Indispensable Tools

Beyond the screwdriver, knife, scissors, everyone has one or two things in their toolbox that keeps saving the day, or at least greatly simplifying things. Mine lately has been one of these SATA/IDE to USB cables [NewEgg, Amazon].

Perfect for quickly moving data between hard drives/computers. No need to open/close enclosures which aren’t meant to be opened 100 times. No need to open up your computer, or keep a HD dock on your desk. Just plug in and go. Only the most power-hungry (mostly older IDE) drives are occasionally problematic.

They seem to almost all be based on the JMicron JM20337 chip so the only difference between brands is likely the bundled power supply and quality of plastic. My advice is get whatever is on sale.

For those of us who deal with hardware fairly often, these things are pretty awesome, and totally underrated. It saves a lot of time/effort.

Coda Coolness

So I downloaded and tested out Coda a little bit today. My initial impression is that I’m very impressed. It could be the new standard. A few like Alex King point out that it uses Safari as the default engine. I don’t think that’s so bad. Nothing stops you from using 2 windows one being Firefox (obviously running Firebug). I think the editor itself is rather well polished and very refined. The use of Bonjour to allow for collaboration makes it perfect for multi-developer environments. And yes, you can have more than two developers collaborating in 1 document.

My typical workflow is very abrupt. I tend to have Firefox, IE, and an IDE open at all times when coding pages. Not to mention a KVM switch to go between platforms. This still consolidates several things, and with a much nicer UI.

I’ll need to try it (for actual development purposes) for a few days before I could tell if it really works as well I hope. Panic is one of my favorite Mac developers. Really well polished products are their specialty.

Komodo Convert

After reading about Myk’s use of Komodo, I decided to give it a try. I’ve yet to find the truly perfect IDE, so I’m always open to good alternatives.

For years I used BBEdit Lite, which was good enough for my somewhat basic needs, TextWrangler came and I moved over. On the Windows side of things, I had tried numerous editors for years, ultimately using Eclipse, ConTEXT, and (on a few occasions) jEdit. Mainly on the Windows side it has been ConTEXT, since it didn’t have the restrictive feel many IDE’s have. On the downside, it didn’t do much.

At work, I’ve been using Macromedia HomeSite. Overall it’s not too bad, but it does have it’s quirks. There’s definitely a bug in FTP that causes it to occasionally not show all the subdirectories when you nest to deep. Then it sometimes randomly throws errors at you. Most of the time they can be safely ignored, making me wonder if they are still errors when nothing bad happens.

So I downloaded Komodo Edit (free) on my Windows Laptop, and my Mac Mini, installed it on both, and played around. First order of business was playing with some local files. End result was that it handled things very well. I didn’t have to fuss around to much to get things accomplished… I like that. Next step was to try the FTP functionality (SFTP and SCP as I don’t like FTP). It worked, I was able to edit a few files and it performed rather well. Also nice was that it let you know it read the directory from cache. Most will hide this info from you.

In the end I decided a few things were missing. The most notable thing missing and preventing it from replacing HomeSite was the sidebar file manager. I work on many files, so I need a quick way to get to them. File –> Open wasn’t going to work. I decided to file a bug and request a similar feature as an enhancement. Other editors do a similar sidebar file tree, this wasn’t something revolutionary.

Ends up there is an Remote Drive Tree Extension that provides the functionality I desire. Sweet! The usual install process, restart and I’m going. Works perfectly. Only thing missing is drag/drop support so I could easily add files or move them around, renaming would also be helpful. Perhaps those features will come in the future.

So after a little time with it, I’ve decided I’m ready to try it for a week, and see if it handles my needs for the week. It has now qualified for testing.

I think I like it so far. I do have a few pet-peeves though:

  • FTP support is still a little buggy.
  • Slow startup time.
  • Prefs feel somewhat awkward and not as intuitive as one would hope.

But it’s still beta, so there’s time for it to grow.