Espresso for web developers

MacRabbit, makers of the best CSS editor bar none, today announced Espresso, an most-in-one solution for web development. Espresso features CSSEdit’s excellent CSS editing and live previewing, but expands it to HTML, XML, and Javascript along with remote synchronization, spell-checking for non-code text (a la TextMate), code folding, a sleek find/replace interface with color-coded regular expressions, and an intriguing combination of source list and tabs for navigating your files.

All of which is pretty cool, but isn’t what has me jazzed about Espresso. To be honest, the screenshots make it look like an underpowered Coda (it certainly doesn’t include reference books or a built-in terminal, both of which I’ve found extremely handy when using Coda), although the text editing capabilities may well be superior (I know for a fact the CSS editing will be exactly what I need).

What excites me about Espresso is not that it’s a direct all-in-one competitor to Coda; what makes it sound fantastic to me is its extensibility.

Espresso offers “Sugars”, a plugin interface using XML files. Although it remains to be seen how much flexibility is offered by the Sugar API, extensibility out of the box means that Espresso will be offering my favorite parts of all-in-one editing (synchronization and HTML/CSS in an integrated interface) along with the customization that up until now I’ve only associated with TextMate. Sure, Sugars probably won’t be as powerful as TextMate bundles, but get this:

Snippets in Espresso can be much more than quick pieces of text to insert into your document. Tab stops, placeholders, conditional expansions: it’s all there.

The thought of a program that can deliver on TextMate’s extensibility along with the all-in-one sweetness that more recently prompted me to dabble in Coda has me tingling with anticipation. Perhaps Espresso will not achieve the tantalizing promise of its screenshots and marketing speak, but given that I’ve bought every MacRabbit app I’ve tried within five minutes of downloading the demo, I think there’s cause for excitement on the part of users and alarm on the part of text editor developers.

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