Mac users have a bewildering array of utilities to help build web sites. XHTML and CSS editors. FTP file upload utilities. Graphic and design tools.
Some web site tools are so good that Mac users can’t live without them. Other tools make you wish for the good old days. Like yesterday.
If you’ve read Mac360 for any length of time you know we are seldom highly critical in our software reviews. When we offer a review, it’s usually on Mac software that we use ourselves.
Recently, Kate and I have been looking for new web site tools to enhance and improve our current work flow. We’re happy to report that we found a few, among them the delightful Xscope.
In typical Mac fashion, Xscope goes where no Mac software has gone before and provides designers and web site builders with a handy suite of essential tools. This is the kind of tool that sets the standard for usefulness.
For those Mac users interested in building web sites and connecting to remote servers, you know what a joy it is to find Mac software that does the job, goes beyond the job, and becomes a tool that’s pleasurable to use. The good ones are intuitive and don’t lack the basic features.
Unfortunately, there’s more sass than utility. Flux has a bewildering interface and an approach to web design that Think(s) Different, but doesn’t seem to be completely thought through.
Flux opens to, well, nothing. Select a new site, or a new template. The Site Manager is an attractive charcoal floating palette which lets you publish a site, inspect web pages, create new pages, add effects, create a new style sheet.
Simple enough, right? Opening a template page, as an example, brings up the Page Editor window which displays the selected web page. That’s where elegant ends. There’s tabs and buttons here, there, everywhere.
Flux has half a dozen Views which will toggle display of the various XHTML and CSS elements on a page. Images, Markers, Actions, Relations, Spans, Blocks, Frames, and so on.
The standard Mac toolbar features Edit mode, Preview, and Live Preview modes. The Edit mode features a text editor below the live images. Edit the code and click the Update button to apply changes. But why? Why not just allow changes without the extra step?
The Edit mode view of the web pages displays those awful Netscape Navigator type markers for every element of the page, from body to div. The left column features a list of styles from the CSS file, a Navigator button, which I like. Click on an element and it displays in the editing section below.
The Help screens are good, and the Screencasts are not only helpful, but necessary, as Flux takes a decidedly different approach to editing a web page. Though Flux will connect to your site, so does the FTP tool, Flow.
Flow is loaded with features, though lacking a couple that are deal breakers for me. There’s support for FTP, SFTP, .Mac, WebDAV and a local connection. File transfers were easy and smooth though missing a clearly visible progress bar.
Flow’s text editor is nice, though other FTP utilities have built-in editors, too. One feature I like is the ability to copy URL to remote files. Like Flux, Flow is attractive, highly Mac-like with scrumptious icons and buttons.
Remember, all that glitters isn’t gold. In addition to QuickLook to view text files, images, movies, and web pages, Flow also has the now standard Dropmarks, a droplet which lets you simply drop files to have them uploaded to a server automatically.
The Flow web site is attractive and modern, and features helpful Screencast and screen details. Nice, right? Now the fun begins. There’s no two column view for uploading and downloading files. At least I couldn’t find it, and that’s a deal breaker.
Sending and receiving files is really a left and right window pane proposition, ala Panic’s Transmit, or Yummy FTP or many other great Mac FTP utilities. Dragging and dropping from or to an open Finder window is sooooo Mac Classic, circa 1999, which is last century.
Both Flux and Flow are useful and attractive, but neither goes quite far enough to displace the likes of Coda, CSSEdit, Transmit, Yummy and others. At $69, Flux has plenty of competition. At $29, Flow is more competitive, but needs that twin window, upload/download feature.