If you have been following my latest tweets I have mentioned regularly about website development. The reason behind this is due to the fact I am using Coda by Panic. Coda is an all in one application for developing and maintaining websites. It really has everything you need and trust me when I say you don’t need another program at all, not even your web browser. The program is a mix of CSSEdit, TextMate, Expandrive, Terminal, Transmit, Versions, Safari and a reference manual all in one.
One of the two main areas in Coda is the sites section (the other being edit). Here you are do a variety of things. You can set up sites so you can quickly access there files and folders (as show in the image below). By adding your site and its thumbnail you can quickly load the required files and folders. As you set up sites you can change the settings so it will only load a certain tree of folders. This is very useful if you have more than one site on a server.
Coda also has two other functions built in, and FTP browser and a subversion control system. Although not specifically part of the “Sites” tab (these tabs are at the top of the page) it sort of fits in this section. The FTP section show on the left of the image is what you use to organise and change files and folders. It is a cut down version of Panic’s Transmit so you can do a lot with it. For example you can drag and drop files, change the chmod settings and organise your server. You can also switch between any local copies to view and modify them.
One other features of Coda is the subversion built right in. Subversion, for people who do not know, is a method of keeping files, folders and other programs upto date as well as tracking changes. I currently don’t use this feature, I have no really need for it. But, from what I have read, it is just as good as some of the subversion programs you can buy.
The second biggest feature in Coda is the editing section. Since you spend a lot of time editing files this section has been designed so you can right code quickly. For example you have syntax highlighting, automatic closing of tags, tab completion, as well as other small features that help you quickly right a html document in a matter of minutes.
The code section isn’t as powerful as TextMate, for example, it doesn’t have hundreds of different syntax highlighting methods or lots of shortcuts to get things done. It is on the other hand focused on helping you design web pages. There is a small hits and tips bar at the bottom to help you right good code. The autocomplete is good for making sure you include everything.
The CSS section of Coda is very useful. Although it is not as simple to use as CSSEdit it is an adequate substitution. It does have button shortcuts to enable you to quickly add and remove rules. There is a couple of problems with the CSS section, for example adding rules using the tab means you can’t see the code, but you can split the page in half, a slight compromise. As well as this, unlike CSSEdit, when you add a CSS rule it doesn’t add the ending semi-colon (;) to the rule. This is slightly annoying if you have used CSSEdit for a long while and are used to certain characters being automatically added.
Like I have said before Coda has Safari built in. Although it doesn’t have all of Safari’s functions it is built on Webkit. So what you see in Coda you see in Safari. It allows you to view files as they would normally. Personally I don’t use it and I prefer Firefox and the Firebug plugin.
No server would be without its Terminal, especially if you run your own server. The Terminal in Coda runs exactly like it does on your Mac. The idea behind including this is so you don’t have to switch applications you can keep it all in one. Its a good way of working with your server without having a million program windows open.
A minor feature of Coda is the built in books. These are used as reference guides. Instead of searching the web to try and find what you want, you can use the books instead. Although they are a bit brief on the details in some sections they are useful if you forget a function and need a reminder.
This is an amazing application no doubts about it. For a web developer it has everything you need. You will never need another program again. It does get a little bit time to get used to how all of the features work. But in no time you will be whizzing along getting your web developments up and running.
The application does cost $99 ($85 if you have Transmit) which is a bit expensive. But you do get at least three full sized programs inside it. Considering TextMate and CSSEdit will cost you over $100, it is worth it.