New users will often try to get by with using their host’s cPanel software for file transfers and NotePad or TextEdit for editing the custom.css and custom_functions.php files. It’ll work, but it’s clunky and frustrating, at best.
There’s a better way. Two new articles just posted recommend free FTP and text editor programs for both the Mac and for Windows computers. These programs perform just as well as their paid counterparts and introduce a whole new level of productivity to the new Thesis user. The articles are:
For more than casual work with Thesis, you need to get separate programs for FTP file transfers and for editing your custom.css and custom_functions.php files. Trying to use your host’s cPanel or similar software for file transfers is an exercise in frustration, as is trying to change permissions. And TextEdit will try to change your files to the totally incompatible .rtf format if you don’t keep a close watch on it. Even the editor in the Thesis OpenHook plugin is pretty basic.
There’s an ongoing survey in the Announcements part of the DIYthemes Forums about which FTP programs and text editors people use. Based on the response of many Mac users, I feel confident recommending the following two free programs:
Cyberduck FTP program for file transfers
Cyberduck is a free open source FTP program for the Mac. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it doesn’t have all the features that paid programs have. Here are some of the things you will find most valuable for use with Thesis:
Browser looks like the Mac Finder
Drag-and-drop file transfer to and from your computer
Change file permissions (essential for Thesis upgrades)
Supports external editors to edit files directly on the server, an advanced feature you’ll appreciate later
This is a screenshot of the browser during a file transfer:
TextWrangler Text Editor
TextWrangler is a powerful text and programming editor from BareBones Software, the maker of the venerable BBEdit text editor. It does not have all the features of its big brother, but TextWrangler has more than enough power to edit Thesis files efficiently — and it’s free, while BBEdit costs $130!
There are too many features to list, but these are the ones you will most appreciate:
Syntax highlighting for the php and css files you will be editing
Line numbering and invisible character show helps you when you cut-and-paste and debug
Powerful general-purpose text editor with many text-transformation features
Built from the ground up as a Mac program, with Mac look-and-feel
Here’s a screenshot of the syntax coloring feature in action:
Of course, there are many other fine FTP programs and text editors out there, but they are not free! And for all but the most serious Thesis work, they will not do any better than Cyberduck and TextWrangler will.
I hope you will take the plunge soon and get you some good tools for your Thesis work — you’ll thank yourself! And I hope you found this information helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email using the “Contact” button!
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