I’m by no means a coder. I know enough HTML and CSS to get by running my personal website — and writing here. But starting up a new web project or even making changes to a site’s styles can daunt me, especially if it’s been a few weeks since I touched any raw code. Because I code so infrequently, I often forget certain language-specific markup or syntax, which causes me problems and I end up searching and scouring the entire internet to find simple solutions to problems I know I’ve solved in the past. Learning brand new techniques is great, but what about brushing up on things you’ve simply forgotten?
I encountered this problem last week when I was looking for information about media queries. I wanted to target just the iPhone and not the iPad. I wished there was a tool I could use to search all the HTML and CSS documentation in a great interface. If there was, it might be possible for me to search within it for “media queries” and absorb a wealth of knowledge at my own pace. Right? Well, turns out, there is an app for that.
Dubbed as a snippet manager and documentation browser, Dash for Mac looks like an app which has almost been lost in the sea of the Mac App Store. I’d certainly never seen it before. This is its UI:
Dash can access and import the following libraries of documentation from within its preferences window:
This is a wealth of knowledge. It’s almost certainly got you covered. On top of all these supported formats, it’s possible to import your own documentation too — there are instructions for doing so located on the Dash website.
In my time with the app, I’ve remembered some CSS techniques which had slipped my mind and I’ve enjoyed doing so. I wish I’d known about Dash earlier.
Heard about a neat CSS feature which sounds super cool? Instead of heading over to your browser to search for it, give Dash a try instead. I certainly will from now on. And I have a feeling I’m going to thoroughly enjoy it. Feeling lost in a sea of spammy, ad-ridden and irrelevant search results is awful. Dash cuts straight to the documentation and does its stuff in a way which feels natural to me.
Browsing documentation is only useful whilst you’re not coding. Code snippets are useful whilst you’re coding, too. They’re baked into Dash just like documentation support. It’s easy to add and manage code snippets. Searching for them is simple, too. Snippets can sync using Dropbox, so if you use Dash on multiple machines (or your Mac has an accident), you’re not in dire straits. Some of the default snippets are worth checking out, too (I’m looking at you, css-test-page). I don’t plan to use Dash’s snippet feature too heavily, because I’m an avid TextExpender user. But as I explore Dash more, I’ll certainly see what the benefits of using Dash’s own snippet solution are.
Will Dash cure my avid fear of CSS? We’re yet to see. But so far, first impressions are really great. I enjoy using this tool. I think it’ll become a pillar in my sparse coding workflow.
Dash is available for free on the Mac App Store — with an in-app purchase to help support development. If you enjoy apps like these which save you time and effort, showing your support is greatly appreciated by the developers.