Subscribe to
Posts
Comments
NSLog(); Header Image

Panic’s Coda is Not My Style

Coda is out, and I can already tell you that it won't take me anywhere near the 14 days offered in the trial to know that I won't be purchasing it. Though I'm sure it has the usual sparkle and usability of a Panic app, the "one-window web development" idea is simply not my style.

I like lots of windows, though occasionally I'll use BBEdit's pseudo-tabs, and I like applications specifically built for their tasks." Jack of all trades, master of none" springs to mind here. Essentially, Panic is asking you to forego your favorite text editor, forego your favorite FTP process, forego your CSS editor, and forego your Terminal in favor of less feature-packed applications that have the potential benefit of being inside of one window. And as I said, "one window" isn't a plus to me - it's a decided negative.

Additionally, Coda falls short in the areas in which it could have excelled. It can't properly handle PHP's include() function - a simple function I rely on quite heavily throughout virtually all of my sites - to render a proper preview. It also cannot easily handle the styling or modification of blogging packages because it cannot parse templates or handle some of the complex things WordPress, MovableType, etc. must do to get data onto a web page.

Coda is iWeb with a college degree, but it is simply not for me. Though I fully expect Cabel and Steven will sell a bunch (the pricing - $69/$79/$99 - is dead on), I'll stick with my mixed basket of BBEdit, CSSEdit, AppleScript, Transmit, staging areas, Terminal, shell scripts, Photoshop, Digital Color Meter, and several other little other pieces for my continued web development.

P.S. I linked to CSSEdit's site above, and it's worth mentioning that version 2.5 is available today. The Apple Design Awards deadline is today, too, in case you were wondering…

15 Responses to "Panic’s Coda is Not My Style"

  1. [...] Barzeski seems pretty much eye-to-eye with me regarding window management: having it all in one window is not his style [...]

  2. Yep. I'm in the same boat. I think apps shouldn't try to do more than one function -- just do one thing, and do it great. For me, Transmit, Textmate and Firefox together each fulfill their purposes great, so why should I shell out for a combined application that most likely will not do the tasks as well as the individual software?

  3. [...] not everyone’s a fan. Erik J. Barzeski [...]

  4. "It also cannot easily handle the styling or modification of blogging packages because it cannot parse templates or handle some of the complex things WordPress, MovableType, etc. must do to get data onto a web page."

    What do you by styling or modification of blogging packages?

    What do you mean by parse templates? Syntax highlighting of blogging package specific tags/identifiers? Or something else? What complex things that a server-side system does to get data onto a web page does Coda need to be supporting that it isn't?

    What more does one need other than a decent text editor with auto-completion and syntax highlighting to mess with HTML templates and CSS declarations? Please note I'm not a PHP developer (but I am a web developer) so perhaps there are complexities when using PHP that I'm not aware of other than the include() limitation you mentioned.

  5. Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    What do you by styling or modification of blogging packages?

    I mean quite a lot of things. I'd like to build a theme offline and then upload it, turn it on, and have it work. That would mean Coda would have to know how to "run" a WordPress theme. Since every Mac has Apache and because WordPress' license allows such use (so far as I know), they could have embedded the WordPress engine or offered it as a plugin.

    If I edit my theme's "head.php" file, Coda won't show me a properly rendered page. If I edit "main.php" it also won't show me anything. I can't edit any part of a WordPress theme and have Coda show me what it will look like.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    Syntax highlighting of blogging package specific tags/identifiers? Or something else? What complex things that a server-side system does to get data onto a web page does Coda need to be supporting that it isn't?

    Since it doesn't do any of the server-side stuff, uhm, all of it, yes please. Syntax highlighting some of the blog-specific tags and identifiers would be nice, too. Maybe it does that for MovableType. Because WordPress is all PHP, it effectively should already do that with basic PHP syntax highlighting.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    What more does one need other than a decent text editor with auto-completion and syntax highlighting to mess with HTML templates and CSS declarations?

    And that's just it for me: I already have a text editor. It's BBEdit. If I'm feeling visual I can use CSSEdit for CSS. I have a toolchain, and I like that my toolchain involves separate applications and separate windows.

    Coda feels almost like a Windows application to me. It's "everything in one window." Heck, that's practically the slogan. Apple, the Mac, and Unix layer beneath have always been about specialized tools for the task. That's why we have drag and drop, AppleScript, and pipes. A multi-tool chain will always be more flexible than a one-tool "chain," and I think more convenient and easier to use.

    Despite Panic's UI skills, no "do a bunch of totally different things all in one window" app will ever really feel very Mac-like to me, and likely will not suit my taste.

  6. I have BBEdit too, and I admit I'm not a BBEdit power user, but, is that something it can do? I haven't heard of any editor supporting previewing WordPress/MT themes without using an external web server to render the pages.

    Since you have Apache/PHP on your Mac, can't you just set up a test environment and run your templates there? Or is this an example of where you say the single window style fails because to preview your templates you need a browser and then you're not doing everything in one window? If that's it, are you really against the fact that it doesn't preview WordPress templates or that since it doesn't throw in the kitchen sink that's evidence that single window UI is bad?

    BTW, I'm not pro or against single window mode, and I'm not trying to advocate for (or against) Coda at all. I just had a hard time understanding what you were disappointed about in your post, hence the questions.

    Erik J. Barzeski said on April 24, 2007:

    Since it doesn't do any of the server-side stuff, uhm, all of it, yes please. Syntax highlighting some of the blog-specific tags and identifiers would be nice, too. Maybe it does that for MovableType. Because WordPress is all PHP, it effectively should already do that with basic PHP syntax highlighting.

    I just looked in my TextMate Bundles menu and I don't see anything for WordPress or MovableType. I'd be happily surprised if BBEdit supports what you're talking about. So I'm curious if you're holding Coda to a higher standard than the editor(s) you're using right now. Again, if your editor(s) support those things please let me know because it would be (good) news to me. I'm a registered user of both BBedit and TextMate, so I love hearing about features in those apps I didn't know about.

    Erik J. Barzeski said on April 24, 2007:

    Coda feels almost like a Windows application to me. It's "everything in one window." Heck, that's practically the slogan.

    Just about every Apple app, aside from them iWork apps, is a single window app. All of the iLife apps are single window. Xcode is single window unless you change the settings around (I did). The Pro apps are largely single window fullscreen apps. Mail is single-window (didn't use to be, back in "the day" - I wish we had a Mailboxes window again). Again, I'm not advocating single window, rather making an observation that Apple's most successful applications take the same approach. Perhaps Panic noticed that pattern and tried to follow it?

    The exception to that pattern is, as I said, the iWork apps, which are inherently document-oriented. It's easy to argue that a text editor is inherently document-oriented too, but then Xcode and tabbed-editing support in BBEdit, TextMate, SubEthaEdit are counterexamples. Emacs too (I'm a real Emacs n00b so go easy on me if I'm wrong there!). One could argue browsers are single window too due to tabs.

    It sounds like you're taking the "do everything in one window" slogan rather literally. I doubt they mean it so absolutely, as in, "we've nailed web workflow, everything you need is in our window, if you need another app to do your job you're doing it wrong". For some people, having those tools in one window is going to be good, but most people will have to use at least another app. Certainly for graphics everyone will.

    I would bet that the most experienced web developers would not prefer the single window style, perhaps out of habit, perhaps because it's not a power-user way to work.

    I bought a copy of Coda yesterday morning, but I haven't tried it yet. I bought it because I was so happy they (presumably) talked the coding monkeys into supporting the SubEtha engine outside of SEE, and went to the effort to integrate it with their application. I'm a big believer in collaborative editing (note that I work from home), and have wished for years that it would become more common in applications... so I felt it made sense to support the company that is taking a lead there. I would go wild if Apple announced SubEtha support in Xcode! :mrgreen:

  7. Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    I have BBEdit too, and I admit I'm not a BBEdit power user, but, is that something it can do? I haven't heard of any editor supporting previewing WordPress/MT themes without using an external web server to render the pages.

    No, it's not. But that's the point: if you're going to force me to work in an inefficient or inflexible (for me) way within a single window, you darn well better offer something my current setup doesn't have.

    I don't use "doesn't support WordPress theming" as an example of "one window is bad" - I use it as an example of "if you're going to force something bad on me, give me something good to compensate."

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    I just looked in my TextMate Bundles menu and I don't see anything for WordPress or MovableType.

    TextMate is a text editor. WordPress is PHP, so it's supported out of the box. I'm fairly certain there's a MovableType plugin for TextMate to do syntax coloring.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    I'd be happily surprised if BBEdit supports what you're talking about.

    At this point I'm not sure what you're talking about. TextMate and BBEdit are still just text editors. They don't "preview" sites. Coda does… so long as every page is 100% complete and without includes, MySQL connectivity, etc.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    Just about every Apple app, aside from them iWork apps, is a single window app. All of the iLife apps are single window. Xcode is single window unless you change the settings around (I did).

    The iApps have one purpose. They're not "five apps in one" like Coda. As such, I have no problem using them in a single window. Comparing Coda to iPhoto in this fashion is pretty silly, Jim. If there was one application called "iApp" that contained iPhoto, iTunes, iDVD, iMovie, and iWorks, then we'd have a real discussion (and Apple would really have some pissed off customers).

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    The Pro apps are largely single window fullscreen apps. Mail is single-window (didn't use to be, back in "the day" - I wish we had a Mailboxes window again).

    They perform one task, a narrow task. "Web development" isn't a task, it's five or six or seven tasks. I like using tools specifically geared towards that specific task. Aperture is a digital photo management and editing application. It has, I suppose you could say, two tasks: organizing and editing (if you don't think of organizing AS editing). But that's really about all it does.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    Again, I'm not advocating single window, rather making an observation that Apple's most successful applications take the same approach. Perhaps Panic noticed that pattern and tried to follow it?

    Apple didn't take the same approach, and I hope they never do. I never want to launch the "iLife.app" just to play some music with half the features my current player (iTunes) has. iTunes is just fine as a stand-alone app.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    For some people, having those tools in one window is going to be good…

    I've said that as well. I've been very clear in saying this workflow, this "all in one, jack of all trades/master of none" approach is not for me.

    Though I know Panic will sell plenty of copies - they could release a digitally simulated Dorito and they'd sell thousands of copies at $29.95 because they're cool - but I wonder seriously how useful Coda will be eventually. It doesn't appear to have a plugin architecture, and the instant someone finds a better tool than any of the five or six on offer within Coda, it puts a serious dent in Coda's appeal. For some, that first small dent may come from the Finder itself, which both lets you view files in different (potentially more convenient) ways and which also easily supports displaying multiple directories at the same time (each with their own view style if you like).

  8. Erik J. Barzeski said on April 24, 2007:

    No, it's not. But that's the point: if you're going to force me to work in an inefficient or inflexible (for me) way within a single window, you darn well better offer something my current setup doesn't have.

    I don't use "doesn't support WordPress theming" as an example of "one window is bad" - I use it as an example of "if you're going to force something bad on me, give me something good to compensate."

    Now I understand where you're coming from. We see Coda differently. You see it as trying to be the be-all-end-all web development IDE, I see it as "just a text editor" with a couple new tricks. Just because they sell it as this miracle workflow solution doesn't make it so - it's marketing hype.

    You don't like the single window style, and since it does nothing your existing tool chain offers, there's no point for you. I totally understand. I just see Coda as a text editor. Nothing more.

    So Coda's got built-in file transfer... so does BBEdit, so I don't see adding file transfer to a text editor as a big deal. And Coda has a built-in a terminal. Plenty of text editors offer shell access (Emacs/vi, BBEdit has Shell worksheets). Web Preview is offered by BBEdit and TextMate and SEE and likely others I haven't used.

    Other than that I don't see much special about it. A DOM inspector and visual CSS editing, that's icing on the cake.

    Since I saw it as a text editor my initial questions to you about supporting blogging templates might make more sense to you - I made the point other editors don't do it either, "so what's the problem"...

    It's a brand new app that wanted to release in time for the ADA, so the lack of a pluin-architecture is understandable. I'm sure Panic will get requests for the things their users want and they'll respond. I wouldn't be surprised if 1.1 or 1.5 or 2.0 had a multiple-window option, just like they ended up adding back to ProjectBuilder/Xcode.

  9. Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    So Coda's got built-in file transfer... so does BBEdit, so I don't see adding file transfer to a text editor as a big deal. And Coda has a built-in a terminal. Plenty of text editors offer shell access (Emacs/vi, BBEdit has Shell worksheets). Web Preview is offered by BBEdit and TextMate and SEE and likely others I haven't used.

    It should be noted I don't use BBEdit's built-in FTP (I have an AppleScript tied to a keyboard shortcut that saves and uploads), nor do I use many of the other features (shell worksheets, etc.). I use Safari or another browser, so I don't use BBEdit's web preview either.

    As a text editor, SEE is lacking and thus, I'm not sure how - if you see it as just a text editor - you don't find it lacking too. Can it do folder-wide regular expression searches on your filesystem like BBEdit? BBEdit, let's face it, has decades on the SEE engine in terms of text editing. Plus, it's scriptable!

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    Other than that I don't see much special about it. A DOM inspector and visual CSS editing, that's icing on the cake.

    Both of which either a plugin for Firefox or CSSEdit handle much better, IMHO.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    Since I saw it as a text editor my initial questions to you about supporting blogging templates might make more sense to you - I made the point other editors don't do it either, "so what's the problem"...

    I feel it's a poor text editor, too. See just above.

    Jim Roepcke said on April 24, 2007:

    I wouldn't be surprised if 1.1 or 1.5 or 2.0 had a multiple-window option, just like they ended up adding back to ProjectBuilder/Xcode.

    Perhaps. But since it'll still be stuck in "jack of all trades, master of none" it still likely won't suit me. As I've said, if you like it, my opinion shouldn't change yours one bit. I'm just using Coda as an excuse to further refine my UI and functionality sensibilities. :-)

  10. Erik J. Barzeski said on April 24, 2007:

    Can it do folder-wide regular expression searches on your filesystem like BBEdit?

    I think it's pretty questionable if that feature and in particular the UI BBEdit has for it is necessary in a text editor. They should include that as a separate tool or even offer it separately. IMHO the entire UI design of BBEdit is showing its age although it is slowly becoming a real OS X app. I have never missed such functionality in SEE. For a longtime user, BBEdit might have become second nature but I don't think it's very accessible to people who are not used to this environment.

    Erik J. Barzeski said on April 24, 2007:

    BBEdit, let's face it, has decades on the SEE engine in terms of text editing. Plus, it's scriptable!

    SEE is scriptable as well, and the collaboration features make it unique anyway.

    Erik J. Barzeski said on April 24, 2007:

    I'm just using Coda as an excuse to further refine my UI and functionality sensibilities. :-)

    I pretty much agree with you about Coda. This kind of integration does not make much sense to me either. I like the Mac for the variety of different little tools each of which fulfills one particular purpose. Thus, I am able to choose the apps I like best (such as my favorite text editor and ftp client).

  11. Ralph Scheuer said on April 24, 2007:

    I think it's pretty questionable if that feature and in particular the UI BBEdit has for it is necessary in a text editor.

    I use it almost every day. It's a great feature. :-)

  12. [...] approach to web development quickly divides folks into two camps: those that love it and those that [...]

  13. Coda looks very nice but I'm not going to get it either. The one-window novelty is lost on me as well, but I find that as a text editor it's not good enough. TextMate is a pleasure to use and by far my favorite text editor.

    Also, I do very little with PHP these days, and Coda doesn't do that well with Ruby on Rails. Not terrible, but not great either. Too bad. :(

  14. [...] to have, but I can tell why people rave about Coda. It is personally interesting for me to see why others choose not to use it as some of their thoughts mirror my [...]

  15. From a web design standpoint, I think Coda is the best application out there. I work mainly in HTML, CSS and Javascript and since starting to use this application in 2007, I haven't looked back. Prior to Coda I used Dreamweaver, which Panic has improved upon by leaps and bounds. While Coda packs a lot of features into this single-window UI, it's done with class and with attention to ease-of-use. I don't ever get the feeling that the application is too feature-rich and robust for its own good. I think its spot on, and I'd highly recommend it to any web designer.


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Please abide by the comment policy. Valid HTML includes: <blockquote><p>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, and <a href>. Please use the "Quote Me" functionality to quote comments.