I’ve worked around and managed coders for 20 years. The tools they use are more varied than religions, and adherents are just as vocal, almost fanatic, about which is the best editor and why.
The problem I have, and I suspect is similar to many Mac users who dabble in producing web sites, is that coding is not a full time job, not 10 to 12 hours a day. So, proficiency suffers. I look for tools that make my work easier and avoid the religious hoopla.
In a word, one window. Alright, so that’s two words but the single window environment is so worthy as to make it easy to overlook the count. In fact, even the single window is made of multiple panes.
Coda lets me open HTML code in a window pane, open the CSS file in a separate pane within the same Coda window, and then tops it off with a built-in, live preview of the web page.
There was a time when I would bounce back and forth between four or five different utilities just to see what my changed code would look like, and what affect it had elsewhere on the site or page.
For the non-casual, non-professional coder, Coda brings together a bunch of basic utilities, which together are actually better than the parts. For example, CSSEdit is a better CSS editor than Coda. BBEdit has more features than Coda.
But nobody has that triple-paned single window where the basics come together.
Every Mac editor worth a few grains of salt has plenty of features these days, including built-in web site preview. Coda lets you manage files, find and replace text across multiple files, manage folders, and even work remotely via FTP or SFTP.
Not to be overlooked is the spell checker which checks spelling not code. Plugins are more for the geeky crowd but I found a few that are handy.
Coda starts with a sites metaphor, which is not the way I work, since I’m deep into content management systems such as WordPress and ExpressionEngine. Transmit is not my favorite FTP utility (made by the same folks who make Coda), but I use it regularly. Think of Coda as coming with a built-in Transmit. It even uses the same shortcuts.
Tabs? Did I forget tabs? As much as the multi-pane window is handy it’s actually guided by tabs at the top, and if you love getting lost in tab heaven, Coda lets you run free. Multiple connections, multiple servers, multiple files, multiple panes in one window with all the tabs you can eat.
If you’re really geeky and must have access to the command line, Terminal is built in, as is the Web Programmer’s Desk Reference, which is searchable. Cool.
Coders who code 24/7 may have different tools that would only be pulled out from under their cold stiff fingers a week after dying, but for the rest of us, Coda is a sweet surprise. Now, if we could just get Coda’s CSS component to play as nice-nice as CSSEdit.