Things I miss in

Not that I think my web design abilities were particularly useful, but working on web applications comes with the necessity of editing HTML and CCS files and some JavaScript.

My favorite tool for doing so is Coda from Panic Software. I’ve been using Espresso from MacRabbit quite a lot as well and still like many of its features, but somehow Coda works better with my muscular brain.

I sometimes wish the two teams just threw together what they have, because there are a few things that I really miss in Coda:

  • Many times, existing HTML code is badly formatted. And when I say badly, I really do it with my tongue in cheek, because sometimes you spend half a day just reformatting a few files just to see their structure. There is a breadcrumb component in Coda that tries to help here, but what I think would be really helpful is a little visual hint in the editor directly showing an opening tag for the closing tag your cursor is positioned on. Espresso shows these in the line numbers by using shades of grey. It is sometimes a real nightmare to find the closing div tag for a tag within a tree of divs that all end within a few lines. I would love to see the text between an opening tag and its closing tag to be highlighted whenever I move the cursor over the opening or closing tag. If that’s too hard to do, what about a menu option like “search corresponding open/close tag”?
  • CSS3. Coda has a very nice CSS editor and the syntax highlighting is very helpful, but there are many CSS3 options missing. I guess Panic will soon add these once CSS3 is more common-sense. I have a hard time memorizing the parameters for border-shadow or gradients etc. Visual support in editing these would be perfect
  • I hate the little dialog asking me if I really want to upload all files when I just clicked on “Publich All”. I mean, if I say “All”, do you think I mean all, but in a way that really means all but just a few? This think really annoys me, because most of the times I already am in Safari and wonder why my changes aren’t effective yet, just to find out I simply forgot to re-state to Coda that I really want o upload all.
  • Espresso’s options for synching and merging files between the local folders and the web server are really helpful, especially if I need to work on html code from somewhere on the road where I don’t have a copy of the remote files, or just an old version of the site.
  • Somehow it seems I am missing an option to keep the display of validation errors in HTML files active. Maybe I need to find the right preference somewhere, but I always have to turn it on by hand.
  • Espresso has an auto formatter for HTML files, which can help a lot when you have to deal with badly formatted HTML code. Even if my taste is different and I’d like it formatted in a slighty different way, I still am able to see the structure of the file (it’s always about “where’s this div/span/tr or whatever ending?”)
  • Search for links and occurences! This one is a feature I often miss a lot. There are times when you need to know if there are any internal links to a page and it can be a pain to use the normal text searching facilities. I’d wish for a view in which I can see the links between my pages.
  • A perfect extension to this would be the option to kick off a search for links to a page on your favorite search engine. Like “Who’s linking to this page”? Can I just remove it? This would turn Coda into an even more powerful site management tool than it already is.
  • Drag and Drop of relative URLs: Coda has some nice ideas about Drag&Drop, like when you type in a img tag and want to populate the src attribute, you can drag an image file from the sidebar into the code and it will populate the src attribute with the path of the file. Unfortunately, I don’t want to apload a link to an image file at the location “/Volumes/Mac Disk/Users/Joachim/Documents…”, but I need a relative url within the site. What if you’d simply assume that the top level directory of my “local” site is not a prefix for relative urls. And what if I could set a preference that says: prefix relative urls with “”? Wouldn’t this make life even easier?

So I’d say Coda is still one of the best if not the best tool for hand-coders of HTML and CSS code, but the guys at Panic surely are glad to hear that they still can do a little better.