First Look at Coda 1.0

I saw that Coda was coming out on Monday, and I knew it might take over my morning. I mean, it's a new web development from a developer that knows how to write Mac software. If I started playing around with it, I knew I'd get nothing else done for several hours.

So I pretended it wasn't there, and it was working quite successfully until Jesper decided to send me an IM about how great it is. This is like working on your thesis and getting a text message about how great Disneyland is.

Coda Screenshot 1


So I looked at it, but I showed restraint. I did my first twenty minute run through, and started showing it to some other folks. I still haven't had a good real sit-down with it yet, but my basic reaction is this: somebody finally got it right.

Literally, every time I worked with a web development app, there was an initial honeymoon period, then I'd think "this is ridiculous," and go back to a text editor, Safari, Terminal, and Transmit for uploads. It's like all other web development tools were designed by people who weren't actually building websites.

Now, I'll be honest. There are still some rough edges in Coda, but it's like the sun coming up over the horizon. It doesn't fully illuminate every corner of the landscape yet, but you know that dawn has finally broken.

I see what they're trying to do, and they're already miles ahead of everyone else, so I purchased a license while it was still downloading. I want to invest in this sort of thinking, and I want to invest in great Mac developers.
                                
Favorite Features

First, I want to mention that I intentionally didn't read any other reviews because I wanted to have a clean slate. So if any of this is echoed elsewhere, I apologize.

The super-fast summary of what I like is this: the site file hierarchy, CSS controls, Terminal, web preview, and editing is all built right in. In other words, this is true Xcode of the web development world. There's probably utility for the shared editing, but most of my web projects involve one writer at a time.

Coda Screenshot 2


Built-in web reference? Genius. Visual regex? Finally. We've only been waiting for that for 25 years. The inline list of the remote file hierarchy is a huge productivity gain.

As for raw editing, TextMate is miles beyond Coda's built-in editor. There's absolutely no comparison. But that's to be expected because TextMate is entirely focused on editing text, and Coda casts a much wider net. For what it's worth, this is the same arrangement that I have for Cocoa projects. Xcode is the project-organizer, and I do 85% of my actual code writing in TextMate.

I think one of the major adjustments is going to be realizing that I have a much easier workflow available to me now, and catch myself if I try to wedge my previous workflow into this tool. Instead of bouncing between apps, I have to stop myself and say "wait, I can just click on this toolbar item."

Also, the design? Truly fantastic. An interesting balance between bold design decisions and the more established, traditional Mac OS X look. Winner.
Design Element
First Look at Coda 1.0
Posted Apr 25, 2007 — 23 comments below




 

StuFF mc — Apr 25, 07 3957

Truly a winner ! I had the chance to be part of the Beta Testers and it was really hard for me to shut my m... so long ;) The only complain I have right now is that I still need to use transmit for some tasks, which should not be the case, but it's truly an App deserving at least one ADA (if not 3 or 4 !) : Cabel, did you submit it to ADA ?

Michael Strck — Apr 25, 07 3958

I bought it about half an hour after downloading it. And I don't even do a whole lot of web development these days.

Roger — Apr 25, 07 3959

I bought Coda a few hours after it's release. About 10 minutes after playing around with it, I trashed Rapidweaver and Sandvox. This is the app I've been waiting for. Those other apps can't touch this. You can do just about anything in Coda. Rapidweaver and Sandvox won't even allow you to edit its own CSS or HTML without exporting the whole site and then having to customize the rest in a text editor.

I hope Panic submitted this to the ADA. They'll clean house on the awards!

StuFF mc — Apr 25, 07 3960

Roger, you can't really compare RW of SV with Coda... It's pretty easy, on a scale of "Newbie to Geek" of making a Website, the path is

1. iWeb, if you really don't understand anyting and you're cheap
2. Sandvox, if you want a flashy website but you can't customize a lot
3. Rapidweaver, if you want a pretty customizable (lots of plugins) Web, but still don't want to play around with HTML
4. Dreamweaver, if you'd like to have full control but prefer to do most of the things in the design view. Additionnaly, if you really have way too much money to spend for a Web Editor :)
5. Coda, if you're a real man :) :) Except some tiny bugs, it's really hard to think of any thing they did not implement, except maybe a Design view, but if you are a real man :)

The biggest problem with Coda, it's that it's like when Apple release some Apps : a few developers/companies are about to loose some market share ;) But once again, Coda is relly for the Geeks among us. Realize it's not like the majority of Mac Users having a Website know shit about HTML or CSS...

Tom — Apr 25, 07 3961

I don't think I would call it visual "regex"... all it does it find and replace with some simple substitutions. Visual regex is an interesting idea though...

Ravi Khalsa — Apr 25, 07 3962

Would be interesting to read opinions from experienced users of CSSEdit about Coda's CSS editor.

J Nozzi — Apr 25, 07 3963

I bought Coda after an evening of reflection but before downloading and trying it. This was one of the rare times I've ever done a buy-before-I-try, so to speak. I did so for two reasons:

1: Based on the tour on Panic's web site, it appeared there was finally a tool that did exactly what I wanted it to -- that is, it keeps track of my site files (allowing me to upload the modified files in one go), allows me to edit/preview HTML and CSS, gives me a terminal, and does it all in a single interface.

2: I'm a registered user of Transmit and hold Panic in high esteem. I have faith that, whatever its 1.0 limitations, Coda will be expanded upon and I'm sure it'll gain plenty of new features before I'll have to pay for an upgrade. It's already quite the impressive tool with plenty of promise.

After spending last evening familiarizing myself with it, I'm reasonably sure I made the right impulse ... er ... choice. As mentioned, the editor really isn't that great. I detest wrap-to-column-zero on indented lines (I'm anal like that) and I miss code folding (though with the Symbols list, it's reasonably easy to navigate my document ... I'd rather see that in an outline view with true DOM tags, though).

I not only set up my site in Coda, but all the Help Books for my products. Now I have one place to go to do "web work" and I'm in love with the idea.

What's missing, however, is Subversion support. I realize this isn't easy to do right (look at XCode's support) but it's the missing feature that would make Coda's feature set "perfect" in my eyes. Well, that and a nice database browser for at least MySQL and PostgreSQL databases ... ;-)

I look forward to many updates and improvements.

Norbert — Apr 25, 07 3965

Coda looks great.
I'd like to know, how they did the Site view.

DTNick — Apr 25, 07 3966

Would be interesting to read opinions from experienced users of CSSEdit about Coda's CSS editor.
From my limited time playing with Coda, it is very similar to CSSEdit. There are a few quirks, however:

1. There doesn't seem to be any way to add comments from the visual editor.
2. There doesn't seem to be any grouping functionality.
3. there doesn't seem to be any way to specify a hex color value from the visual editor.

Additionally, CSSEdit includes a code validator and milesotnes (basically restore points for your CSS). There are a couple other things that CSSEdit has over Coda as well.

David — Apr 25, 07 3967

I love Transmit, but I can't see a pro-level developer surviving in Coda. They have the wrong philosophy... "one-window web development" ... I need to see many files and apps at once while programming. There are many well-intentioned, but fundamentally flawed IDEs already available and this one is simply prettier.

This Coda app is getting way too much credit for what it is. The 5 point scale mentioned above may apply to static HTML/CSS developers, but not true programmers.

I wish Panic success with the app, but keep the hype in check, please!

Jesper — Apr 25, 07 3968

David: You can open multiple windows and multiple tabs, and even keep the text version and 'fancy CSS editor' version of a stylesheet open side-by-side. The editor itself could use some work, but I'd have no problems getting by using solely Coda, Photoshop and Transmit (for non-sync file management) for all of my web work.

DTNick: I'd like hex color entering in the CSS editor too, but I suppose that that - and things like comments - is what the text editor is for. (I'd be remiss if I didn't point out my own color panel picker though: Hex Color Picker, with which you can enter hex colors in any color panel.)

Scott Ahten — Apr 25, 07 3969

In addition to FTP, I'd love to see support for Subversion.

immts — Apr 25, 07 3971

Color me underwhelmed.

So much potential. But personally, I need a visual editing mode. I usually code in DW+BBedit roundtripping in splitscreen. I know you savants can see the visual in your heads as you write code but a lot of us can't.

It sure is a great idea though. I want DW+BBedit with this interface. That would rock.

Scott Stevenson — Apr 26, 07 3974 Scotty the Leopard

@Roger: Rapidweaver and Sandvox won't even allow you to edit its own CSS or HTML
I don't think those apps are really aimed at the same sort of user. Many users really want visual editing, it's just that there's a certain class of user that this is not useful for.

@J Nozzi: Well, that and a nice database browser for at least MySQL and PostgreSQL databases
I agree.

@DTNick: From my limited time playing with Coda, it is very similar to CSSEdit
By this I assume you mean the CSS component of Coda? Obviously CSSEdit is much more specialized, whereas Coda is more of an IDE.

@Norbert: I'd like to know, how they did the Site view
It's probably mostly just Quartz, but I don't know for sure.

@David: The 5 point scale mentioned above may apply to static HTML/CSS developers, but not true programmers
I really think people are getting too stuck on the idea that it's going to be a better CSS editor than CSSEdit, a better text editor than TextMate (or what have you), and so on. It's not.

As far as I can see, it's an 80% solution in the middle of all of the tools. For some, the features in dedicated apps are more important. For others, the sanity of having everything together is worth sacrificing some features. Or you can use it in conjunction with other apps, which is what I can see myself doing.

@immts: But personally, I need a visual editing mode. I usually code in DW+BBedit roundtripping in splitscreen. I know you savants can see the visual in your heads as you write code but a lot of us can't.
I believe Coda is at least partially designed for the people that design in Photoshop/Illstrator and move to text editors for the production phase. Certainly there's a market for visual editors, but that model can get in the way if you're used to doing that portion in Photoshop.

Michael Strck — Apr 26, 07 3975

Am I stupid, or is there absolutely no way to bring up .htaccess files in the Coda editor? Why is there no option to show them?

Nathan Day — Apr 26, 07 3982

The program just show how we need something like OpenDoc. This program could be done even better by having multiple programs all sharing the same window.

Scott Stevenson — Apr 27, 07 3983 Scotty the Leopard

@Nathan Day: This program could be done even better by having multiple programs all sharing the same window
In a sense, yes. I don't think you want to wedge the entire application in, but it can work if the developer of a particular app is willing to provide an embeddable engine, in the way that the core Safari functionality is offered by WebKit, or QuickTime can display media content.

Magnus Nordlander — Apr 28, 07 4010

I took a look at Coda as well. First impression: cool. Second impression: dang, I can't use this...

Why? Well, I develop sites using the Symfony framework (which isn't entirely unlike RoR). This means that the path on the disk doesn't necessarily mean anything for which URL the module and it's actions will use. Also, since it uses the decorator pattern I usually never see the entire HTML at once.

This means that I can't really use the preview features of Coda. Also, I use subversion for almost any web project, which means that using the FTP happens only when I deploy a project, for which using transmit is fine by me.

This pretty much means sticking to TextMate (which I really like anyway), because not being able to do everything in the same app sort of defeats the purpose of Coda, which also makes it impossible to justify paying $79 for it.

If the possibility to use Symfony from within Coda, well, that would be an entirely different story :)

Scott Stevenson — Apr 28, 07 4011 Scotty the Leopard

This means that I can't really use the preview features of Coda
I don't think that's really specific to Coda, is it? Local file references often don't match up to where they'll be in production, so you have to run a development server on your machine. It's certainly true with Rails projects. In any case, the Preview is not tied to the physical file system. You can type anything you want in there. You could use Safari, but the whole point is that you don't have to keep switching between apps.

This pretty much means sticking to TextMate (which I really like anyway)
I hear that.

which also makes it impossible to justify paying $79 for it
Actually $69, since you already have Transmit.

Magnus Nordlander — Apr 28, 07 4012

I don't think that's really specific to Coda, is it? Local file references often don't match up to where they'll be in production, so you have to run a development server on your machine.
No, it's by no means specific to Coda, but it would be so awesome if they somehow were to solve it for me, or provide a way for me to solve it for myself. What I would imagine in that case would be some sort of plugin architecture which would allow for really tailor Coda for usage with whatever framework one might be using. Mostly for preview mapping but also for things like snippets, or more advanced auto completion. Also Subversion integration would be awesome. In fact, what would be even more awesome (but sort of redundant with Leopard) would be offering to set up a local repository for every new project.

Actually what would be totally awesome would be if Panic teamed up with Macromates and had some integrated TextMate in Coda. Not that the editor in Coda is bad, it's just not as good as TextMate :)

Actually $69, since you already have Transmit.
I did not know that. That would be awesome if I was looking to buy it :)

(Note to any lurking Panic developer: Adding some of this stuff would make me a Coda user :) )

Scott Stevenson — Apr 29, 07 4014 Scotty the Leopard

@Magnus Nordlander: Actually what would be totally awesome would be if Panic teamed up with Macromates and had some integrated TextMate in Coda
I considered that within the first 30 seconds or so. In fact, if that happened, we would have to formally retire the phrase "totally awesome," because nothing following it could ever meet the same standard.

Carl Fooks — Apr 29, 07 4015

@J Nozzi

Apache 2.2 has automatic Subversion support in their DAV module (I believe). So, you mount your web site using DAV, edit away and Apache commits the changes to the Subversion repository!

Check out 20 Things You Didnít Know You Could Do With Apache for (slightly) more information and 19 other things you didn't know you could do!

(It's #20 btw).

JCG — Apr 01, 08 5698

Panic is definitely a killer application for the work with (X)HTML and CSS. The only thing I'm missing is code folding.

By the way, Panic is my favourite software development company: Their applications are always great, e.g. Transmit, Unsison and now Coda.

I love how they manage to combine that ease-of-use with all the professional features.

Using their apps is pure fun.




 

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