Visual Studio Code Runs Well in Safari on iPad with Cursor Support

Mar 22, 2020
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A developer successfully tried out Visual Studio Code in Safari with iPadOS 13.4 and its new cursor support. Visual Studio Code was deployed and run remotely from a server, all setup from an iPad. Despite a few minor issues, this experiment showed that the iPad can be a great tool for development now that it has cursor and trackpad support.

George B. the developer who attempted to use VS Code on iPad, shared his experience on Twitter. He tested the whole setup on iOS 13.4 GM, and the mouse support allowed him to use the IDE without many issues.

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George shared that although he could use the IDE and its debugger, there were a few issues. However, he found workarounds to these issues as well:

1. Custom fonts installed via iFont don’t work in Safari (fixed by loading them via CSS)

2. Scrolling wheel doesn’t work in editor (arrow keys and scrollbar to the rescue)

3. Lack of escape key (ctrl+[ works)

The whole setup was made possible through the use of code-server, which allows developers to deploy Visual Studio Code on a server and use it remotely. It is an amazing tool to code remotely from anywhere, while utilizing the power of your server and preserving battery life on your device. Code-server can be set up on Linux and macOS, while Windows support is not available yet.

If you are interested in replicating this setup, you can check out the instruction on Github for code-server. The server requirements are as following:

  • 64-bit host.
  • At least 1GB of RAM.
  • 2 cores or more are recommended (1 core works but not optimally).
  • Secure connection over HTTPS or localhost (required for service workers and clipboard support).
  • For Linux: GLIBC 2.17 or later and GLIBCXX 3.4.15 or later.

A server with these requirements can be acquired for as low as $3/month.

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Before you think that the setup would require a “real computer” which means you would have to use a Windows PC or Mac to set up the server, here is another interesting tidbit. George set up Visual Studio Code using apps like Termius (for SSH) and WorkingCopyApp. Even GitHub’s official app is available on iPad now, which should make things even easier.

Despite such experimentations, Apple still needs to show seriousness and allow developers to create fully-functional and native development environments for iPad, which take full advantage of the performance that A-series chips have to offer. The iPad is already a popular tool for writers, artists and content creators. Maybe iPadOS 14 might be the update where Apple makes it happen.

Products mentioned in this post

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