TouchTerm Pro brings a touch of excellence to mobile SSH
I recently decided to approach the various SSH app developers in hopes of creating the be-all comparison review of SSH apps offered in the App Store. I was surprised that most of the developers (except two) declined my request so rather than doing the be-all review I’ve decided to turn my focus to the two that did reply. The other app BTW, was iSSH which I will post on later in the week.
TouchTerm Pro, from the makers of Lexel and other quality iPhone apps, is an SSH client for the iPhone aimed at professionals. This app is so vast in its functions that in writing this review I had a hard time finding a place to start. Having said that, if you’re looking for a simple SSH app to do basic tasks then look at TouchTerm (the free version of the same app), but if you’re looking for a full featured SSH app then keep reading.
As I mentioned before, TT Pro is aimed at professionals or those that would need SSH capabilities from anywhere, anytime and would use it often. I say this because there are many functions to learn and know with TT Pro before one is proficient with it. I use SSH a lot, especially at my day job (no, this site is not my day job , and it took me a few times through the instructions and help screens before I got a good idea of what TT Pro can do and how to do it. Hopefully this isn’t scaring anyone, because actually, once you know the various screen gestures and touch areas on the screen you become way more proficient at your mobile SSH tasks and you really start to see the power and convenience that this app offers.
You start, like any SSH app, by setting up a connection to a remote system. Once your credentials are entered you can connect and are presented with a very familiar green text on black terminal screen. The keyboard lays over the top of your terminal window (yes, over) and while this is odd at first it is actually very handy. You set the opacity of the keyboard and with a semi-transparent one you get much more screen space to see the terminal.. much more, and on a small device this is critical. I like the way in which TT Pro has handled this delemna. Along with the regular keyboard, any other SSH keys that you will need (Esc, F-keys, etc) are also set at the same transparency that you set in the config, and overlay the screen. I’ll admit, this does take some getting used to, but once you get more familiar with the placement of the keys you can keep turning down the opacity of the keyboard, and the visual obstructions will be less intrusive.
Plugins: TouchTerm Pro supports some basic plugins… specialized keyboards etc that are downloaded from the TT Pro website. They have a keyboard for VI commands and one for Emacs, so your favorite editor is well supported within the app. Installing the keyboard plugins enables commonly used keys utilized by these editors to be easily accessible and part of the screen gesture modes for keyboards.
Screen Gestures: TT Pro supports many screen gestures. Swipe the screen up or down and zoom in or out. Drag your fingers diagonally to the top left and enter copy/paste mode, move the markers and then touch or multi-touch the top left corner to actually copy and/or paste (yes, I said copy and paste – only within TT Pro though). Touch the left side of the screen once to get arrow keys, multiple times to turn on/off the various installed keyboard “helper keys” (vi keyboard keys, Emacs keyboard keys, F1-F0 keys, etc). Touch the right edge of the screen and get the equivalent to code-auto-comlete drop down (if you’re any type of software developer, you know this function, it’s very cool). There are other gestures as well, may of them, and they will all make your experience with TT Pro that much more productive.
As you can tell there has been a lot of thought and effort put into this app and I hope I have adequately conveyed a few of its advanced features. While I am not a server administrator and don’t spend my evenings in an SSH terminal, there are many out there that do. If this describes you and you’ve been on the fence with this app then here’s your recommendation to jump in. However, if you only lightly use SSH or only need minor functions then look at TouchTerm to see if it meets your needs. Knowing now what you can get in TT Pro however, will likely leave you wanting more if you end up settling on the lite version.
TouchTerm Pro is $14.99 in the iTunes App Store.