A while back I tried to sign up as a beta tester with Panic for their new code editor ‘Nova’. Being a long time (since 2008) user of Coda (their current, OSX-native ‘web editor’) I was excited to learn that a new improved editor was on the horizon. Unfortunately I missed the boat with the beta testing but was pleasantly surprised to learn that Nova had recently been released. (despite not getting a an email about the launch even thought I’m on the mailing list).

Being a programmer my code editor is an important tool in may arsenal. It has to work well and feel right. Before switching to Mac I used to use UltraEdit on my Windoze machine. This worked very well and was easy to set up for the various compilers that I used. It was flexible enough to support a number of different workflows and also combined very well with sister products like UltraCompare.

After making the move to mac I found that there wasn’t really much in the way of decent code editors, especially when it came to supporting different work flows. Coda was a pretty good effort but lacked a few critical tools, like being able to use external compilers, which was critical for my work at the time. Fast forward through the past decade and my need for external compilers lessened and the primary use that Coda saw was web site design and writing extensions for CMS’s, this is the stuff that Coda really excels at.

So I was pretty amped when I found out that Nova supports running external tasks, which pretty much opens Nova up for all kinds of different uses. I haven’t tested this out yet but will give it a go soon. I might try and set it up for compiling Arduino code as I often use Coda for editing my Arduino projects.

The Nova interface is pretty clean with minimal distractions. I initially mistook this as plain & feature-less but have grown to like it after a few days. It’s funny how those first impressions change after a while. One thing that I did notice pretty much straight away is that Nova is FAST. It is way faster than Coda, and it is massively noticeable straightaway.

There’s enough of Coda in Nova that Coda users will feel at home. Most of the menu options are in the same place with the same names. I note that the SQL explorer has been junked, I think I used that feature exactly twice in the 12 odd years I’ve owned Coda So Good riddance. TBH any serious dev either sets up an instance of phpMyAdmin or uses the CLI. I like that the sidebar contains the remote file browser but there’s also an FTP like file browser window as well. I think that this is something that a lot of Coda users will feel more at home using. Nova also comes with command line integration (CLI), which is pretty cool and retains the ‘projects’ management from Coda although it is a little more streamlined.

I think overall it is a win, it definitely feels like Coda has grown up a little but still manages to retain the same Mac charm that only a dedicated app can. There’s enough basic features to support more complex workflows than in Coda, and is more like an IDE than the simple web editor that Coda sold itself as.

Great job Cabel.