After years in the making, Panic released Coda version 2 on May 24th. I don’t think I can over emphasize the excitement this generated in the Coda community after such a long wait and so much anticipation. The Panic website has the full rundown on the new features and changes – they claim over 100.
Upgrade pricing became a bit complicated for Panic since the Mac App Store does not even provide for upgrade pricing. So their compromise was to offer Coda 2 to everyone at half price ($50) for the first 24 hours from either their website or the Mac App Store. For some unspecified time after that, it will be $75 from both sources and then eventually reach its normal price of $100. Upgrades will still be available from their website at $75 for the foreseeable future.
Pricing is not the only complication the Mac App Store creates. Because of Apple’s policies for applications sold through the Mac App Store, those applications won’t always share the same features as the same application sold directly from the publisher. In Coda 2’s case, the Mac App Store version allows syncing of sites and clips via iCloud; the direct from Panic version does not. That’s the good side of the story. The other side is that future revisions of Coda 2 may lose features from the Mac App Store version based on changes to Apple policies.
So what about Coda 2? There’s no need for me to list all the new features; you can see all that online. But what really makes Coda 2 an improvement over Coda 1? And how does Coda 2 change the relationship with Espresso 2?
In some ways Coda 2 is simply a refinement of Coda 1. It makes the tools in Coda 1 faster, smoother, better and slicker. But remember, when Coda 1 was released it was a “revolution” in web development because it was the first environment that combined text editing, visual CSS editing, file management and web preview. Before that, one used some combination of text editors (BBEdit, TextMate, SubEthaEdit, others), file managers (Transmit, Cyberduck, Fetch, others) together with their favorite web browser and maybe CSSEdit (now a part of Espresso 2).
People still do use a combination of those tools (and Sublime Text 2 has gained a strong following recently). But many are finding the convenience of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) compelling, especially as the power of the individual tools within them now rival that of the separate applications. Does Coda 2 improve on Coda 1 enough to move more of those folks away from that approach to an IDE? Does it entice Espresso 2 users to switch?
Well… That depends
Coda 2 offers a couple of new, some might even say major, features that could change the equation. First, there’s a new integrated MySQL editor that allows full GUI management. It’s no secret that many web sites show dynamic content and that’s often served from MySQL databases. It makes perfect sense that such an editor should join the IDE next to the other key development tools.
The second big deal is the integration with the iPad. Get the Diet Coda app for your iPad and use it as a second screen to preview your work– its called AirPreview. You could use the preview function from Coda 2 to get a desktop browser preview of your site while you get the mobile preview on the iPad. But it only works with HTML, not dynamic sites like PHP. In addition, Diet Coda offers a full iPad-based IDE; which is an incredible tool worthy of another post of its own.
There are a number of “smaller” additions (they may not feel small if their critical to your workflow) to go with the big-ticket items: code folding (you can hear the cheers, now), Git source code management, Lion full screen mode and pop-up CSS code suggestions.
Balancing these additions is the puzzling, and perhaps controversial, removal of the visual CSS editor. It’s an odd regression in a time when features are added to applications, not removed.
For me personally, this is a deal breaker. I used the visual CSS editor a lot and was hoping for improvements to it, as there were improvements to virtually every other component, to bring it up to, and perhaps past, the CSSEdit implementation within Espresso 2. This leaves me firmly in the Espresso 2 camp.
But I’ll upgrade my copy of Coda anyway. Panic is a great company that creates perfectly Mac-like applications and now iPad apps. We’ll have to see how this plays out as the Coda community may also miss the visual CSS editor and Panic may bring it back in a Coda 2 update. Coda 2.5, anyone?