This Week's Sponsor:


Ensure that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta.

View Source Code in Safari with an Action Extension

Developed by Paul Hudson, View Source is a $0.99 Universal app that, as the name largely implies, lets you view the source code for webpages (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) in iOS’ Safari with an action extension.

In the years I’ve been running MacStories and since I switched to the iPad as my primary device, I’ve often needed to debug problems on the site by looking at its source code output. Before I figured I could use Python to fetch a page’s source, I was forced to ask my colleagues or my web developer to grab the source code for me because “I was on the iPad”. In spite of iPhones and iPads being required test devices for web developers these days, Apple never added native developer features to iOS that wouldn’t need a Mac to work. I was stuck with my Python scripts and help from friends over iMessage.

With iOS 8 extensions, apps like View Source can be possible thanks to direct integration with Safari and access to the DOM. Once enabled in the browser’s share sheet, View Source will bring up a full-screen panel with source code you can read and copy. A share button lets you copy all text to the clipboard, send as email, or choose one from eight themes that include dark backgrounds and lighter styles. All these themes support syntax highlighting – a better visualization than my old scripts that didn’t support highlighting at all.

If you don’t want to run View Source as an extension (though that’s the biggest advantage), you can also use it as a standalone app. In that case, the app will simply let you browse websites manually (just like Linky).

I wish that View Source could do more. Notably, there is no support for search or browsing of specific HTML tags, which combined with the lack of line-wrapping makes it difficult to read source code as you need to constantly scroll horizontally on the screen (especially a problem on the iPhone’s smaller screen in portrait mode). I’m hoping that a text reflow mode will be added soon, and I wouldn’t mind the more advanced options for viewing source code found in Mac apps such as Coda.

View Source isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start. Being able to view source code directly in Safari is a much better experience than having to use a dedicated app that’s not your main browser. Once again, developers are still figuring out the best ways to work with extensions in iOS 8, and View Source is yet another example of these new possibilities.

View Source is $0.99 on the App Store.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.