As nice as it is to write a for-my-eyes-only script to solve a specific problem on my Mac, it is satisfying in an entirely new way to write code on a mobile device. It just feels less like "programming" and more like making a better pocket knife.
A mundane problem I wanted to solve:
I love budgeting, but not as much as I love food. It's always been a struggle for me to manage what I'm spending eating out over the course of a month—especially since what my family and I spend at restaurants tends to vary a lot in size and frequency.
It's easy to set a food budget at the beginning of the month, and it's easy to see whether we came in under or over that budget at the end of the month, but it's a lot harder to ascertain whether or not I'm on track as the days of the month tick by.
The pocket knife solution:
I wrote a simple Python script in Pythonista that takes a monthly dollar figure—my remaining food budget for the month—and averages it over the remaining days in the current month:
import datetime, calendar import sys import console budget = float(sys.argv) d = datetime.datetime.today().day m = datetime.datetime.today().month y = datetime.datetime.today().year last = calendar.monthrange(y,m) remaining_per_day = budget / (last - d) message = 'You have $' + str(round(remaining_per_day,2)) + ' remaining per day for the next ' + str(last - d) + ' days.' console.clear() print message
The Python script itself is fairly unremarkable, but what impressed the hell out of me is that I was able to write it entirely on my iPhone, then slap a "GUI" on it using Launch Center Pro.
I don't even have to open Pythonista to use it. I just tap a Launch Center Pro action, enter a dollar figure, and Launch Center Pro sends it to Pythonista, which runs the script and puts an answer in the console.
<img src="/img/img.gif" alt=""/>
This little workflow takes advantage of Pythonista's ability to accept standard input via its URL scheme and Launch Center Pro's ability to send a URL that consists partly of numeric keypad input.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400.0"]<img src="/img/img.png" alt="In LCP's action settings, enter Pythonista's URL scheme in the URL field along with [prompt-num], which is LCP's variable for keypad input. The name of the Python script in this example is Budget.py."/> In LCP's action settings, enter Pythonista's URL scheme in the URL field along with [prompt-num], which is LCP's variable for keypad input. The name of the Python script in this example is Budget.py.[/caption]
This was a mundane problem, but the solution feels remarkable.
To me, Pythonista is a very important app because it feels like an obvious step toward a future where more software creation will happen on devices that we don't think of as "computers" in the conventional sense.
Maybe I'm overblowing all this, but I just think it's amazing that I can write a piece of code on a mobile device, then snap a few blocks together to essentially create a custom app. I can't help but think the future of programming won't feel like "programming"—much like using an iPhone doesn't feel like "computing."
- Anything Gabe Weatherhead has written about Pythonista
- Anything Dr. Drang has written about Pythonista, especially his expense report workflow using Drafts and Pythonista
- Brett Kelly on using Pythonista and Launch Center Pro for better web site sharing
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