Why I Switched From Dreamweaver to Coda
3 September 2011
This may be shocking because you have noticed in my byline that I freely proclaim my loyalty to Adobe products. But here goes: I have switched from Dreamweaver and I intend to make this long-term.
I don't hate Dreamweaver as a code editor. I've used it for years and have developed a pretty smooth workflow with it. But the reason I started using it has always bothered me: I paid a lot of money for it in the Creative Suite, so I had darn well better get my money's worth from it! I feel regret for all the years lost in ignorance of the other powerful editors out in the wild.
Why I Ditched Dreamweaver
My number one problem with Dreamweaver is the upgrade cycle and the expense it imposes. I typically skip a generation when it comes to Creative Suite upgrades. For most of the apps, it's not a big deal. You get a few new trinkets, but the core functionality stays basically the same. Dreamweaver is the exception because of the screaming pace of innovation on the web. Built-in conveniences like code coloring, syntax debugging and auto-completion get in the way of new code features. For little guys like us, dropping that much money every year just isn't in the books. Sure, you could buy Dreamweaver separately to keep up, but that still seems wasteful and expensive to me.
Design view stinks in Dreamweaver. It's inaccurate and writes bad code. I never use it. So I keep it open side by side in a browser window to preview it, but switching between apps and having to constantly save and refresh is cumbersome.
So half of Dreamweaver sits there and takes up space — a lot of space. Dreamweaver weighs in at just under a half a gig. HUGE!
And then a couple small, irksome things: Lines of text that get wrapped when they reach the end of the window (like body copy on an HTML page) don't follow your indent system, so it makes for messy looking code. Plus, Dreamweaver's closing tag auto complete feature guesses wrong sometimes. It will always try to find something to close, even if nothing needs closing.
Why I Chose Coda
It's only $99, and the intermittent updates are usually free. So I feel like I'm staying on the cutting edge of new coding standards.
Preview mode is accurate, runs on WebKit and is even live updating when you edit HTML in a split window. Its superior preview mode was also what persuaded me to choose Coda over Espresso — Coda's preview mode supports server-side technologies when you direct it to the local server. Espresso can't.
Its total digital footprint: only 43.5 MB. That's a tiny 10% of Dreamweaver's obese figure.
Text wrapping works right. What a relief. I couldn't live with it another day! And auto completion works just the way it should. It inserts the closing tag for you and puts your cursor between them.
I also really love the integrated environment and the flexibility of the workspace. I love adding frames and opening up documents side by side. The built-in reference books are handy, if not a bit out of date, but helpful nevertheless.
The FTP client is snappy and intutitive. I love how it automatically marks changed files for upload. I was always forgetting what I'd changed in Dreamweaver.
So, I choose Coda. After two weeks I'm not even missing Dreamweaver. Though, I'll admit it's still installed, and will probably stay. But that has more to do with me not wanting to mess up my dock: