Of the various services I offer, web design and content updates are probably 60% of my work. On the Mac I’ve been using Panic’s Coda since it was released many years ago so, when it was released for iOS, I was excited. But I mostly found it lacking (along with iOS at that time) and continued using my Mac. I used it a bit but only minimally. That changed in 2016 as I transitioned to the iPad for website related work. I wrote about my website update workflow back in May and then again in July as things shifted. I’m still not certain things have settled in for good (do they ever?) but I’m more satisfied now then I’ve been in the past with this revised workflow.
As it turns out I have settled in with Coda and Transmit as my primary toolset. I initially resisted Coda because I wanted my “local” files to be synced to DropBox as is possible with the Mac version of Coda. But the convenience and power of Coda was too much to resist. All content updating is now done in Coda on the iPad. Because Coda and Transmit share the same local file store on the iPad I can then use Transmit once a week to push the changed files to my local MacMini’s Dropbox folder and everything get’s synced to DropBox. Not ideal but very close.
What I’ve grown to appreciate about Coda as I’ve used it more is that it is so fully featured and so close to the Mac version. The familiar two pane interface is very easy to use. I can select multiple files to copy back and forth from local files to the server or the other way around. I can drag and drop single files to do the same. I can quickly filter for a file by name or sort by size, name, date modified. The one power tool missing is find/replace for in-file content across multiple files from the file browser. But that’s not something I use all the time so I’ve gotten along okay without it.
When editing, of course Coda provides for syntax highlighting as well as find and replace of text within a file. I can have multiple files open and switch between them via the tabs. Of course there is code auto-complete as well as suggestion for files such as images that have been indexed. When I’m adding code for an image I get a pop-up with a list of images that reside in the images folder for that site. Very handy. Snippets for specific sites as well as app-wide are occasionally useful. And, of course, preview of a page. Lastly, when using with an external keyboard the app behaves exactly as I expect with the same (or mostly the same) shortcuts that are available on the Mac version. I can save, close, switch tabs, find, preview and more with keyboard shortcuts.
Once I settled on Coda on iPad as the primary tool for website related work I learned far more of the features and became more comfortable with the app. It actually mirrors the process I experienced with the iPad itself. The more I used it the more comfortable I became with it and with that comfort comes increased productivity.
A great example of this is using Coda in split screen with Mail or Messages. My clients use email or Messages to send text, PDF and image files for website updates. Having split view makes all the difference. One of my most regular clients sends the text in the body of emails or Messages or as Pages files. Being able to quickly shift back and forth from Coda to one of those other apps via split screen made all the difference. In fact, if it were not for split screen I would not be using the iPad as I do.
I’ll illustrate with a fun moment that happened a couple weeks ago as I was working with the above mentioned client. He was sending new content and I was updating his site as we chatted back and forth. He commented that it was interesting watching the changes pop up live as we chatted. He was impressed and I was too. Without even thinking about it I’d been switching between Coda, Messages, Mail and Pages, updating html pages, creating new pages and carrying on a conversation in Messages. It wasn’t that I’d accomplished any great feat. This was just the normal process of a pretty typical task. But I was using iOS on an iPad with the same speed and fluidity with which I use a Mac. Very satisfying.