There are lots of different website development editors on the Mac and in general. Each has a different take on how web development should be done. This post is designed to compare some of the biggest web development apps on the Market today. The criteria for being on this list includes the ability to edit websites in general. For example they include features to preview your site, the ability to see your images in use etc. Programs such as Textmate and TextEdit which are good programs for editing html could be included on the list, but they are more multi-purpose and they are not designed for previewing websites.
The 4 which are included on this list includes: Coda, Dreamweaver, iWeb, Rapidweaver. Each has a different take on how you could develop and build your website. All have features for previewing your site and are specifically designed to help build your website.
Each site will be reviewed on many features such as usability, features, price, easy of use, plus it pros and cons. Each site will then be graded and an overall winner will be found. I am going to use my personal experiences while doing these reviews. As a result the reviews may be more bias in a certain direction. I personally like a program which can work with a lot of coda, so I would see that as a main feature. Other peoples feelings may be different. If you have an opinion please leave it in the comments.
Coda is an all in one web development application. It is designed to combine many programs which you would normally use into one program. For example it has, ssh and Terminal built in, CSS editing capabilities. A really good code editing program and finally a really useful file browser and manager.
The idea behind Coda is to make editing programs as simple as possible. You view and load you programs files using the site manager. This makes the sidebar act in a similar way to Finder. On your remote server you can do everything that you would do locally on your own machine. Once as you site is loaded, you can download, move, edit, copy and remove and file you want. Editing files is also very easy. You have two options. You can use the CSS editor for editing css. Or you can use the Edit option. This is useful for actually editing your code. Finally you can preview your site using the preview option.
Coda is very code based. It has a lot of syntax highlighting options, the ability to auto complete various functions such as CSS and HTML. There isn’t a lot of features built into the program to let you automatically add images, and other feature as found in the other programs. This program is aimed at the advance developer, rather than the new user. If you are new to html and websites using this program would be very difficult.
- Usability: Very easy for advance users, each section is split off into a separate panel.
- Features: Lots of features, syntax highlighting, auto-completion, Terminal, ssh, and subversion built in.
- Price: $99
- Total Score: 4.5/5 I really like this program. Its is easy to use, lots of features the only draw back is its high cost.
Probably one of the oldest web development programs. Dreamweaver started with Macromedia in December 1997 and has grown from there. It is used (I think) in more of a corporate environment and is designed as a program for many people to use on a large scale. For the individual user it may not be the best choice. But it is still a good web development program is included on this list.
Dreamweaver is designed to be more user friendly, for example it has links and functions to quickly add images, other media. As well as this there is lots of options to build forms, database interfaces etc. It has a lot more features in comparison to other programs. You can quickly and easily build a website with this program will little html knowledge.
Editing and making websites and webpages is rather simple. Once as you have created your files with the file browser you can open up your file. This program works with a lot of different language and specifications. The scope is rather large. You can then start writing. For example you can insert your images, css, tables. It again has syntax highlighting and auto complete. The preview tab is also very useful, although it never tends to reflect what you actually see in web browsers which can get annoying.
There is a couple of problems with this application in that the code that comes out of the application and functions are a bit messy. It is never as simple as it could be. It is clearly computer generated. As a result you web pages are bigger than they could be. Another point with this application is that is is very clunky. It is a really large program. As a result it can be slow to load, as well use the various features on the program.
- Usability: Lots of features for adding elements to you page.
- Features: Hundreds of them, lots of ways to build your page, good for multi user environment.
- Price: £400, price varies
- Total Score: 3.5/5 Good for new users, but not very Mac like, outputs bad code.
iWeb is brilliant for Mums, Dad and Grandparents in helping them get there first site on to the Internet. Its a really good application for getting your first site online. You don’t have to touch any code (you can’t actually get to any). Actually using the application is simple. You put your elements on the page, you then add your images and your text. You are pretty much done.
There are lots of features for using iWeb. It is designed to be simple and blend in with the other applications in the iLife suit. All of the controls are simple and obvious what they do. The simple interface lets you visually see what you are making. This is most useful for anyone coming into the field of making websites. As well as this the templates that are provided are really good. They are simple but have lots of ways in which you can expand and change them as you wish.
There obvious problems with this application. It is designed for new users. It is not designed for the web developer, there is no access to the source code from the application. As a result you can become quite restricted very quickly. For example if you want to do something and the pre-built code and interface wont let you are stuck.
- Usability: Good for new users, although is definitely not for experienced users.
- Features: Lots of visual methods though buttons and controls for making sure everything on the page works and looks correct.
- Price: Free – $79 depending on when you bought your Mac
- Score: 4/5 Good for only new users.
The last web development application is RapidWeaver. I haven’t used this application as extensively as the other applications. But from the time I have spent using it, it is similar to using Coda and iWeb. It has the best of both worlds.
RapidWeaver has a lot of features. It is a very popular app. It has a beautiful interface, and lots of themes. It takes a little bit of getting used to. But once as you have found out how to edit various elements on the page it works really well. It is a really good Mac application. Dreamweaver for example feels like a clone of the Windows app, but this program takes advantage of the Cocca programming interface. As a result It is a really powerful app that a new user could use and get really good results out of.
- Usability: A good set of features, get a little bit of time to get used to.
- Features: Not as many as Dreamweaver but there is plenty there
- Price: $79
- Score: 3.5/5 Good but doesn’t feel as good as the other apps.
If you cast your mind back or look through your RSS feed. I mentioned about Espresso. It is a web development application that is in beta. Its a good application as it stands but is by no way complete. As a result it is going to be left out of this small comparison.
Which One To Buy?
Out of the four I personally like Coda, it has a lot of features and is based around developing code. The problem with this application is that its designed for advance users. As a result it is not good for new people to web development. Rapidweaver and iWeb are very similar in what they do. I prefer Rapidweaver after getting used to it, although iWeb is very simple for new users. You can jump straight in. All of the controls are simple to used. RapidWeaver you need to explore more before you find what everything does. Finally Dreamweaver is good for people who have the cash. It is very expensive in comparison. As a result is probably only good for companies.
Everyone has there own experienced and needs. I personally love Coda, as a result I think this review is bias towards that application. New users who have no idea what they are doing would probably love iWeb and Rapidweaver and may find Coda to hard to use.
Tell me what you think. I may be doing another post like this in the coming months which include Espresso, which sounds promising but in the preview stage doesn’t quite do a lot.
If you want to keep up with the latests post from iLoveMacApps I recommend you subscribe to the RSS Feed.
Comparison Of Web Development Apps