Smultron vs Coda

Web Workflow

All web developers seem to have a slightly different workflow. Last week I set out on a journey to increase my web development productivity. I’m currently using OS X Leopard 10.5.4 on a iMac 2.1GHz G5.


Coda ScreenshotCoda‘, made by panic, is a ftp+text editor all in one. At first glance it appeared to be everything that I needed. It includes a built ftp client, css editor, subversion, Subetha Engine (which allows multiple people to edit a file collaboratively), and of course the editor. So I downloaded the 2 week trial and much to my surprise I was very impressed. The user interface is very nice and intuitive. New windows are opened up in tabs along the top (which I like but know others who hate that). Like most of these programs your remote/local file structure appears on the left side and the editor on the right. I got used to it very quickly. In fact my trial ran out 2 days ago and I have been struggling without it. The only downside is the $79 price tag, which is not a whole lot if this is what you do all day. I am a huge fan of open source, so I ventured off to find a free alternative. This is when I stumbled across the Smultron + Cyberduck marriage.

Note: If you’ve been trying to use coda with a mediatemple server and having problems with files not saving, make sure you’re using sftp. I’m not sure why this makes a difference but it it did for me. Files should upload quickly once you switch it over.

Coda Pros:

  • Well designed interface
  • Very intuitive
  • ftp built in
  • Collaborative editing of files

Coda Cons:

  • High price tag
  • Not as feature rich as something like ‘Textmate‘ for in depth web development

Smultron + Cyberduck

Smultron ScreenshotSmultron, made by Peter Borg, is a very simple but well designed text editor. It doesn’t have built in ftp so you will still need to use Cyberduck. I’m assuming most of you reading this will be well aware of Cyberduck, the free open source ftp client. Smultron fully integrates with Cyberduck allowing one click editing of any of your remote files from Cyberduck. Just use Cmd+s to save and your files are uploaded straight to your server. These two programs behave similar to Coda in this sense. The only downside being that you will have to use two programs to accomplish the same task. Smultron is a fairly basic editor and definitely doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles Coda has, but for the average coder it will do just fine. Remember this is the free solution so if your willing to¬† put up with this you can pocket that $79 and take your wife/girlfriend out for dinner.

Smultron Cyberduck Pros:

  • Free
  • Open Source
  • Easy to use
  • Does what its supposed to best, edit text

Sumltron Cyberduck Cons:

  • File structure does not appear within Smultron
  • Cyberduck is prone to crashing (at least on my computer)


Well I’ve been fairly even with both sides at the moment. I’d have to say that if money wasn’t an issue I would definitely go with Coda. It’s ease of use and the fact that it’s an all in one package is very attractive. I like seeing my file structure along the left hand side, something that Smultron lacks (you have to go to Cyberduck to see this). Having said that I will continue to use my Smultron Cyberduck combo until I can convince my wife to skip a date night and put the money towards Coda.

What does your workflow look like? Let me know if you have better solutions. I would love to hear from people who have used Textmate, CSSedit, TextWrangler, or any other OS X friendly text editors or ftp clients.

Nick Verwymeren+

9 thoughts on “Smultron vs Coda

  1. ms

    I always see cyberduck recommended, but I think it’s kind of annoying. I prefer Filezilla, the mac version is ok, though the interface looks ported. (love it on windows) I like being able to see local and server in split screen.

    Smultron doesn’t get enough credit anywhere. SFTP is probably used for your security on Media Temple. Actually using FTP is kind of dumb consdiering it’s not secure and you can be monitored. Most people like security rather than insecurity.

    I think properly extended smultron could probably do everything the popular ones could do. I’m trying to integrate snippets in my workflow now.

    Another thing to know, is you can use smultron to do live editing along with Aptana IDE and it will save live. The new smultron also offers a webkit preview, though I haven’t explored it much.

  2. ocdude

    I have found that the cyberduck+smultron combination is just about perfect for my needs.

    Most of what I’ve been doing has been in PHP, with supplimentary CSS and a bit of javascript. Smultron has been key to everything I’ve coded in the past few months. Previously I had been using TextWrangler on mac, or GEdit on my linux box, but I like Smultron a lot more.

    I tried out Coda, but it really seemed overkill for what I was working on at the time. However, the two killer features of Coda for me were the subversion integration and the built in book library. Having in the IDE was a godsend.

  3. Nick

    I also liked in the IDE, but it almost seemed quicker to to search online since I usually have open in a browser anyways.

  4. Alessandro

    I’m using Coda, but I use Cyberduck for SFTP (because the structure of folders in my remote server is slightly different that the structure I’ve got in my PC).

    I mostly do PHP and JavaScript programming. I hate Smultron: the interface is ugly, code coloring doesn’t work well, there isn’t a “code navigator”, etc etc…
    True, it’s free… But Coda is so much useful that it is not expensive at all!

  5. nickv Post author

    Yeah smultron definitely has it’s downsides. The code colouring was a little jarring going from Coda to Smultron. After a few weeks of use I didn’t notice the difference though.

    Update: Coda now costs $99. For the average hobby programmer this may be a bit expensive, but it’s still good value for the money.

  6. Rosie


    Nice article…. pretty much in the same position. Use Smultron although dribbling at thought of Coda. I use CuteFTP which works nicely with Smultron for me so I am not that worried about the lack of intergration.
    One day I might get Coda……

  7. brent erb

    I’ve recently switched to the Mac OS X 10.5.8. Filezilla and Smultron are my first choices for managing my websites, though I can’t seem to get them to communicate on my new system.

    I’ve selected ‘Use custom editor:’ “/Applications/” to no avail. When I try to open a file to edit, it opens in Safari, ignoring my Smultron command.

    Any suggestions?

  8. mike

    For big projects, I use NetBeans. Auto code completion, code colouring, integrated PHP documentation, integrated ftp client (have to manually update the files though, which might be a good idea sometimes ;))
    It’s written in Java so it is a bit heavy, but anyway, I love it !

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