.

DroidEdit is powerful enough to help you work with your code in a manner similar to what you're used to on your desktop. The free app includes the following features:

  • Syntax highlighting (C, C++, C#, Java, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, SQL, and more)
  • Themes
  • Infinite undo and redo
  • Search and replace
  • Auto and block indentation
  • Work with multiple files and changes between sessions
  • Open files directly from local storage
  • Character encoding support
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Share documents with other services
  • Preview HTML files in browser
  • Bracket matching
  • Run scripts in SL4A directly

There's also a premium version called DroidEdit Pro for $1.99 (USD). Here are some additional features that you'll get with this paid app:

  • SFTP/FTP support
  • Custom themes
  • Open files directly from Dropbox
  • Run external commands through SSH
  • Root mode

There are a few quirks with DroidEdit, but overall, you'd be hard-pressed to locate a more feature-rich text editor for the price. Let's install and use this tool, which any developer/admin on the go would be remiss to try.

Installation

The installation of DroidEdit is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "droidedit" (no quotes)
  3. Tap the entry for the free version
  4. Tap Install
  5. Tap Accept & download
  6. Allow the installation to complete

To install the Pro version, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "droidedit" (no quotes)
  3. Tap the entry for the Pro version
  4. Tap the price button ($1.99)
  5. In the new screen, tap Accept & buy
  6. Allow the installation to complete

Usage

With DroidEdit installed, you're ready to begin. With this tool, you can write code from scratch or edit pre-existing files. Using the free edition, you can only open files from the local storage. Using DroidEdit Pro, you can open files directly from Dropbox. Let's open a file from local storage.

When I first installed DroidEdit on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab and attempted to open a CSS file I had saved on the local device, I encountered my first interface quirk. There was no button associated with the action to open files! It turns out that the default setup of the Action Bar doesn't play nicely on some devices. If you discover that DroidEdit doesn't have the ability to open files, there are two ways to resolve this issue. The first way is to disable the condensed Action Bar. Here's how:

  1. Tap the menu button (top right corner)
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Tap Appearance
  4. Disable the Condensed Action Bar by sliding the on/off switch to the left (Figure A)
  5. Re-open DroidEdit (it should automatically close)
Figure A

You can also manage the color scheme from this window by tapping Manage Custom Themes.

If you'd rather drop the buttons to the bottom of the screen (and have all the buttons quickly available), you should disable the menu bar and use the Action Bar instead. To do this, follow these step:

  1. Tap the menu button (top right corner)
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Tap Appearance
  4. Disable the menu bar by sliding the on/off switch for Action Bar to the left
You should now be able to open files easily. If you go back to the main window (Figure B), you'll see a row of buttons at the top. The fourth button from the right (arrow pointing UP) is the open file button. Tap that button to reveal the open file dialog. Figure B

In the upper left corner, you'll see files opened in tabs.
From the open file overlay (Figure C), you'll notice multiple options (depending on what cloud service is installed). As previously mentioned, the only option available to the free version is local storage. Tap that entry and then navigate to the file to be edited. Figure C

Dropbox and Box options are available for the Pro version.
Once the file is open (Figure D), you should immediately notice DroidEdit has applied syntax highlighting, based on the type of file opened. Figure D

A CSS file opened in DroidEdit.

If you now tap the menu button, you'll see a number of entries that allow you to:

  • Find/Replace
  • Go to Line
  • File Actions (share file, force syntax, run external command, run in SL4A Background, run in SL4A Terminal) NOTE: If the file is HTML, you'll also have the the option of previewing it in a browser
  • Edit
  • Search in files
  • Read only
  • Writer Mode
  • Ask for Encoding

Keyboard shortcuts

If you have a physical keyboard attached to your device, you can easily use the included keyboard shortcuts. For soft keyboards, you need to set the Volume Up button to serve as the Ctrl key. Here's how:

  1. Tap the menu button
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Tap Keyboard Shortcuts
  4. Tap Volume Up as Ctrl to enable
  5. Tap Soft Keyboard Support to enable

Your Volume Up button will now server as the Ctrl key.

The short list of keyboard shortcuts can be found in Menu | Settings | Keyboard Shortcuts (Figure E). Figure E

You can change a shortcut by tapping on it and editing the key combination.

DroidEdit is a great tool for any developer or admin who needs to troubleshoot code on the go. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a tool you will be developing complete sites on or writing application code with, but you might be able to with the help of an attached Bluetooth keyboard. Bottom line: for small bits and pieces, this text editor is fantastic. If you have experience with DroidEdit, please let us know your thoughts about this app in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

2 comments
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d7x048a n876w0

This is exactly what I'm looking for... Unfortunately, when I installed it, the first XML file I tried to open gave me an error message :( back to the default android text editors...

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