technology letdown

I have played with 2 things in the last couple days that I had high hopes for, Google Reader from Google and Coda from Panic.

I usually use Safari’s built in RSS support to read my stuff. I had it nicely setup and organized. It pulls the feeds, and have each set of feeds in folders on my bookmarks bar. When a new article is posted, the number next to the folder name increments. Immediately. Works great. But, at the urging of others, I have decided to give firefox a hardcore try, as safari has been my preferred browser for a while.

So I switched default role to firefox, and poof, there went my RSS reader. I started to play with Sage, but I wasn’t impressed, as I did not find an easy way to add my existing feeds into it, and I was not about to manually go to each page again.

So I exported my feeds from Safari, and dumped them all into Google Reader. While I am on my own laptop all the time, a web based solution does have some benefits. The interface is nice, grouping via folders and tags is nice. The ability to pull out starred and shared items as its own RSS feed is a feature I was liking to feed this page.

The biggest problem I am having is that the update cycle on the feeds seems to suck. For example, as I type this, Robyn and Harper have both posted things. NEITHER of them are in the reader yet. Hell, I was just reading them on harpers aggregate site instead. Lame.

That might just be the deal breaker there, which is unfortunate, as I was kinda getting to like it. I think I will try Sage again, I am sure there is an import option. Otherwise that developer needs a swift kick in the shins.

Meanwhile… Coda was released, and it looked cool. Personally, I do all my coding in BBEdit. Pure text. I have also been using CSSEdit for some nice immediate gratification CSS tweaking. I don’t have a problem with WYSIWYG editors, but I can’t handle the code they produce. While the sites I personally run (my blogs, my horribly out of date other sites, etc) all are shit, the sites I produce for clients are perfect, code wise. Ok, perfect is not what I mean, but I ensure that they validate properly via W3C, I get all anal about tabs, space, and other white space things. I want my source to look right and be super clear. It is partially anal, partially because it makes it WAY easier to make a tweak 3-6 months down the road when I am not fresh on the page. And lets not get into the includes, I love includes.

So when I was reading the product page for Coda, I was intrigued. Sure, BBEdit already has the text environment, GREP, code coloring, etc. It doesn’t auto complete, but I often find that more annoying than it is worth. And BBEdit has built in FTP, so that is already there. But I was excited. I had a small 1 page brochure page that was a print piece that needed to be ‘web-ized’ and they wanted the same look. So I figured perfect chance to play with Coda in a real situation.

Lets just say I finished the site in BBEdit and CSSEdit. Coda operates on the premise that having a text editor, a FTP client, a reference library, and a browser open as multiple apps is a PITA, and thus having one app that does all that is easier. I have always preferred component stereos over all in ones, so I might be biased, but I didn’t see this as a strong point for Coda. I still have a finite amount of deskspace, and I still need to be in all those apps at some point, so I still have to click around alot. Savings, marginal. And I still need to test in multiple browsers, so the savings wasn’t insane. I found myself still bouncing into YummyFTP to make changes, due primarily in part to my next complaint.

Coda and I don’t lay things out the same way in terms of the file hierarchy. I like the have everything separate. Everything. Hell, Dylan recently got me on the concept of keeping the images for the layout and the images for the content in different places. I like keeping all the CSS organized and in their own files. So when Coda wants to put my styles in the file I am working on, albeit at the top and not inline, I was like, no. But Coda had already decided that. So I have to go and create the incl folders and CSS folders, etc, then move my files there manually, etc. All while Coda wanted to do it in the file. Their may be a way around that, but I couldn’t find it. And if I have to search much harder, it ceases to be a ‘feature’ or ‘option’.

Coda also lets you dev locally, then push ‘publish’ and sent the files to the server. But since I had to keep changing the file structure, that wasn’t working well for me, and I started having 2 branches of the development going, and resyncing them wasn’t seemingly easy. So there I was, 2 version of a 1 page site, using an app that wanted to do things that I was not all about, and boom, my time savings was gone. The convenience wasn’t there, and in fact, it was causing me problems.

I think Coda has some nice features. The standard IDE popup as you type style thing for CSS and PHP was nice, but not that awesome. I find the BBEdit built in FTP more than sufficient, and YummyFTP is easier when I am setting up the folder structure. I can dev locally, since it is OSX and I have MySQL, Apache, PHP, etc all here, so on the off chance I am not online (like, on a plane?) I can keep working provided I plan ahead a tiny bit. CSSEdit is hard to beat, and Coda was not better, but was nice none the less. I never bothered with the reference library, isn’t that what the internet is for?

I think Coda could be cool. I am sure for some people it is great. I think that when Coda 2.0 comes out, I will see if my issues have been resolved.

So overall, I haven’t been thrilled with my 2 new technology test drives. I haven’t given up on google reader yet, and it isn’t like it is hard to keep using it. I have given up on Coda though, atleast until next version. Time to try Sage I guess.

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