Initial Coda 2 Review

This is for Panic’s Coda, V2.0. I originally left this same review in the app store, but it seems to appear and disappear, so here it is.

Update: some of the things I gripe about can be resolved now that the plugin page is up and working: http://www.panic.com/coda/plugins.php

And for php validation: http://www.chipwreck.de/blog/software/coda-php/

Disclaimer: I’m a TextMate user, yet I’ve always liked the Coda philosophy of a single app to do mutliple things and I think Panic is really onto something here. I never liked version 1, but this is getting there.

I’ve spent a lot of today just using V2, the interface took me some getting used to, but I feel pretty good with it now. The documentation is lacking, complete with links to dead support pages on their website. I would like to see more keyboard shortcuts as I’m not much of a mouse guy, but they either aren’t there or I don’t know what they are (some are shown in the menu system, but there must be more).

I had high hopes for the code completion, espeically in PHP, which I do most of my work in. It’ll help you find the function, but then it won’t fill in the function’s signature for you. Oh, but wait! There’s a hints panel. If you have that open, you can at least see a little info and what the signature should be. But wait again, not all php functions are in there, including some basic loops like foreach and while. How can you not have those? So unless there’s some magic plugin to do this, you’re left creating a bunch of custom clips on your own to fill in the blanks. Waste time to save time I guess.

It’s crashed a number of times on my 1 year old, 8 gig RAM iMac during normal use, no rhyme or reason yet. Then for kicks I opened a 31mb sql file to try and do some find/replace on it. It crashed the first time soon after opening it, but then survived the second tiime. TextMate doesn’t even hiccup on this stuff, and even adds in syntax highlighting, which Coda turns off on large files (or at leat “doesn’t recommend”).

Source control is promising if a bit slow. The ftp publisher feature is pretty killer – very nice how it keeps track of what’s changed and offers to ftp it for you with the click of a button – you can even uncheck the files you don’t want uploaded (must have a local site defined, fyi). This can be a huge time saver and a great feature for some basic deployment.

The database interface is very basic, nothing to actually help you build a query, but I bet it will prove handy.

You can block edit a group of lines, but unlike TextMate, you can’t wrap each line in a selection (like select multiple lines and wrap each in an <li> tag, it’s not smart enough to know where the end of each line is). Coda 2 does have some other text manipulation similar to TextMate, but it’s not there yet. And if you’re used to TMs hyperlink helper, you’ll be disappointed in Coda’s counterpart. There’s enough to get the job done though, and maybe I’ll have some happy dicoveries as I use it and future versions are released. Until then this won’t be my full time editor. I also wonder how much I might be missing because of the poor documentation and lack of training resources that 1.0 had, but are no longer there. Another reason this feels a bit rushed.

Overall, I’m glad I plopped down the $50 on opening day. There’s a lot of promise here and I want to support Panic’s efforts to put together a truly great editor, I’d just like to see more functionality, documentation, and things that “power users” hanker for (true code hinting/completion, more keyboard shortcuts, better text manipulating, etc.). If I’d paid full price I might be a bit grumpy. Hope that helps some – cheers!

5 thoughts on “Initial Coda 2 Review

  1. To be honest, I’m really dissapointed in Coda 2 and Panic. They made a lot of promises, and took a long time to deliver Coda 2. And what did we get?

    To be honest, as a PHP developer that constatly uses 2-3 frameworks based on MVC, I got nothing. I lost 49$. It’s 2012 and Coda still doesnt have autocomplete, but not only that, it doesn’t have some basic php default functions (?!).

    Insted what did we get? New GUI that isn’t any better than the old one, at least not for me. We got app that is actually alpha version, that crashes constatly, no LESS support, lousy MySql editor.

    We got nothing. I’ve switched to Komodo IDE a couple of years ago. Great editor. I’m giving Panic 3 months time to get things right. After all, I’ve been waiting for so long for Coda 2 and because of that I really don’t want to wait any longer. But just because I really loved coda1 and it’s gui, I’m giving them a last chance.

    But to be honest, Panic probably doesn’t give a damn about me, so all these nice wishes about Coda2 probably won’t be delivered. There are a lots of text editors and IDE tools for mac that are awesome and at least a decade in front of Coda 2. Some of them are free. So at least we have a choice.

  2. The code indenting is also pretty dumb compared to other editors. I just tried writing some jQuery and I don’t get the nice auto-formatting of indents, new lines, and auto-adding semi-colons that TM gives. *sigh*

  3. I bought it too on the first day. Also for me, the dumb or lack-there-of of code completion in PHP is the big deal breaker. Don’t mind not having a full sql manager in there. But it’s handy if you want to quickly do some simple things.

    I do find the Panic description on their website, especially regarding their autocompletion, deceitful.

  4. @tommy Agreed, the PHP autocompletion was not what I was expecting either.

    But, I really like coda 2 for it’s improvements in snippets with placeholders, project view as list, draggable folder onto dock icons to quickly review or modify files without creating a project. There is quite a bit of things if you dig around, but still larger issues are lacking as others have mentioned.

    Also, showing invisible characters which seems so basic, but actually prevented me from switching to Espresso at one point. Invisibles can be cleaned up via text->processing->strip trailing whitespace and convert spaces to tabs. As you may know Apple’s Preferences->Keyboard allows assignment of shortcuts.

    It’s FTP, project management and the way it feels are what keep me sticking with Coda. And I like supporting smaller development companies who are passionate about what they create!

    I use it with CodeKit for Less compiling and browser refreshing and it is a decent workflow.

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