I did have a chance to play around with Coda a little bit over the past few days. I was a little reluctant to initially take a look at it since I only learned of its release via other people talking about it giddily. Usually this is a pretty clear indication that I should stay away because a) I'm not a good litmus for software development/testing since the way I actually work would drive 99% of the universe completely insane within a matter of minutes and b) the moment I read the name of a new application that no one has even had time to actually use it the irritation begins to build. All of this is totally unfair but I reserve the right to be angry and suspicious while everyone else celebrates and hallucinates. It's my deal.
So, anyway, I fucked around with Coda for a while and decided that I actually liked it a lot despite the fact that I could never be happy using it. I'm a little hung up on discreet pieces of the development puzzle so it just won't work for me though I can see how it would work wonderfully for others. To begin with, Coda does look polished and its UI generally looks really spiffy and, as many others have already said more eloquently, Mac-like. These are selling points and attractive for most people but pretty and whatEver2.0 1.0 releases fill me with dread and mistrust. It does feel a little sluggish on startup and I don't feel bad stating that at all since my machine has 2 gigs of RAM which is decent for a laptop. Coda runs without hesitation or any noticeable pokiness afterwards but the uptake feels pretty damned slow. Again, so what?
In terms of functionality, this software kind of misses my, uh, demographic since I don't really favor the 'site' model of grouping files together. This is my own shortcoming since I tend to piece things together incrementally instead of according to a larger plan. This is a wussy way of saying that I'm extremely lazy and prone to do huge chunks of work during several day intervals and then ignore the entire mess for months on end. I tend to split up more programmatic projects into several projects and then slowly starting adding files here there to a larger project which doesn't work so well for a site oriented application like Coda. I'm not the target audience so that doesn't matter much.
What is impressive is the integration of so many different and desirable utilities into a single interface that doesn't operate under the assumption that the user is either incompetent or stupid. What makes Coda more of a winner and less of a condescending and monolithic idol to the angry and wrathful gods of (theoretical) user-directed design is the fact the design portion of this was done out of the actual needs of the developers instead of the usual 'research' that developers invest into the planning process. If you can stand the sites model and you'd actually like to be able to view the code you're working on if necessary, this might be a tool worth dropping the cash on.
On thing I'd like to see included in future versions is an image map utility. It's one of those annoying things that seems to be either poorly implemented or entirely absent from most web tools at least for the Mac stuff. It would be nice to have that functionality available as an included tool that didn't get all tangled up in invented terminology (layers?!) and leave the utility worse than useless. There seem to be a lot of people who really want Subversion support rolled in but I'm not sure I entirely agree since this is a tool for creating websites and not something like Eclipse. I do hope that plugin development takes off for Coda as much of the extraneous stuff could be appended through that rather than bulking up the client more than is necessary.
I've been downloading a whole lot of comic book torrents which not only ups my geek levels to near infinite but yields bizarre panels of genius like the below:
Apparently beatniks are really into feet.
Not sure who to blame for the breadcrumbs at the top of this image over at the Denver Post but it ain't pretty:
I used to run Gentoo exclusively on all of my x86 machines but after this job started and other things started distracting me from actually having any fun using computers I slowly started migrating them all back to Debian. I think this is a natural progression for those who just don't have any time to mess around with their computers. The Gentoo install (or lack thereof) is something that is worthwhile a couple of times as you do learn a bit while doing it especially about how system libraries interact with applications that depend on them and other arcana that people are probably not all that interested in. Still, allowing wireless access to the laser printer and other types of administrivia are very much the practical dominion of a distribution like Debian. I trust Debian to just do what I tell it to and sometimes I forget that my desktop machine upstairs even exists. This is good and utilitarian but doesn't make me want to do anything cool with my computer. I need a CUPS server that keeps reliably working but I don't want to hang out with that server.
Sabayon is my fun distribution now because not only is it based on Gentoo but takes a matter of a couple hours to get functional. This includes installing a double handful of packages from portage and beginning to update world and rip out a few things I will never need like man pages in French. Most of the bulk is due to the fact that the CD will do pretty much anything you could think of out of the fucking box. I was a little astonished at how much this CD is capable of with a bare minimum of user input. I fired up the private internet browsing live option and was pretty excited that it started asking me questions about my wireless AP and then just did its thing. There are also some game demo options in the boot list but I'm less interested in those. My limited experience with the live options left me blown away. The hardware detection reminds me of how astonished by Knoppix initially. That my wireless chipset was not only detected but working (other than typing in a WEP key) from the get go. Usually this requires a lot of wangling with ndiswrapper or defaulting to an install of Linuxant before I'm doing anything but wishing that the wireless worked. I'm actually a little curious how that ended up working since I've never seen a distribution handle the wireless without at least stuffing a CD full of Windows drivers into its demand hole.
All of that said, if my initial impression were based on the installer instead of the live CD experience I probably would not have continued with Sabayon. The installer (based on Anaconda) crashed at a couple different crucial points, made me want to howl with frustration, and then just worked. I delete all existing partitions before the last install attempt so that may well be what cleared things up. I'm unsure of this though because I wasn't paying close enough attention the third time around and was pretty amazed that it just took off without further intervention from me. I guess the dev team is working on a package selection interface for future versions which would be nice as there is a lot of software installed in the current method.
The upside of this is that you're going to have pretty much any given piece of software that you might need and the downside to this only comes when you synch portage for the first time and find out that you've got a fearsome number of packages to emerge as well as overlays and whatnot to work around. If you're already familiar with Gentoo and how portage works then this is a pretty easy task to work albeit one that consumes some time. If you're new to the whole concept then get used to watching output stream down a terminal for what will seem like forever. I'm not sure how Kuroo will work under Sabayon when first fired up because I went directly for a terminal and started removing applications I didn't need.
I'm not sure how Sabayon would work out for a user unacquainted with Gentoo entirely. It was, if absolutely nothing else, a huge shortcut towards establishing a functioning Gentoo install without attending to the million and a half little quirks that come along with a fresh install even from Stage Three. It reminds me of how I felt the first time I used Libranet as the quick installer for Debian only without the brokeness inherent in having too many repositories and spending far too much time sorting out apt by messing around with cached packages and arguments to dpkg. They've definitely got something good going here and I'm really curious to see how it evolves over time. The live CD is pretty flawless and the installer can only get better.