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Finding your way around iOS roadblocks

As I wrote earlier this month, I ended up completing my Six Colors Report Card story on Mac because I ran into multiple blockages when I tried to complete the project on the iPad.

The point was not that these tasks were impossible on the iPad, but that they were inconvenient enough, which meant I was going to investigate a lot of apps or find solutions or write scripts – that I was better off just going back to my Mac and work there, primarily in BBEdit and Numbers.

I complained that I could not do grep search in optional iOS text editors, and although true, several pointed out that there are iOS apps capable of them, especially Coda by Panic and Textastic Code Editor 7. I own both of these apps, and while I don't like writing articles that use them, those development tools are more than writing tools. They absolutely support grips and I will use them in the future when I have to do pattern matching searches on iOS.

I do not want to write in Textastic, but it was well arrested.


I also regretted the lack of BBEdit's Sort Line s feature in some of my chosen iOS text editors. I still have no answer to this, although I get a clear sense that if I spent a few hours teaching me more JavaScript, I can figure out how to write some scripts for 1Writer that would do the trick.

However, the biggest obstacle to completing the work on the iPad came from the fact that I needed to generate a lot of charts in Numbers and they use a non-standard font, Proxima Nova, which was not installed on the iPad. How do you install additional fonts on the iPad?

It turns out there is a way – just a spectacular inelegant. Multiple apps will do so, take font files transferred from Mac, and pack them into custom configuration files, and then send them to yourself, where you can install them through the Settings app. I tried the free iFont and it worked perfectly. Installing via the same type of custom configuration file you want to use to install VPN software or choosing one of Apple's beta testing programs is not intuitive in any way, but using iFont, I could get charts to show on my iPad identical to how they appears on my Mac.

See, Proxima Nova in numbers on iPad.

This is perhaps my last lesson from this process: That I can work around most, if not all, of the directions that iOS places in front of me. It can take an app I've never heard of, a feature in 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. It's not necessarily an endorsement – in the end it was far easier for me to go back to Mac, where I've gathered all the tools I need to do my job for over two decades. It is a reminder that as attractive as working on my iPad, there are still tough areas that I have much more comfortable handling on my Mac.

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