General Question

makemo's avatar

Web Development: Coda vs. TextMate / CSS Edit combo?

Asked by makemo (531points) April 27th, 2008

Which one do you go for?

Coda, as a one-stop solution for all things web development.


TextMate + CSS Edit, as the one golden combination.

No “both” answers allowed*. I want a clear opinion. (* IF you say both, please elaborate about your reasons for choosing both, and provide some info on your specific workflow in such case.)

Topic rules:

- The question relates to heavy duty, prime time work. I’m interested to know what option you find durable and trustworthy enough to put to good use on a daily/regular basis.
– I’m only interested in these particular applications.

Extraneous babble (no need to read):

- Yes, this topic has probably been discussed all over the web, but I find Fluther to be the perfect arena for a one on one clash between these two (well, three) heavyweights anyway.
– Personally, I own all 3 of these apps, but I can’t just seem to make up my mind about the tools to prefer. Or rather, I might say, I’m afraid I still prefer my old, tried and tested TM+CSS Edit combo, mainly because of the pressing issue of Coda being so slow in refreshing its CSS previews, whereas CSS Edit is just blazing fast… something that’s crucial to me, and also an ability that I was expecting a more expensive application such as Coda to facilitate.
– I really, really, want to like Coda, and I’m curious to know if there’s some hidden aspect, some hidden power, that I’m simply missing out on.

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27 Answers

Breefield's avatar

I prefer Coda and CSS edit 2. Coda simply appeals to my taste more than Textmate. Coda has built in documentation which I use regularly. But many of it’s options, such as bonjour editing where two people can edit a file at one is really amazing. I have never really used Textmate extensively, but the time I did spend using it weren’t nearly as appealing as using Coda has been.
As far as CSS Edit 2, I don’t think it really has a contender. It’s quite nice.

paulc's avatar

I suppose I’m not really qualified to answer since I’ve never actually used Coda for more than 10 minutes so take from this what you will. What I can say is that TextMate is well suited to “heavy duty, prime time work”. I probably can’t calculate how much time I’ve saved by making scripts and snippets that fit my workflow but suffice to say its a large number of hours by now. That’s where TextMate shines: configurability. Our CSS guys where I work swear by CSS Edit and, from what I’ve used of it, I tend to agree. I also like to have separate applications for separate parts of my workflow. That way I’m never really tied to one software package and can swap-out that part of the flow out for something else down the line.

So obviously, I’m voting TextMate + CSS Edit.

Breefield's avatar

Oh, and every coder needs textexpander.

makemo's avatar

Here’s my pros and cons list so far.

Coda – CONS:

- (item A) Doesn’t open the previously opened site project once quit and restarted again. Major Boo!
– (item B) Super slow preview refresh of CSS edits… (I mean, dead slow… they really got to do something about that.)
– (item C) No scroll-wheel support for “scrolling” values in CSS editing mode, like in CSS Edit (Major slow-downer).
– (item D) If you have 3 or more split panes open, there is seemingly no way to change view mode in the middle one(s). Kind of odd.
– (item E) Seemingly no automatic uploading of newly created folders. Although I suspect there’s some logic to that, I think it should be an option whether it behaves like this, or, alternatively having it upload whatever new folders you have created, which are not on the server.
– (item F) Using Command-W to close open files, will close the whole main window if you’re too fast. On one hand, that stays perfectly true to current HID rules, but it’s nevertheless very unpractical, since you don’t wanna close the dang main window, if you’re not about to close the whole program alltogether, right? Sure, you can have multiple windows open, but who does that? It kind of defeats the whole “One Window Editing” concept in Coda.
– (item G) There are numerous other glitches that I, being a nitpicking hard-to-please bastard can’t accept.

Coda – PROS

- The one window editing plus built in FTP really were the two main tipping point that led to me buying it. Those are great feats.
– The whole aura and idea of Coda really shines and still feels mighty fresh. Alveit, as stated in my cons section, they really need to improve this app. Right now I think it feels a bit overrated, really.

TextMate coupled with CSS Edit – CONS

- (item A) Well, perhaps a little bit fiddly with two apps open for editing just about the same thing; if, by same thing I mean ‘a webpage’ as such.
– (item B) TextMate’s web preview really sucks. Wishing it could tap into the localhost and MAMP’ing stuff. (Although, this seems to be the case with Coda as well, no?)
– (item C) I find CSS Edit to be a little bit confusing as to whether I’m actually editing this very stylesheet or not… often times finding myself overriding and re-overriding, still, once again re-re-re-overriding and so on. Never really got perfect hang of it. (Might just be me.)
– (item D) The need for a 3rd file transfer application. But this poses no big caveat, since there are nowadays a great variety of such applications at your disposal, free or not.

TextMate CSS Edit marriage – PROS

- The feel… albeit two different apps, can be quite empowering.
– Customization possibilities are nearly endless. But that CAN pose a real disaster threat, as well. Mainly referring to the time I sometimes waste on fiddling with my custom syntax-highlighting in TextMate and whatnot.
– The sheer speed of CSS Edit’s screen updates… THAT is the role model for each and any other WYSIWYG CSS editors out there, especially Coda’s. Does anyone chime in here? I mean, for me, that was the number one hurting aspect for me, once I had bought Coda. :( And using CSS Edit and Coda together? No way. Either Coda will suffice alone, as the “One Window Editing” app it claims to be, or no Coda for me. That’s how I feel right now.

GeauxTigers's avatar

Can I pick option “none of the above”?

Smultron + Transmit + Development server.

makemo's avatar

1 up for the Coda – PROS section:

- I should say, I forgot to say I’m very impressed with Coda’s built-in validation/debugging facilities. Very nifty heads up notifications of simple errors makes it gain impression points on me.

richardhenry's avatar

I’m a Coda and CSSEdit 2. I love the live preview in CSSEdit, and it’s the only thing I feel Coda is lacking. I actually changed the settings in Coda to automatically open CSSEdit for CSS files, and removed the CSS tab from the tab bar.

When the give CSS editing a bit more attention, then I’ll give it another try. Live previewing is the number one requirement for me – I can’t remember how I survived before it.

richardhenry's avatar

I was asked by private PM how to remove the icon from the toolbar, thought I’d throw the answer I gave out here for anyone else interested:

“Hold down the command key (Apple key) and drag the button off the toolbar. You can put it back by right-clicking and choosing ‘customise toolbar’.”

cmmicek's avatar

I love both and I think they excel in their own areas..of you’re like me, and your php/mysql isn’t parsing (and don’t want to install OSX over again..Coda is AMAZING for editing and uploading directly from the server. Im the type of prson that likes to test live sometimes anyways. Coda is epic. However instead of TextEdit I use Textmate.

cmmicek's avatar

Richard brings up a good point. Live preview would be nice…

makemo's avatar

Granted, the licensed collaboration mode in Coda (courtesy of the SubEtha engine) is wicked nice.

But what’s really needed, if their ambition is to accomodate the “one window wonder” hype surrounding Coda, is a CSS editor worth using. I’m willing to bet on the fact that almost every efficiency afficionado uses CSS Edit in conjunction with Coda. Which leads me to the wishful thinking that they instead had licensed the “engine” behind CSS Edit, if ever possible.

That said, It’s been a couple of weeks since my purchase of Coda, and it’s slowly starting to (kind of) gain ground with me. At least enough to have me using it as my main tool for web work.

Negativity warning ahead. (Don’t take it too seriously.)

Some things, though, tells me that this is a slightly overhyped application. First off, that insanely buzzed-about story of “the 3 pixel conundrum” regarding its toolbar cosmetics, is plain ridiculous. Why worry about such petty details when there are more important problems to solve? And why did people find that story intriguing or even interesting? I couldn’t care less of a small glitch in the toolbar right now.

Another questionable thing, is the rate at which the app is being updated. 30th November 2007? As of this writing, that’s a 159 days ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re currently putting their efforts in how to expand the SubEtha engine with the new ‘friend casting’ ability, to match its big brother counterpart, SubEthaEdit (v.3.1).

Ok, enough of the rant. I hope they manage to put their focus on usability rather than “lookability”. It’s just that, CSS is such an important thing nowadays, probably representing half the meaning of web development, so, if you don’t ge that thing right in your authoring tool, nothing else is going to matter.

damien's avatar

I’m a big fan of the textmate/css edit combo. I love the idea of coda and have tried it a couple of times and really wish it worked the way I’d like it to (more textmatey) but can never last more than half an hour in it before wanting to cry ;)

makemo's avatar

After doing Coda ever since I started this Question, the number one thing that holds me back to the Coda + CSS Edit combo, rather than the TextMate + CSS Edit one, is the quick way you can FTP the code to a server.

That’s the main thing with Coda for me, right now.

If Macromates TextMate incorporates a simple funciton to upload things via (S)FTP/SSH, that’ll be the killing blow.

richardhenry's avatar

I currently use CSSEdit alongside Coda. If they collaborated, I think I would literally cry with joy.

Tone's avatar

I use TextMate only. Never found the need for a dedicated CSS editor, they always seem way over-complicated for such a simple language. The inspectors and all that are nice, but that’s what Firebug is for.

NecrisRex's avatar

Textmate + MacFuse + MacFusion. The only solution I need. CSS Edit would be my CSS Editor of choice if I didn’t usually wind up just using tables ;) But MacFuse/MacFusion allows you to mount FTP or SFTP (ssh) to your FINDER. And then remote editing in TextMate is LOCAL editting. Amazing.

bluedoggiant's avatar

Textmate has never appealed to me. I guess because I use leopard, the interface really clashes with it… Coda and CSSEdit are both good, and I have CSSEdit.

Cyberduck is a good FTP application.

makemo's avatar

When developing for web frontends, I can’t imagine anything more efficient than CSS Edit, because of the instant, visual updates of changes. I still love being able to activate a value field and then just roll my mouse wheel up and down, to see the corresponding element scroll (smoothly scroll!) on the webpage… That is magic, and never seen in any other CSS WYSIWYG editor as far as I know.

iconz113's avatar

Textmate + transmit+ cssedit is the way to go, Having 3 applications that excel in their function and are the best in their field is better then having 1 application that combines these functions but is mediocre in each of the aspects. Coda can do all these things but its css editing isn’t as good as CSSedit, and its text editing isn’t as good as textmates. This is a fact. Id rather have the best tools for the job then downgrading so I can just use one application. Textmate has the largest developer community, constantly working to improve functionality and create new functionality. Looking for the applications that allow you to do the most in the most efficient way possible will lead you to this combination of apps.

ninthart's avatar

This is a great question. Personally I use Coda + CSSEdit + Textmate + Espresso, the new all-in-one program from the creator of CSSEdit. I know that’s not that helpful in answering your question, but I thought I’d throw Espresso in there. It’s very early days for Espresso, but if it progresses the way it should, it’ll be the answer to your question in due course…

sabbatical's avatar

I’m debating this right now, between Coda/CSSedit, and Expandrive/Textmate/CSSedit (just editing straight off the server as if its a Mac hard drive).

I’m more familiar with Coda, but it does seem laggy and overendowed, whereas Textmate just screams through whatever I’m doing. Site management and built in SVN and docu with Coda is kinda nice, but its all trimmings at the expense of the core, it seems.

But then with Textmate is development of it seems dead in the water, whereas Coda is moving forward at a good speed. Makes me nervous, pinning my futures to what may soon become a defunct piece of software.

Espresso isn’t ready for real world usage from what I’ve seen.

makemo's avatar

Yes, I’m also very keen to know what’s going to happen with TextMate in the future… It certainly has been a good while since last update. Does anyone know anything about rumored TextMate 2?

bluedoggiant's avatar

I have made my decision to go with Espresso, the makers of CSSEdit ( the app is still in beta, but its on a great track is amazing, im sure MacRabbit will make Espresso work with CSSEdit in the future, Its definitely a good alternative to Coda.

As I have said before, TextMate’s interface is not up to “leopards standards” making it not a choice for me

makemo's avatar

I wouldn’t say that TextMate is falling behind on “Leopard standards”, but it does lack in two major feature departments for me:

1. Easy and robust file transfering
2. Better built-in local web preview (with PHP-rendered (or any other serverside language) output, and (I wish) perhaps a JavaScript console would be nice)

bluedoggiant's avatar

I just found a new application that is EXTREMELY NEAT its like NVu, only polished and built with Cocoa. I have been looking for an app like this and apparently, its not very popular and an unknown app, I’ve been trying for the past 2 days to get it known out in the world (lol), point is, this app is a MUST check out:

jpietrangelo's avatar

I’m in the Coda camp. While I would like the editor to be a bit more robust, I just can’t seem to get away from this incredible program. Lots of folks seem to feel that the CSS editor within coda should be more like CSSEdit, but for the life of me I’ve never really used it. I just write my CSS files straight— the CSS editors… ALL of them… tend to distract.

I do a lot of subcontract work, so I’m always bouncing in and out of strange servers and working directly on them rather than on local files. I know that lots of programs let you work on the server, but there’s just something about Coda’s interface that feels ‘right’—feels secure.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot with PHP and MySQL, so I thought that perhaps I need something more powerful than Coda. I’ve been playing a bit with Aptana Studio which is based on Eclipse. It’s nice, but it’s Java and I really just don’t like the way it feels. Great debugger though… sure wish Coda had something like that. I also own Dreamweaver CS3, but can’t stand that bloated beast. Many others like it, I suppose. To each his (or her) own.

Coda is not… repeat NOT… the best at any one of its built-in applications. However, as someone who’s used Coda from the first day it was released, I feel it’s the combination of those built-in apps—the way they interact—the way you find yourself thinking about your work and not the app in which your working —that makes Coda my pick for creating the day to day magic that we each create.

makemo's avatar

TextMate 2….. oh how I wish you were here.

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