Panic Coda is a great all-in-one Web development environment, but it’s missing some of the power and refinement of dedicated applications. If you already have a collection of power tools, you’ll still love working in Panic Coda, turning to Transmit, CSSEdit, skEdit, or TextMate as needed. But, especially if you’re starting out and want to save some cash, the following (mostly free) applications are a good way to fill in Coda’s gaps.
File Transfers Coda is great for working on a remote site or publishing a few changed local files, but if you have to juggle multiple transfers with multiple sites or want to synchronize local and remote directories, you really need something like Transmit. Want to save thirty bucks? Get Cyberduck (pictured below). It’s free, AppleScriptable, and includes a handy CyberDuck Dashboard widget, just like Transmit.
Multi-File Search Coda’s Find and Replace using Grep is groovy, but it can’t search within multiple files. Bare Bones Software’s free TextWrangler can. Or try the free HTML editor, Taco HTML Edit (pictured below). And if you just want to do a quick search without replacing, try the free EasyFind from DEVON Technologies.
Comment/Uncomment Need to troubleshoot a troublesome file? Both Komodo Edit and Aptana will let you quickly comment or uncomment sections so you can pinpoint the problem.
Find Differences Coda won’t let you compare two different files, highlighting the differences. But TextWrangler will. You can also try FileMerge, free in OS X’s Developer > Applications > Utilities folder.
Insert Special Characters Need to insert a © symbol, but can’t remember the name code? Coda won’t help you there, but even Taco HTML Edit has a Quick Insert menu for special characters and symbols. Or have a look at the CharacterPal Dashboard widget (pictured below) from Taco Widgets (no relation to Taco HTML Edit).
Tidy Your Code I’ve already mentioned Coda’s lack of formatting aids (see 30 Panic Coda Tips and Tricks) and recommended Tidy Service. Taco HTML Edit can also organize your tags, so everything is neatly indented.
Manage Snippets Coda’s Clips palette offers basic functionality, but if you want ultimate control over your clippings you’ll have to part with some cash. I use Textpander, a now-defunct freeware app that was bought by SmileOnMyMac and given a new moniker, TextExpander. At $29.95, it’s pricey, but it lets you assign custom hotkeys with over 30 delimiter characters as a trigger. You might also have a look at shadowClipboard ($15) from stupidFish, which lets you create unlimited clipboard sets.
For (almost) everything else that might be missing from Coda, and especially the Preview mode, check out the Web Developer Extension from Chris Pederick and Joe Hewitt’s Firebug, two Firefox extensions. Together, they offer more features than you can shake a mouse at. Trust me, if you’re not using these, grab them immediately and thank me later.
CSS Validation Coda validates HTML and XHTML, but not CSS. Use the Web Developer Extension or Firebug.
CSS Optimization Coda doesn’t tidy your HTML and it won’t optimize your CSS, either. Grab Andy Peatling’s CSS Tweak widget. This widget will optimize your CSS, substantially reducing the file size.
Previewing your pages in a split pane is convenient, but even HTML Taco Edit will do that. And what’s so great about sneaking a peek at the source code. Coda’s Preview doesn’t give you any real insight into your pages. Again, grab the Web Developer Extension and Firebug and you can poke around under the hood and put your pages to the test. Firebug, for example, lets you watch a timeline of files loading in your page, helping you troubleshoot slow pages (pictured below).
Rulers Coda’s Preview won’t let you display rulers, like you can in GoLive or Dreamweaver. You can eyeball your design, or you can grab PixelatedSoftware’s PixelStick (below), try Pixel Perfect (a sample application for Adobe’s new Apollo cross-OS runtime), or use the Line Guides, Page Magnifier, or Ruler in the Web Developer Extension.
I don’t use Terminal much, but if you just need a quick terminal for executing a few commands on your localhost, have a look at Visor, which opens a full-width terminal at the top of your screen—like a visor—with the press of a hotkey.
Coda’s Books pane is a fantastic idea, and it’s convenient to invoke help by Command-clicking on a word in the Editor, but you have to be connected to the internet to use them and they’re not very beginner friendly (I’d like the ability to add my own files and links). If you’re looking for quick help on a tag, try these Dashboard widgets: Guy D2′s SeeSS widget (below) for…CSS, and the PHP Function Reference widget from Newfangled Telegraph. And if you really want help with HTML or CSS (especially if you’re a noob), check out my favorite Web resource: Patrick Griffiths’s HTML Dog.