By Jason Snell
February 12, 2019 9:34 PM PT
Finding my way around iOS roadblocks
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
The point wasn’t that these tasks were impossible on the iPad, but that they were inconvenient enough—requiring me to research a bunch of apps or figure out workarounds or write scripts—that I was better off just going back to my Mac and doing the work there, primarily in BBEdit and Numbers.
I complained about not being able to do grep searches in my iOS text editors of choice, and while that’s true, several people pointed out that there are iOS apps that are capable of them, most notably Coda by Panic and Textastic Code Editor 7.1 I own both of these apps and while I don’t like writing articles using them—they’re development tools more than writing tools—they absolutely support grep and I will use them in the future when I need to do pattern-matching searches on iOS.
The biggest impediment to finishing my work on the iPad, though, came from the fact that I needed to generate a bunch of charts in Numbers—and they use a non-default font, Proxima Nova, that wasn’t installed on my iPad. How do you install extra fonts on the iPad?
It turns out, there’s a way—just a spectacularly inelegant one. Several apps will do it, taking font files transferred from the Mac and wrapping them in custom configuration files, then emailing them to yourself, at which point you can install them via the Settings app. I tried the free iFont2 and it worked perfectly. Installing via the same kind of custom configuration file you’d use to install VPN software or to opt in to one of Apple’s beta-testing programs is not intuitive in any way, but with the help of iFont, I was able to get my charts to display on my iPad identically to how they display on my Mac.
This is perhaps my final lesson from this process3: That I can work around most, if not all, of the roadblocks that iOS places in front of me. It might take an app I’ve never heard about, a feature of an app I rarely use, or hours of hacking together scripts based on code samples found in Google searches, but I can probably make it work. That’s not necessarily an endorsement—in the end it was far easy for me to go back to the Mac, where I’ve assembled all the tools I need to do my job over more than two decades. It’s a reminder that as appealing as working on my iPad is, there are still rough areas that I’m much more comfortable handling on my Mac.
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