April 23, 2007. That was the day Panic initially released Coda. The idea of Coda was revolutionary: one app, one window for the entire web development workflow. And they did it right too. They won the 2007 Apple Design Award for Best User Experience. Before Coda there were tools like TextMate, BBEdit and MacRabbit’s Espresso and CSS Edit. Yes, there was even Dreamweaver if you like spending a lot of money on a tool largely considered inferior (it does have its place). But Coda was truly a revolutionary new web development experience.
Before Coda, developing websites required a number of different tools. You need a text editor for writing code. You need an FTP application for uploading and downloading files from your server. You need a web browser to preview your work. You often need a database utility to modify your database. And you would often need a terminal application to connect to your server over SSH and make changes. Coda rolled most of the tools needed for these things into a single interface and application.
And now Coda 2 builds upon that success.
I’m a fairly recent Mac switcher and, as a web developer, I started wondering which coding environment I would choose. I spotted two main apps that seemed to stand out from the crowd: Coda and Espresso. Although we’ve covered Espresso in the past, I thought it was worth taking another look at this fantastic web development app today.
When Espresso was reviewed here for the first time, it was still in beta. Though we could see what the app would look like and some of the features it would include, the app wasn’t complete. Since Espresso came out of beta, lots of things have been added to the product. Features such as a project manager and better publishing options have really helped Espresso become an all-round better candidate.
Espresso has some superb features, but also a few aspects that could be improved. And how does it stand up to Panic’s Coda? In today’s review, we’ll put Espresso through its paces.
Web design, traditionally, is a task which requires many different applications. You’ll need some sort of text editor, an FTP client, software for navigating documents (generally Finder), a web browser for previewing your site and often another tool for storing code snippets. This has worked well for several years, and any attempt to re-invent such a traditional workflow is commendably risky.
Coda came on the scene just under two years ago as a piece of software capable of integrating each of these different tools into one monolithic application. It received a great deal of acclaim and has come a long way since its conception. This review is far from an “exclusive” – Coda has been covered many times elsewhere over the past few years – but it will go some way towards outlining the features which make it stand out from using several independent applications. I’ll explain the main workflow process, and give my opinion on what works brilliantly and what I miss from dedicated tools.