TouchTerm Pro brings a touch of excellence to mobile SSH

February 24, 2009 by Rob  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Utility

touchterm1 100x150 TouchTerm Pro brings a touch of excellence to mobile SSHI 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 icon wink TouchTerm Pro brings a touch of excellence to mobile SSH , 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.

touchterm11 300x200 TouchTerm Pro brings a touch of excellence to mobile SSH

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.

touchterm6 300x200 TouchTerm Pro brings a touch of excellence to mobile SSH

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.

App Review: Lexel by, LLC

February 15, 2009 by Dorothy  
Filed under Daily App Reviews, Games

Lexel is a fast-paced word game.  You are presented with a board full of squares similar to a Scrabble board.  When the game starts, letters begin randomly popping up in arbitrary places on the board.  Your job is to spell words with the letters to clear them off the board before it fills up entirely with letters.  There are three different speeds of play (slow, medium, fast) and four different board sizes (small, medium, large, huge) to choose from.  You earn points for each word that you spell based factors such as length of the word and speed of the game.  More points are awarded for more difficult to use letters as well, just as in Scrabble.  You can earn bonus points for using bonus letters that appear on the screen in a different color (like the “c” in the picture below) and for spelling a word that extends the whole length or width of the board.

To spell a word on the board you must drag the letters into the proper order.  You may not drag a letter over other letters on the board.  There must be a path open from the space where the letter is to the space where you want to move the letter to.  As the board fills up, letters may become boxed in and difficult to move.  Words must be at least 3 letters long, but can be spelled horizontally or vertically (left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom, or bottom-to-top).  When the letters are lined up, tap on the first letter of the word and then on the last letter of the word to clear it from the board.  You must work quickly, though, because the speed at which the new letters appear will increase the longer you play.

lexel2 200x300 App Review: Lexel by, LLClexel3 200x300 App Review: Lexel by, LLC

When the board does fill entirely with letters, the first phase of the game is over.  New letters stop appearing, and you have the task of trying to clear as many of the remaining letters on the board as you can.  The point value for these words is significantly reduced because the game speed is zero.  However, if you can clear all of the remaining letters, there is a big bonus in store.  When you cannot spell anymore words, you tap on the “done” button followed by “end game” button to signal the end of the game.  If your score was a high score, you will then be asked to enter your name.  You can also tap on “words” to see all of the words that you spelled and the point values that you earned for them.

For the most part, this is a well-written game that is fun and challenging to play.  However, I did find one thing that is a little confusing and awkward.  It is the fact that when the game board fills up with letters, there is not a good signal at the end of the first phase and the beginning of the next to let the player know what is going on.  There is only a small message in the corner of the screen that says, “Try to clear the board!”  The first time I played it, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening and why I wasn’t getting the typical “Game Over” screen.  After rereading the instructions, I realized that this phenomenon was part of the game.  The player actually has to signal the end of the game by tapping “Done” instead of the other way around.  I guess once you know what to expect, it is no big deal. It was just a strange way to end the game.  Overall, a good pick for the word savvy.

Lexel is $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.

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