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Markup - iPad HTML Editor

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Markup iPad HTML Editor

Markup iPad HTML Editor

Screen shot by J Kyrnin

The Bottom Line

Markup is an iPad app for Web developers to manage simple changes to basic websites, but it has a long way to go before it will be a Web editor that is useful. Using Markup, you can edit existing text files (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, whatever), but in my trial of three different FTP servers, I was only able to connect to one. And the lack of ability to create new files decreases the utility into an application that can fix typos you find while browsing on your iPad, but not much beyond that. Until some of the problems I detail below are fixed or addresed, I can't recommend this app to anyone.

Pros and Cons of Markup

Pros

  • You can edit any text file you have stored on your Web server
  • Saves state to exit app and return to the same file

Cons

  • Can't create a new file - only edit existing files
  • I couldn't get it to connect to my FTP server - and the error message wasn't helpful
  • No real security features like sFTP or passwords
  • The iPad virtual keyboard requires a lot of clicks to get to < and > characters
  • Crashes a lot

Description

  • Connect to FTP servers to edit existing HTML, JavaScript, CSS, or other text files.
  • Browse sites with large thumbnails.
  • View images and documents that are hosted on your Web server.
  • Preview your changes before you upload them.
  • Saves your state so that you can exit the app to get information and come back to the same file.

Guide Review - Markup - iPad HTML Editor

When I first opened this app, I had high hopes. The interface is pretty, and if you have plain HTML sites that are accessible without a server password, your thumbnails will look as sharp as the screen shots for the app show. But site thumbnails are not a useful feature when editing Web pages. Being able to edit them is.

My first thought was that I would set up a new site on my domain. I've got a website that doesn't have an index page, so I thought I would use Markup to build that index page. But right away I had problems. You can't create new files in Markup - just edit existing ones.

So then I thought I would make some changes to another site on that same FTP server. I carefully added all the information (identical to the previous FTP server, except the domain for the Web pages) and instead of getting an error I get "FTP Connection Error - there was an error in the FTP Connection. Check the host, username, password and root path." Since I copy/pasted the information from the other account (and a terminal program for the root path) I'm not sure what is wrong. Clicking Okay on that error message simply takes me back to the thumbnails screen.

I Wouldn't Use Markup for Secure Websites

Markup also crashed almost every time I used it. It crashed when adding a site, when downloading a thumbnail, when connecting, and after editing. After a while I got nervous every time I touched anything on the screen while the app was running, wondering if it were going to crash again.

The security features are very lax in this app. The app saves all your FTP passwords right in the app and there's no way for you to specify that you want to enter the password every time. Plus, secure FTP (sFTP) is not supported. If I had this app hooked up to some of the secure websites I used to work on I'd be constantly worried about my iPad being stolen. The only solution I could find was to input the password and then take it out after every session.

Markup Needs Better Support for Web Languages

Once you get connected, the app does nothing to make writing your HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or PHP any easier. The first problem is the built-in virtual keyboard. When I was testing with this, I finally just saved <> into my clipboard and pasted that in whenever I needed a new tag. While this isn't the fault of the app, it would be nice if the developer created a custom keyboard or popup toolbar or something to include these characters.

There is also no syntax highlighting. This is something I've come to expect in a high-quality HTML editor, and seeing my HTML in plain black characters on a white background looked almost wrong. Plus, there aren't any other features to make writing HTML (or CSS or JavaScript or PHP) any easier - like tag completion and validation. I could live without color coding if I knew that when I wrote a <a> tag the corresponding </a> tag would show up automatically. It is pretty embarrassing to whip out my iPad to fix a typo on a site only to cause the entire bottom half of the page become a link because I forgot to close the tag. Plus, without highlighting, a tag reference, or tag completion, Markup is almost impossible for a new Web designer to use. If you don't know HTML you are out of luck with this app.

Other Nice Features I'd Like to See in Markup

Markup makes it easy to upload your file when you're done editing. You just click on the up arrow in the upper right portion of the screen. But then nothing happens. If you are editing small files it's probably because they upload so quickly that you don't even realize it has happened. But some type of confirmation or progress meter would be helpful, to keep from clicking the upload icon over and over.

Markup is also missing a search function, as well as search and replace. So if you're getting it to edit a large file you're going to have to scroll through it to find the problem. Since the application only lets you edit existing files this could get pretty annoying if you're trying to edit a lot of pages with errors in specific locations.

You can't open more than one file at a time, and I honestly couldn't find a way to close the file I had open. Sometime I just want to go back to the "choose a file" default screen so I can think about what to do next, and the only way to do this is to go out to the "all sites" thumbnails screen and re-login. It would also be nice if that default screen had the files window open by default. It's not obvious at first how to open a file and that screen looks like an error message.

When I clicked on the "Markup Support" link in iTunes, I was taken to a Twitter page for @markupapp. Twitter doesn't feel like support to me. But you may disagree.

Markup is Expensive

Hopefully some or all of my concerns will be addressed at some point, but right now $10 for an app that is useful only for fixing typos is very expensive.

Disclosure: This product was reviewed using a copy purchased by Jennifer Kyrnin and from information on their iTunes store site. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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