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Coda by Panic

I’ve recently abandoned Dreamweaver as my primary web development platform. I know what you are thinking, “what took you so long?” Well, the truth of the matter is, I think Dreamweaver gets a bad wrap, just because of the WYSYWIG stigma. Frankly, I rarely if ever, was using the Design view in Dreamweaver and I mostly used it as a text based editor. I really love the shortcuts they’ve built in and found myself developing rather quickly because of them. So much so, that it has taken me quite some time, and quite a bit of trial and error, to actually end up leaving it behind.

There are several features that Dreamweaver has that I was always very particular about when looking for a new tool. Some of the requirements I have are:

  • Built in SFTP (many editors only have FTP, if anything at all)
  • Rich HTML, CSS, and Javascript support with good shortcuts and autocompletion. (Many, like Eclipse, are really good for back-end dev, but downright suck at front-end. I’m a front-end developer.)
  • Synchronization feature, or at least some way of tracking which local files are different than those on the server (surprisingly few editors have this as a feature).
  • Quick access to projects (The ability to save “Sites” and jump between them without ever using the “Open” dialog).
  • Subversion integration was a plus, but not a requirement.

Frankly, Eclipse is a huge, bloated piece of nightmare for installing and running. Slap Aptana on top of that and you’ve got yourself a mess. Granted, Dreamweaver is also bloated, but not nearly as bad. As mentioned above, I also feel that Eclipse is really great for back-end programmers, but falls short for front-end. Same feeling about Textmate. Only Textmate is missing even more of the features listed above. After giving these, and others a shot, I would always find myself switching right back to Dreamweaver just to get the job done in an efficient matter. There are other programs I gave a shot, but it just seemed like they were all doing some things really well, but others really bad.

Enter Coda.

I learned about Coda from another web developer/designer that I follow on Twitter, @cliftonite. Obviously, I was skeptical at first. But I decided to fire up the 14 day trial. If I was going to ask my employer to purchase a license for me, I was going to have to make a good case, so it had to be really convincing. So I started keeping a list of things I liked about it, and things I missed from Dreamweaver.

Within a week I was sold. Here’s the list I came up with:

Coda’s strengths over Dreamweaver

  • Remembers which files were open from site to site, even after closing the app
  • Remembers and displays which files have been edited and need to be published
  • Can publish each file with a single click
  • DW sync takes *forever* – the 2 points above are the better solution
  • Subversion integration
  • Terminal integration (very cool)
  • Much more robust CSS editor
  • Much faster startup time (not bloated)
  • Image Previews (!)
  • Show change marks
  • split file editing (edit more than one file at a time, or reference the one while working on the other.)
  • Awesome visual representation of my Sites.

Dreamweaver’s strengths over Coda

  • WSYWIG / Split screen editor
  • common task dialogues
  • Find/replace is cleaner
  • Better and more helpful predictive code hints

At first, I’ll admit, I was still running over to Dreamweaver to accomplish certain things that, at the time, I didn’t realize Coda could do—or more importantly, I didn’t realize there was a better way to do it. For example, I’ve since learned to love Coda’s Find/Replace, it’s just a whole different paradigm.

I’m sure there are other things to add to this list, but it’s the list I sent my employer. I think it’s pretty obvious I felt that Coda had many more strengths. I’ve been using Coda pretty heavily now for several months and haven’t opened Dreamweaver for a very long time.

In a nutshell, I LOVE CODA! It’s the editor I’ve been holding out for. If you are a Mac user, head over and give it a whirl.