Web Dev App Reviews from the Pros – Part 1, Mac

If you’re going to develop applications for the web, where do you look for software? Do you try and scourer the web for reviews, or do you ask your friends what they use to develop? Maybe you download a trial version and see if it works for you. What if you are new to the industry and don’t have the resources to buy multiple apps, or the friends to draw experiences from? What if you find an app and the workflow is horribly off, and its something that you regret paying for? Luckily, I did some of the hard work for you. I have always been frustrated with the fact that when it comes down to buying software, you have the companies’ beautifully designed web pages, and some quotes, but nothing else to go on. If it’s marketed well, how do you know if it’s right for you?  I selected a few people who are movers and shakers in the industry, and I asked them what they use. For Part 1, we are talking about Mac Coding apps. But don’t worry PC folks, there will be a Part Two (There is also some feedback from Dreamweaver, which is available on PC).

Dan Rubin @danrubin | Site | Some Work Samples

designer, singer, photographer, philosopher, polymath in training; improving the world through design. also, half-English by birth.

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I use a combination of Textmate and CSSEdit, and couldn’t be happier with the two. I used to use BBEdit back in the days before editors were cool, but I left it behind the day I first encountered Textmate. For me, using an app is as much about features and functionality as it is about “feel” — I need to enjoy using it, and looking at it for hours on end. BBEdit never quite reached that level, Textmate did the first time I launched it.
CSSEdit is likely the most underrated application on the Mac for front-end developers — it does one thing (CSS), and it does it incredibly well. I’m constantly giving demos of it to people, and they all end up falling in love with it (a similar reaction to people really using a Mac for the first time). My favorite feature is the ability to view a live site, extract its stylesheets and edit them, seeing the effects in real-time on the live site.

I’ve tried Coda and Espresso, and though I love Panic for Transmit (it’s all I’ve used for FTP/SFTP since at least the OS 9 days) and MacRabbit for CSSEdit, the attempt both developers have made to squeeze so many different apps into one interface falls short. The features of CSSEdit haven’t made it into Espresso (and it feels like CSSEdit has been forgotten as well, though I hope that isn’t the case), and Coda’s file transfer feels nothing like Transmit — if both all-in-one apps incorporated the full feature set of their publisher’s exceptional standalone apps, I would be more inclined to fall for them…

The theme for me is simplicity: Textmate and CSSEdit both focus on allowing a limited set of tasks to be performed as easily as possible, and because of that they both succeed.

Niki Brown @nikibrown | Site | Some Work Samples

I’ve been designing since I was a little kid – drawing cartoons, making fake newspapers, and planning my plot to take over the world. (Just kidding). My early interests in design were heightened when I got my first computer, it was love at first sight! I made my first website in 1996, with the help of geocities and word-art.

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I use dreamweaver mostly for the instant visual feedback. I tend to use the split view (code & design) since I’m 2 parts designer 1 part coder. I know that the Dreamweaver design view isn’t completely accurate (I still check designs in safari, FF, chrome, and satan…i mean IE) , but it gives me the fastest feedback on how my design looks as I code. I’m also a fan of the auto complete feature and the source formating.

I have also been using Espresso which i got with the most recent Macheist bundle, and have tried Textmate and coda. When I’m on the go with my EEEPC I use Notepad++ mostly because its free and was easy to figure out.

Chris Spooner @chrisspooner | Site | Some Work Samples

I’m a creative Designer, avid Blogger and I’m generally crazy about pretty colours and shapes.

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Nowadays I tend to use Coda for all my XHTML, CSS and the odd snippet of PHP. Previously I’d been a Dreamweaver user simply because it’s the app that introduced me to web design so I simple stuck with it out of comfort. It wasn’t until I switched over to Mac that there was a selection of great looking coding apps such as Coda, Textmate and Espresso that took my fancy. I tried out all the demo versions but always went back to Dreamweaver because I’d got used to the workflow and shortcuts. I hated how Dreamweaver took years to boot up, but I also couldn’t get used to an app automatically closing my tags for me right after I’d written it after being used to DWs ‘bracket, slash’ way of working.

Nevertheless, I was still determined to switch to an alternative, so I went ahead and bought Coda on one of their discount days and stuck it out over the first week or so. Now I’m happily typing away on a swish looking app that loads at light speed, I’m also enjoying a whole new collection of features that I’d certainly miss should I migrate again!

Adii Rockstar @adii | Site | Some Work Samples

Entrepreneur, co-founder of WooThemes and general creator of Rockstar Awesomeness!

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First thing you’ve got to note, is that I’m not a natural coder and that what I know, I’ve taught myself. So when it comes to choosing a development app, I use whatever works for me, because of convenience; and not necessarily because it’s a hardcore development app. Anyway… When I switched from PC to Mac 2 years ago, I had to find a replacement for Dreamweaver and my best available option at the stage was Coda, which I continue to use to this day. I love the fact that’s it’s simple and uncluttered, as I don’t need much else from my development app. I’ve tried Espresso a few times, but I think I’ve just become to used to Coda.

Chris Coyier @chriscoyier | Site | Some Work Samples

Lead cascader. Head tag closer.

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TextMate is the code editor of choice on the Mac. It’s incredibly simple to add in commands that do simple things. For example, I set up command-L to wrap selected text in <li> tags. I write a lot of HTML, so that type of stuff is awesome. But yet, I end up using Coda more than any other editor. I work live right on servers most of the time and having it all integrated with FTP is priceless. I’ve been trying to switch to the ExpanDrive / TextMate combo, which I think will be the winner. What I really want is a merging of the code editing powers of TextMate with the integrated awesomeness of Coda. And to be fair, I haven’t really given Espresso a fair shake yet. I did a little Beta testing but it wasn’t compelling enough at the time to make a big impression for me.

Jeff Croft @JCroft | Site | Some Work Samples

Knowin’ nothing in life, but to be legit. Don’t quote me boy, cuz I ain’t said shit.

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For pretty much all of my coding, I use TextMate on Mac OS X. When TextMate first came out, it quickly became my favorite text editor, and the bundle approach to extensibility ensured that it continued to serve my needs, even as I explored different languages. I still think it’s the best overall app for my needs today. However, I do admit that I’ve grown frustrated with the lack of a significant update to the app since it’s original release. It’s still very good, but enough time has passed that it’s time for a refresh. I will note that I’m a big fan of Panic’s software and have considered switching to Coda, especially now that there are Django and Python plug-ins for it, but I have a certain inertia causing me to stick with TextMate — sometimes familiarity rules.

Tim Van Damme @MaxVoltar | Site | Some Work Samples

Designer at Made by Elephant, blogger at Maxvoltar. Will design for a warm bed.

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A bit of history: I started with Microsoft Frontpage. As I learned that writing HTML manually was the way to go, I switched to Dreamweaver. After I said goodbye to Windows and started using a Mac, Dreamweaver was terrible slow. I did some research and ended up with a combination of Textmate, CSSEdit and Transmit. When Espresso launched, I didn’t like it at first. Maybe it was because it’s a Belgian product, but I forced myself to use it for an entire week. It just clicked. It combined the simplicity of Textpattern with the sexiness (and a lot of features) of CSSEdit. Another important aspect was the workflow, a reason why I never used Coda (it looks great, and a lot of people say some really positive stuff about it, but it just isn’t for me I guess).

Designer, Maker of Things | Creative Director – @boomtownroi


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