Do Panic

As I mentioned in my Switching to Mac post a few days ago, I recently made the jump from PC to Mac, something I should have done years ago.
One of the reasons (other than budget) that I hadn’t done this sooner was my worry about having to learn a new work-flow.  I have been programming for nearly 10 years now and, as you know, hard habits are hard to break.  Clearly changing operating system would mean that I would have to re-learn how to do a lot of things.

One of my main worries was what I was going to edit with.  I have been using Homesite for the best part of the las 8 years (having broken away from dreamweaver as soon as I “saw the light”) and over that time I have become used to the way it works.

Moving to Mac meant no Homesite (I wonder why a Mac version was never released?)
So, one of my first tasks was to find an alternative for the Mac.  Over the first 2 weeks I probably tried out 8-10 different editors including TextMate, bbedit, textwrangler, expresso, netbeans and others which I can now no longer remember.  However only one seemed to fit my needs – Panic‘s Coda.
What I was looking for was something simple (or at least I thought so) with these basic features:

* A text editor that allowed me to edit files “live” ie. with built-in ftp.
* Files opening in tabs
* Ability to save snippets (ie. the little bits of code that I use all the time)

Things I was not interested in having or doing:

* Fancy css tools
* Setting up Projects
* Having to install endless bundles to get things working
* Opening loads of windows to be able to work

Whilst there where others such as bbedit that fitted my needs, they where overly bloated for my likes. Then there is Textmate which is probably the most popular editor for mac at the moment but that one failed on my 2 most important dislikes: no ftp and no tabs for files.
Yes, I know that this can be overcome by installing bundles and setting up projects, and I even went through the whole process but everytime I came accross another problem (never found a decent solution to the ftp requirement) I found myself going back to use Coda – I did actually have to get some work done whilst testing all these tools out 😉

Panic's Coda

Panic's Coda

What finally did it for me was Panic’s sale that they held a few weeks back.  For a few days they had a 50% off offer on Coda and that was the final push I needed to make my decision.

Coda is great because it just works (which is what I like best about the Mac itself) and it does so nicely.

What I like about Coda:

* Sites: It has a great administrator that even shows you thumbnail images of the sites that you have set up.  Pretty pointless and possibly annoying if you have many sites, but a nice feature anyway.
* Editor: pretty much does what you would expect such as syntax coloring for most the common languages (php, asp, html, javascript. etc) and auto-completion for html tags etc.
* Clips: (snippets) Comes with a few predefined ones but it is easy to add your own and assign them keyboard shortcuts.  Also a great little feature is that you can define snippets as “global” that are available for all sites or “site” which are specific to the site you are editing – perfect for site specific functions or classes.
* Pane split: very useful, allows you to split the pane so as to be able to work on 2 (or more) different parts of the same document at the same time – great for long documents.  Alternatively you can load a preview or an external URL in one of the panes which can be reloaded automatically when you save your code edits.  A final use (at least as far as I can tell) is that you can drag a different file into a pane so as to be able to edit that one as well.
I often use a 3-pane setup with the php in one pane, the css in another and then finally the preview in a 3rd pane so I can see my changes in an instant – this has really sped up work-flow!
* Hints : I mostly code in php and the hints show you exactly what is required or optional for each php function as you type it – saves popping over to php.net all the time (or using the built in “books” option).

Coda has other useful features that I have yet to try including SVN, a built-in Terminal (used it once and it worked perfectly),code navigator, spellcheck and many others.
It also allows you to create and install plug-ins so, if you really have to, you can extend it.
I suppose I should point out one downside – the search and search & replace functions are somewhat lacking (ie pretty poor). It does appear, however, to be one of the matters that the developers are addressing so fingers crossed for the next version 😉

At the end of the day it is very much a matter of each to their own, every developer has their own needs. Hopefully my findings might help somebody else decide 😉

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chris@cbolson.com

There are 2 comments in this article:

  1. 14/07/2009News Do Panic | Web 2.0 Designer says:

    […] Continue reading here: Do Panic […]

  2. 15/07/2009Do Panic | Adobe Tutorials says:

    […] As I mentioned in my Switching to Mac post a few days ago, I recently made the jump from PC to Mac, something I should have done years ago. Original post: Do Panic […]

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