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Coda

It’s the little things I love about Coda

I’ve been using Coda for a month now. It took a day for me to realize this was the editor for me. The simplicity, ease of use, feature set, and Mac design just made sense.

After flirting with BBEdit and Textmate, and trying out several flavors of Ecipse IDEs, I decided to give Coda another go. I’d looked at it a year earlier and it wasn’t for me back then. I guess I didn’t look close enough, because a year later things are a different story.

Panic didn’t set out to make the best text editor, CSS editor, etc… They set out to make one single application that contains all you need to build a website. And Panic has done a great job….Shawn Blanc

There are plenty of online reviews of Coda. Shawn Blanc provides a detailed review much more eloquently than I ever could. It is titled Coda: The One-Window Wonder and you can find it and many other interesting tidbits at his blog.

My goal here isn’t to analyze the details of what makes this application tick. I’m not even sure I’m qualified for such an undertaking. I do feel I owe it to the people at Panic and the development community to at least state the things about Coda that make my life easier on a daily basis.

Coda is about user experience. Very few applications ever achieve a GUI that increases productivity. Coda hit the bull’s eye here. In some ways the detail that went into increasing productivity reminds me of Basecamp.

I love Basecamp. If I were designing a site, I wouldn’t have done it the way the Basecamp guys did. It doesn’t have all the features other project management applications have. I sometimes request new features (I’m sure customer service loves me). But something about the simplicity and usability saves me time. I can’t always put my finger on it, but it increases productivity.

I feel the same way about Coda. Coda simplifies everything about my daily work. Fewer clicks, gorgeous GUI; it’s a tool that makes work fun. I’ve decided to list my favorite features that collectively have simplified many hours of my work week.

Source Control Status Window

Some things at my company are great and some are a mess. Our roll process is the latter. We have web designers and developers scattered across two floors and three departments often working on the same projects. To avoid stepping on each other’s toes, we all have our own subversion branch (kudos Matt). Marketing materials roll live daily, which means my branch is usually not updated.

With a simple Command + Control + v, all of that changed. Now as I’m working, I see co-workers adding and committing files. I can’t help but click the update button. I swear I have the most up-to-date repository in the company.

The Source Control Status Window has changed what used to be a major headache in a not-so-organized roll process, into a complete after thought. I never worry about an svn up because of Coda. And if anyone at Panic is listening, please let me save my workspace. If there’s a way to load the Source Control Status Window when I launch the app, I can’t find it.

WebKit Preview

All applications have some sort of preview. In my world of development, there are many applications open at once with limitless windows. Having a copy of Safari (webkit) inside of Coda saves me hundreds of command + tabs per day. It doesn’t seem like much, but it saves me time.

CSS Editor

Here is a feature I really don’t use but I use it everyday. Coda has a built in visual CSS editor. It’s functional and gorgeous. When I write CSS, I’m in the habit of splitting my screen with the CSS editor in the top window and code in the bottom window. Even though I code nearly exclusively in the bottom window, it’s still nice to have the visual editor in the top window as a reference if I ever need a memory refresher.

The editor itself is much nicer than the DreamWeaver sidebar CSS editor. The GUI reminds me of where the Adobe team was going with the GoLive CSS editor (minus the messy code) before it was end-of-lifed. I know there are many nice CSS editors our there (cssedit is one I’ve used and like) but why? The less I command + tab, the more I simplify my life.

Note: I’m not adding window splitting as one of the things I love, mostly because all editors I’ve used include this functionality, but if you ever need to compare long lists, the vertical window split is a very useful tool.

Transmit

Transmit has been OS X’s favorite ftp/ssh client for years. Numerous awards, seamless system integration, once again the guys at Panic hit a home run. Coda includes transmit, and modifies the UI to fit in the sidebar. Fitting the entire application in the side bar means usability suffers a little. You have to tab back and forth between local and remote files, or drag and drop files directly from your desktop or finder into the sidebar. To me, this isn’t that big of a deal considering Coda plays well with Transmit.

The beauty occurs at install when you are prompted to import your favorites from Transmit. Coda is immediately populated with all of your transmit favorites with a single click.

Integration between Transmit and Coda is well thought out. In my work process I often drag files from my dev platform in Coda to other servers I have open in transmit. It seems any drag and drop functionality available in Transmit works as well in Coda including drag and drop between the two apps.

Live Collaboration Via Bonjour

Ok this feature makes me Jones. As I mentioned our office has designers and engineers scattered across our building. This means I am constantly running downstairs to the opposite end of the building. I like working out, but I love working less. The one co-worker that used Coda would share edit with me via the Subetha Engine included in Coda. The stairs were no longer my enemy. But that one worker has now moved on to the greener pastures of iPhone development and I’m left running up and down stairs.

Code Navigator

The Code Navigator is my friend. I haven’t seen one mention of it in any online review, nor on the Panic website, but it is very dear to me. As I scan through ginormous files for lost “id” tags, the perfectly placed Code Navigator saves me time. I find myself navigating to tags and functions out of habit and not necessity because it is so perfectly placed. It feels almost like the left menu navigation on most websites, except I’m skipping over thousands of lines of code I hope to never see again and landing directly on the line I need. Once again…timesaver.

BTW, if you aren’t skilled at Terminal (which Coda also includes), the grep functionality integrated into the file find and replace system will leave you with a smile.

Overall, Coda is a MUST have for me. I’m a fan and I hope Panic continues to surprise me with more amazing products.

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