Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

25 May 2007

Coda, a few weeks later.

Coda icon

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Coda lately. Coda is Panic’s new all-in-one application for building and editing websites.

Web designers are pretty picky about their tools. When Coda came out, lots of people were critical because it didn’t have some of the features on which many of us depend daily. I absolutely understand that. Nobody wants to use a tool that is going to make you less efficient. CSSEdit, for instance, is hands-down the best CSS Editor on the market. And Textmate is a really powerful text editor with lots of bundles that save people tons of time and makes us all better programmers. It’s like the Photoshop of text editors.

But sometimes you don’t need Photoshop. Coda’s power lies in its apparent simplicity. Because Coda is an all-in-one application, I never have to switch applications when moving from editing an XHTML file, to tweaking a CSS file, previewing in the browser and then uploading said files. There’s zero mental overhead. You never leave the single Coda window.

Of course you can pull out the big guns if you want. Right click on any file in the file browser and choose “Open in Textmate” or CSSEdit or even open image files in Photoshop. Whatever you want. Handy. Coda is what brings it all together, taking a lot of the busy work out of web design.

Power Using With Coda

Lest you think Coda is actually just a simple application, I’ve been using Coda to some pretty powerful ends building a site with Expression Engine just this past week. Expression Engine gets a little flack about it’s template engine being entirely browser-based, but that is, in fact, not true. You can save any template as a file, which means Coda can get to it easily. It’s true! And then I found that awesome .htaccess trick that Derek mentioned on the Expression Engine blog. Using this, you can enjoy Coda’s live preview functionality when editing any template.

Nuggets of Joy

Sure, I could write more. There are plenty of fun and handy features I didn’t mention. And I’m sure there are a few things I haven’t discovered yet. That’s the mark of a well-designed application: It lets you get to work quickly without having to learn much, and then it slowly reveals itself to you over time, letting you discover features as you need them.

I fully understand that what Coda is doing isn’t new. Many of these features have shown up in applications in the past, but at no time have we seen it so elegantly done without all the junk clogging things up.