12 Essential Desktop Apps for iOS Developers

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For developers, using only the Code Editor or IDE to develop applications isn’t enough. While IDEs have many features to improve developer workflow, different apps focused on a single task does the job better. Here are 12 essential desktop apps we use and recommend for iOS developers:

Version Control

Tower ($69-99/year) macOS/Win

Website

For those who prefer GUIs over CLI’s, Tower is a Git client that has all the functions Git has, and does it in a very simplified way. Adding remotes, managing branches and harder stuff like rebasing can be done via buttons and dragging/dropping. It can setup git-flow branching system, and has Gerrit support. You can choose which diffing tool you want to use to resolve conflicts. macOS version is going a little ahead of the Windows version, but both are very good.

git client tower for mac

File Diffing & Merging

Kaleidoscope ($69.99) macOS

Website

There is always the free FileMerge bundled with macOS, but it’s UI is old and non-ascii files and non-text formats are not supported. Kaleidoscope has a nice UI, and it can compare images, files and folders. It has built in support for Git, SVN and Mercurial as well. There’s also an iPad version, which is sold for $19.99.

Documentation

Dash ($29.99) macOS

Website

Developers spend a good chunk of their time reading documentation. Dash collects documentation from hundreds of programming languages and frameworks. You can navigate among them and it has good fuzzy search. It also integrates with most of the IDEs and automation software.

A Companion for SwiftUI ($49.99) macOS

Website

Apple’s SwiftUI documentation is lacking depth and some modifiers don’t have an overview. A Companion is SwiftUI is an app that lists all SwiftUI Types, Protocols and Methods with clear examples and explanation on how they work. You can also preview some of the types if they are also available on the Mac.

For a list of new things added to SwiftUI with iOS 15, check out our Major iOS 15 API Changes for Developers article.

A Companion for SwiftUI

View Debugging

Reveal ($59-119) macOS

Website

Reveal is a view debugging tool for UIKit apps. It’s much like the Web Inspector in browsers. You can see the entire view hierarchy in 2D or 3D, and filter views based on their memory address. You can inspect every view and its underlying CALayer, and updating a value from the inspector updates the app being debugged. It also inspects Auto Layout constraints and they can be altered as well. Reveal saved us many hours debugging UIs.

Regular Expressions

Patterns ($2.99) macOS

Website

Patterns is an app to test and write Regular Expressions. It also exports code in a selected programming language

Patterns for Mac

Push Notification

Knuff  (Free, Open Source)

GitHub

Knuff is an app to test push notifications. You can provide a JSON payload and select a certificate. Then given a device token, you can send notifications instantly. It also has an iOS app.

Knuff for macOS

HTTP Client

Paw ($49.99) macOS

Website

If you’re making an app that communicates with a server API, then Paw is highly recommended. You can add all the requests and Paw will send them and display responses. It exports code to a variety of networking libraries. You can also create variables from response values. It supports multiple server environments. You can import Postman files too.

Visuals

Codye (Free, with Pro version $8.99) macOS

Website

With Codye, you can generate screenshots for code snippets in an elegant way.

PaintCode ($199/year) macOS

Website

If you want to draw all visuals, iconography with code, PaintCode is a must. You can import vector graphics or draw your own and PaintCode gives you the UIBezierPath / CoreGraphics code. You can also parameterize certain values and they become configurable in your app.

PaintCode 3

ColorSnapper 2 ($14.99) macOS

Website

ColorSnapper is a color picker that can convert colors to values in code. You can easily get Swift/Obj-C UIColor/NSColor values from a color you picked. It also supports advanced settings to match copied value to match your code style.

Disk

DevCleaner for Xcode (Free)

Website

While developing in Xcode, the Developer folders increase in size over time. DevCleaner is a free tool that cleans your Xcode artifacts, such as DerivedData, iOS Images, Simulators, and more… You can pick what to delete and it supports multiple Xcode installations.

We’ve tried to list all the desktop apps we use frequently while developing iOS apps. If you’ve found this article useful, feel free to share this with others.


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