Coda: first impressions

by Giles Turnbull

Panic Software’s new Coda app offers a new approach to web site development, claiming to offer everything you need in “one window”.



The very first thing that struck me about it was the eye candy. Create a new site, fill in some of the server details and click “Save”, and the sheet you were filling in doesn’t slide up like most sheets do; it elegantly swishes out of view, flipping itself over in the process. It’s the kind of thing we’ve got used to seeing in Dashboard widgets, not desktop apps.



The second thing I noticed was the toolbar is not a toolbar, it’s a means of switching between modes. In fact, it’s not even customizable in the standard way. There are no other toolbar buttons other than those used to switch from one mode to another, and the search box.



There are lots of controls everywhere else though. Above and below the edit window you’ll see various contextual buttons and twiddles that change as you move between modes.



The code editor at the heart of the app is SubEthaEdit, which means it has Bonjour network sharing built-in. There’s a neat toggle button for switching the sharing on and off.



I haven’t yet got my head around the handling of CSS. It’s possible to create a .css text file and edit it by hand; it’s also possible to use the CSS mode to access a GUI for creating CSS using good-old point-and-click. The hows and whys of which system to use, and when, escape me for now. But as the title of this post says, this is just about first impressions.



So far I’m enjoying it. The eye candy is attractive without being too intrusive; the system of “Sites” for managing projects is nicely done, and the inclusion of entire HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP reference books is an innovative and smart idea.



UPDATE:Steven Frank's overview adds more context and is well worth reading before you dive into Coda.


5 Comments

bobby
2007-04-23 15:10:36
It looks intriguing, but it's not for me. I have too much invested in apps such as TextMate (or BBEdit), Interarchy, CSSEdit, CocoaMySQL, Terminal, etc.


I wish it would somehow allow a user to swap out a function based upon other apps that may work better with said user's preferences. I know, not really possible.


I'm still evaluating it because it's from Panic. But, I've chosen dedicated apps for a reason. I feel that it'll be hard for a part of Coda to compete with a dedicated app for a specific function.


Not saying it's a bad solution... just not my preferred solution.

KiL
2007-04-24 01:02:30
@ bobby


I wish it would somehow allow a user to swap out a function based upon other apps that may work better with said user's preferences. I know, not really possible.


Used to be possible with OpenDoc. Waaay ahead of its time and now it's gone...

marcello
2007-04-24 01:24:42
uhmmm, if the first thing one notices about a new addition to a market area where there's only one real player (dreamweaver) is the fact that a sheet "swishes" instead of "sliding" i guess it's not a really good sign.


ok, it's "first impressions" but, well, the CSS handling looks confusing and the reference inclusion isn't that innovative, dreamweaver done that like 3 years ago.


i'm not too impressed.


M

Andy
2007-04-24 01:42:00
...you mean like clicking on the file, and choosing "Edit in " ? It's there, works as advertised. Hard to see what else they could do really.
Kevin
2007-04-24 11:25:50
How does this compare to Dreamweaver? Does it have site-management features, templates, etc? DW (even the old version I use) has code editing, uploading, CSS editing, and so on--about the only thing it lacks is the Cocoa UI sugar (which isn't a critical loss for me).