Amber Weinberg: Freelance Web Developer specializing in semantic WordPress, Mobile, CSS and HTML5 Development

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Thoughts on Using Coda For Development

Posted on 01/28/10 in blog, development about , , , ,

I’ve been trying to get away from using Dreamweaver as my development software for several reasons. Mainly because the software is bloated, slow and expensive. Partly because there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the program, and people tend to automatically think you use the design view, or WYSIWYG part of Dreamweaver and that’s bad for someone who advertises hand-written clean coding. Another reason is that I am personally angry at Adobe’s lack of caring about their customers – especially after the Snow Leopard fiasco.

The problem with leaving Dreamweaver is that it does everything I want it to. It’s an all-in-one program with FTP, file management, code hints, auto closures and it works with every programming language out there. If only Adobe had stopped right there, it would have been the perfect development software.

So with this in mind, I don’t want to have to use 3 programs to replace Dreamweaver. so I had to find another all-in-one that was affordable (and hopefully free to upgrade, unlike Dreamweaver) and as powerful. People kept recommending Coda.

First Thoughts

Installation was easy enough, and they offer a free 2 week trial so I was on board. The interface is appealing and keeping in line with Mac’s expected design. However this is a HUGE change for me. When you’re using something like Dreamweaver for 5+ years and never anything else (besides a blank text program in middle school days) it’s tough getting used to something new. However, it seemed pretty easy to poke around and figure things out (which is good because sadly, they don’t have much documentation or any help forums).

The Pros

  • Only $99
  • Seems faster than Dreamweaver
  • Hasn’t crashed…yet
  • Not really any bloated features I don’t need
  • Has plugins, but I don’t think they’re available for trials users…so hopefully this is a pro πŸ™‚
  • All-in-one with FTP
  • The new version has upgraded their search to work as well as DW’s
  • Includes some searchable coding books for reference
  • Can save snippets of code for quick use

The Cons

  • Can’t detach the FTP window from the code window (I’m running dual screens)
  • Can’t view the local and remote files at the same time.
  • No save all button
  • No close all tabs button
  • No option to close tags automatically when typing </

The Getting-Used Tos

  • The new code colors threw me off for a bit – I know you can change these, but they don’t have the same settings as DW, so the colors still end up differently.
  • I have to get used to the new FTP, not using drag and drop for uploads BUT they have a cool button for publishing every doc you’ve changed and saved
  • If I upload without saving, it uploads the old file and doesn’t ask to save and upload the new file

Worth Purchasing?

I removed DW from my dock and have been trying to use Coda like it’s my regular coding program. At first, I didn’t like the cons and getting-used tos part of the program, but it’s slowly growing on me. I think by the time my trial runs out I’ll purchase it, and say goodbye to Adobe. Now if there was only a good replacement for Photoshop…

Your Thoughts

Have you used Coda before? What did you think of it? Is there another all-in-one program that’s better?

*UPDATE: Coda just upload an entire installation of WP in less than 15 minutes – versus 30+ minutes with Dreamweaver’s FTP…this is gold πŸ˜‰

Amber Weinberg specializes in clean and semantic HTML5, CSS3, responsive and WordPress development. She has over 15 years of coding experience and is super cool to work with. Amber is available for freelance work, so why not hire her for your next project?

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  • I am a Windows guy and am only using PSPad for coding, Firebug for live testing, the Webdevolper Toolbar and of course Photoshop. That’s all I need.

  • Congrats on switching to Coda. I’ve been using it for years, and it really is a great little app. You’ll find all sorts of little gems as you continue using it.

  • Yea, now I only use CODA, Photoshop and Chrome’s web developer toolbar πŸ™‚

  • Really? What kinda gems?

  • I also did use Dreamweaver but I only used the coding editor (at work) so I think that I really don’t need such a big programm like Dreamweaver that’s why I was searching for a nice editor and voila there was PSPad the best editor I think. With the powerfull Add-ons for Forefox you really don’t need expensive software like Dreamweaver. But I would like to try Coda but there isn’t a windows version.

  • Hi Amber,

    Thanks for writing this article. I’ve used Dreamweaver daily since 1998 as my primary code editor. (Crazy, I know.) While I own TextMate and code 99% of the time by hand, I stick with Dreamweaver for the integrated FTP and a few extras I use frequently (i.e. – code folding, image map drawing, Design View for quick HTML content formatting, etc.). Dreamweaver minuses are all of the things you and others have identified — slow interface and FTP performance, unreasonable upgrade prices, and terrible support from Adobe to name a few.

    I read “Dreamweaver versus X” articles and blog posts several times a year, usually when I’m super frustrated with Dreamweaver shortcomings. I even downloaded the Coda trial early last year but never made the switch, yet it seems most everyone who switches from Dreamweaver to Coda is happy and has no interest in switching back.

    Given the above, I think I’m ready to make the switch. The only real issue is my company maintains a number of legacy static sites based on Adobe Contribute and rely on Dreamweaver templates and the Dreamweaver/Contribute “check-in/checkout” file locking and versioning system. (Of course we prefer to use server-side includes and WordPress is our goto CMS at this point but Adobe Contribute was a good all-around CMS solution for static HTML sites in the past and the sites need to be maintained.) Because of Adobe’s unique FTP file locking system, it seems these sites will always have to be maintained via Dreamweaver FTP — at least I have not been able to find any information online on how to use Coda or Transmit with Dreamweaver/Contribute based sites. Wondering if anyone has experience with this?

    It looks like Coda has built in support for SVN. Wondering if you have tried the version control features and what you think? On this note, Git seems to be the latest source control tool of choice but so far there appears to be no support from Panic.

    Finally, wondering if Coda has support for development and production server environments (i.e. – ability to work with and move project files across multiple servers)?

    Thanks for any advice or support you and others can offer.


  • I still keep a copy in case I come across one of those (rare thankfully) Adobe templated sites. I’ve not tried to edit them with another program, since I haven’t needed to yet, but I’ll try to edit them with Coda the next time I come across one.

    Version control works if both sides sync up and the folder’s set in the settings, that way if you try to upload an older file, it will warn you like it does in Dreamweaver.

    For multiple servers, I’m not sure what you mean by this, but maybe this is more of a question for the backend programmers πŸ™‚

  • Hey!
    I have tried this Coda software and I found it very good for my needs. I have never liked DW. Not only it crashes many times, but also becouse it is too complex for some simple tasks. And It seems I had never really used to its workflow.
    But when I tried Coda I was very happy about it. Simple work flow for simple tasks, and I got used to UI in less than half of hour.
    so, thanks for advice:)


  • Coda sounds nice coming from the few friends I know who use it. But being for Mac OS X and not being free both render its pros entirely irrelevant to me. It may be kinda old, bulky and limited to boot, but I actually still use Textpad. For everything outside of .NET development, which I do in their IDE obviously, I use Textpad. The app I use to upload allows me to edit files live, do command-line Linux maintenance, and most everything I need. Between it and Textpad I’m usually all set. The lack of bells and whistles and having to do some stuff manually hasn’t hindered me enough to migrate. Except when I apply to jobs, almost all of which have a deep affinity for Dreamweaver. :-/

  • This is a pretty good PhotoShop replacement.

    FREE, Open Source goodness…

  • Thanks a lot. I’m trying to see if it’s a viable dreamweaver cs5 replacement. Other things I’m missing from dw:
    -Open the page’s included files in tabs.
    -To easily get to a specific code on a long page I like to select the rendered code in preview mode to easily find the code.
    -I too am on multiple monitors and missing window is a killer.
    -Multiple people work on our server and I like the dreamweaver warning that there exist a newer file on the server before I save over someone else’s work
    -properties window. – quick change an element’s properties

    I do like it though and am trying to see i can adopt it into the flow

  • Daniel Steer

    I am relatively new to web design but have looked thoroughly into what works best for me. At first dreamweaver felt like the obvious choice but the more I learnt the less satisfied with dreamweaver I became. I now use Coda for general day to day coding, css edit for css and transmit as the ftp client. I have a two screen setup so effectively I code and structure on one screen and css style on the other. I have found I can work twice as fast and code more efficiently using this setup and software combination than using dreamweaver.

  • Just wondering what you guys like to do when you have some PHP and MySQL database dynamic sites to build. Do you still rely on Coda to handle the PHP side of things? I work with several clients who require dynamic email sign up areas etc, and Dreamweaver makes this type of work easier. Yes it’s a challenge coping with all the issues of setting up and dealing with Dreamweaver’s complex behaviors but PHP can be the tougher end of the coding spectrum. Is Coda your only working environment for PHP or do you have other editors?

    Jonny P

  • Coda is an all-in-one IDE, which means it handles every type of file. Of course, you have to know how to code in the languages, because it won’t code for you. Even though Dreamweaver offers some pre-coded functions, I really caution against those because it never seems to be able to produce nice, optimized code.

  • Hm… you got me thinking… I might give Coda a try πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  • Ah, it’s only for Macs… πŸ™

  • Well writen, for same reasons using e-texteditor on win 7 these days which is windows implimentation ofmac’s textmate

  • Rob

    Don’t forget how cool the Clips library is. Here is a good place to get started:

    Also, for a much faster install of WordPress just grab it from SVN via terminal (which you can use inside of Coda as well), 2 commands will get you up and running in seconds. Here is a good article for that too:

    Nice overview, love Coda, use it religiously.

  • nick

    Having to usI am on windows, but I run an osx vm just so I can use coda. Its wonderful. Having to use DW and its ghastly FTP at my day job is soul crushing.

  • I’ve been testing Coda a few days. But I ended up using BBEdit as general webdev tool. I had to edit HTML, CSS, SASS, HAML, JScript files. Sometimes PHP. So it was very good for me. I hate Dreamweaver from the old days I was using it.
    If only BBEdit would have a real FTP manager, it would be great for me.
    So BBEdit for webdev and Filezilla for FTP.

  • I’ve been using Coda for many years now – and I realize this an older article – and I absolutely love it. Panic’s customer support, which is a huge purchase factor for me, is lacking, however the pros far outweigh the cons.

    I was fortunate enough to buy it during a sale. And unless I’m bulk uploading, I always use the FTP in Coda rather than Transmit. Using Coda has sped up my development time several times over, easily. I build directly on the server now, and save via download at the end of the day.

  • Chad

    I’ve been using Coda instead of DW at at home for many of the same reasons you’ve listed. I have to say Coda is becoming a favored tool. Dreamweaver has some great features that keep it in my toolset. But Coda is most of the best things about Dreamweaver without the bloat.

  • Chad

    Plus I’ve set up my terminal to be able to open any file in Coda the same as can be done with “mate” for Textmate. Very handy.

  • Hey Cosmin, Coda works on all of the file formats too πŸ™‚

  • I’ve been able to get a hold of them the best through Twitter…do they just not respond to you?

  • They responded, but how it was resolved was less than ideal. I won’t address the problem here, though. πŸ™‚

    Overall, I have been very impressed with the quality of the software Panic produces – I put them in the same category as Tapbots for making software that is as beautiful to use as it looks.

  • Christi

    I’m testing out Coda now… I see the split view…but is there a way to have the html file on one side and the css file on the other? I liked how dreamweaver has all the embedded files accessible when you open the one html file.

    Oh and tabbing through different tabs…is there a shortcut key that I’m missing? Like DW and most others is command ~

    I do like the look of coda better though…

  • Hmm I’m not sure honestly, have you checked out their forums? I’ve never liked split view or keyboard shortcuts πŸ˜‰

  • Chuck

    Personally, I’m using dreamweaver templates for a project that requires alot of repeating elements (if your wondering, I’m making a recipes app for ipad, and the pages are pretty much made up of a bunch of repeating tables.) I love dreamweaver templates because I can make one of everything, then I can set it as a repeatable element in the template and just press a button and BOOM! I have another one.

    My question to you is: is there a way to replicate the push of a button code duplication that repeating regions allow for in dreamweaver?

    Heres my example I have finished:
    the template:
    a finished recipe:

  • I’ve gone through several editors lately. Some of them are better for some things than others. Coda is amazing for that php guy that loves simplicity. It’s also a perfect wordpress solution. The code clips alone are a great feature. It still lacks some of the great features that dreamweaver has and is somewhere in between Sublime 2 and dreamweaver. I will say this though if you want to learn something this program can help. The reference library is sick and ready to help at all times. All though getting to it is a bit irritating sometimes…

    There are some editing things in sublime that keep me coming back and the fact that the sidebar for folders supports folders from different directories can be gold. The editing features in sublime kill the competition in a lot of ways too. CMD “D” is my favorite for selecting the selection you just made repeatedly in a doc.

    For all you CMS lovers out there though there is no faster method for working on a live or local site. The ftp is always top notch, but they have been the best for a while.

    I bought it. I use it when I know it will be the best choice. I’ll always own it.

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