Espresso 1.0 has officially been released for general consumption, and I’m extremely proud to announce that TEA for Espresso (coded by yours truly) is bundled with the application! Espresso is a text editor aimed firmly (for the moment) at the web editing crowd, and offers code folding, a powerful code navigator, FTP synching, Textmate-style text snippets (with tab stops and all that jazz), and an extensible underbelly for extending the program. It’s pretty sweet.
That said, I have to admit that my feelings about this release are mixed, and I don’t think that most people who live in their text editor (including myself) will be able to switch to Espresso full time just yet. I’m beginning to think that this may just be how text editors work. I was completely underwhelmed by Coda when it first came out, too, but after Coda 1.5 I tried it again and started migrating projects to it, and as of 1.6 I’m using Coda full time. While some people will find Espresso 1.0’s friendly and simple editing just what the doctor ordered, I suspect that its wider appeal will not be truly realized for another few point releases.
None of which, of course, answers the question, “Is Espresso for me?” Obviously, you won’t know until you try it out for yourself, but for those of you who like to have other people do the initial dirty work, here’s what Espresso is, what it is not, and where it’s probably headed in the near future. (Please note that I don’t have any insider info; I have been participating in the betas since slightly before they went public, however, and would like to think that my guesses are fairly educated.)
In many ways, to understand Espresso you first need to understand what it is not.
Espresso is not CSSEdit
Before you so much as think about downloading Espresso, you need to be clear on one thing: Espresso is not CSSEdit. Yes, you can edit CSS files with Espresso, but it does not offer visual CSS editing, and X-ray and the inspector are nowhere to be seen. You can override stylesheets, CSSEdit groups are supported in the code navigator, and the CSS text editing is very similar, but if you are expecting CSSEdit plus the ability to edit HTML you will be sorely disappointed.
I’m going to make a prediction here (and yes, it’s just a prediction; I have no insider knowledge): I think that Espresso will get X-Ray in a point release. I think it will probably get the inspector and the ability to jump straight from the Inspector to a style in the CSS. But I don’t think it will ever get CSSEdit’s visual editors. Why?
Because competing with yourself is stupid.
CSSEdit is the best way to edit CSS (right now, anyway). Espresso is shooting to be the best way to edit code, no matter what the language.
Perhaps someday MacRabbit might want to merge CSSEdit into Espresso and retire their original flagship product, but don’t hold your breath.
All that said, I’m as baffled as the next guy why you can’t right click a CSS file in Espresso and choose “Edit in CSSEdit”.
Espresso is not Coda
Particularly when MacRabbit announced Espresso and showed off screenshots of an integrated FTP editor I think a lot of people assumed that Espresso was setting out to be an all-in-one editor to challenge Coda (albeit much more slimmed-down). “Hooray!” cried the masses. “Perhaps at last we’ll have an all-in-one solution with a decent text editor at its core!”
The masses were a ways off the mark. Coda attempts to give you every tool you’re likely to need to edit code. Espresso tries to give you a fantastic environment for editing web pages with an extensible Sugar architecture to allow you to expand the editor to other languages. Notice how different those two sentences are.
If you love Coda because of the diverse tools that it gives you, you’ll probably be underwhelmed by Espresso. However, if the shortcomings of Coda’s text editor rub you the wrong way and you don’t very often find yourself using SVN, books, the terminal, etc., then Espresso might be a wonderful solution to your needs.
Espresso 1.0 is a foundation
In many ways, Espresso is building off the legacy of Textmate, if you can say that a piece of software that’s still nominally developed and actively used has a legacy. Text snippets with tab stops and mirrored segments directly mimic Textmate’s snippets and the Sugar syntax system is fairly Textmate-y, as well. Where Textmate provides extreme flexibility with a correspondingly steep learning curve, Espresso attempts to provide some of the core aspects of that flexibility but focus on providing users with a more polished, CSSEdit-ish application.
Espresso 1.0 is a foundation, a solid feature-set that shows the core capabilities of the program and through its scope and design may give you a good idea of what directions the application is likely to grow. When I first read MacRabbit’s descriptions of Espresso I immediately began imagining the possibilities, and every time I launch it I find myself imagining possibilities again. It has the potential to grow into an application almost as flexible as Textmate, but easier to extend and with a friendlier interface that also happens to offer the core features needed for web development.
Aside from its potential, Espresso 1.0 is a powerful text editor that’s overly focused on web design with a few rough edges tucked away beneath the overall gleam of its interface. It’s better than most of the web-centric offerings, but may not be quite good enough to lure you away from heavy hitters like Textmate, Coda, or the venerable BBEdit.
If you’re looking for a simple yet powerful web-oriented text editor with a lot of flexibility and promise for growth, I highly recommend giving Espresso a download. As long as you don’t go in expecting CSSEdit, Coda, or something that will turn into a magical unicorn and solve all your problems you should be pretty pleased with what you find, even if, like myself, you’re unlikely to be able to switch to using it full time for your day job until the application is a bit more mature.
That’s nice; what about TEA?
I haven’t been talking about TEA for Espresso much because although I’m ecstatic that it was one of the few Sugars chosen to be included in the application, it frankly wasn’t ready. I still consider it in beta even if Espresso is out, and because I didn’t know that it was going to be bundled in the application until the morning the app was released, some of its better features are broken. Once I’ve got it in a more mature place, I’ll definitely brag about it a bit more and offer some examples of how to use it; for now, please give me a shout in the Espresso forums if you have any feedback, requests, or bug reports.