Make Codea a "Full" Lua IDE - Beyond gaming

I’ve been working on a Lua tutorial, and choosing an IDE has been difficult because most options… aren’t so great. If I could have it my way, I’d just use Codea. Not only is it Lua 5.4, but it’s brilliant. Fire it up, and it just works. That’s what I want.

The debug console in “Run” mode is adequate, but I’m just as likely to write library code that doesn’t make use of Codea’s draw() loop driven approach. In those cases, the thin vertical sidebar style console is cumbersome.

I’ve posted about the value of Codea, and I’d pay quite a bit just to have a console while coding. That is, the option to run my app without passing control over to the game window.

Ideally, it would occupy a horizontal panel (rather than the vertical layout in run mode) placed at the bottom of the coding screen. Perhaps 1/3 of the screen dedicated to the interactive console - obviously with the option to hide it.

In addition, there would be a run mode dedicated to running my app/library tests without leaving the code editor: no sliding over to a drawing surface.

The fact that I can run Codea on the desktop in macOS makes it even more valuable.

Codea has a couple syntax parsing bugs and some runtime oddities that I’ll report in a different post. If they were fixed, and if I could have this “console” view, I’d shell out another $15 for the add-on.

It wouldn’t make Codea a “true” alternative to a desktop IDE on account of the iOS sandboxing and the inability to drop in whatever 3rd party modules I like, but I can live with that.

It really beats the desktop experience of…

IDE setup:

  1. VS Code? Sublime? vi? etc.

  2. Prepping the OS environment (anybody new to coding isn’t going to want to fiddle with building Lua themselves or even dealing with the binary installs)

  3. Prepping the IDE for Lua (EmmyLua, etc.)

Coding process:

  1. Create your project environment (JSON in VS Code, etc.)

  2. Attaching a debugger (if you want to execute inside the IDE (WHICH I DO))

  3. Having to switch to a shell to execute “> lua main.lua” (for example)

  4. Return to the IDE to fix whatever’s broken

Codea already does it out of the box - it’s just missing a debugging console in the code editor.

Not only would you make me very happy, but it would be a non-donation means of letting us invest in Codea. It would be the absolute best of both worlds (gaming IDE and a let’s-just-do-some-Lua IDE).