Why is Coda Attractive?

What is it about the combination of doc & database that matters to our everyday experience?

In many cases, it doesn’t matter. Some solutions begin and end in a data grid. Others start and end with words. This is typically the way most workers think about problems. Spreadsheets and documents are each used in isolation, likely because we asked our workers to be specialists. You don’t scale with generalists.

So perhaps part of the answer depends on the work climate and what we’ve asked workers to do.

In a general sense…

In almost every workflow process that involves some degree of decision-making, data and words in context matter. The words must be in the correct order to create a sense-making outcome. The data supports sense-making activities if it is adjacent to the words being developed. And sandwiched in between is the tasty filling - it’s like grace notes in music. They don’t interrupt the flow of the melody; they support the bridge between melodic changes.

The “filling” is the visuals. Transforming data to words is vastly easier when the data is present as the narrative is crafted. However, data-to-visuals-to-words allows us to use pictures (worth a thousand words) to get to the point rapidly. Coda, of course, creates this magic, and the outcome is often hyper-productivity. Many visuals make the cut to join the words in the final assessment. I don’t think workers contemplate the alchemy of information enough to realize they should have paid more attention in chemistry class.

In a specific sense…

I typically engineer systems that involve structured and unstructured information. Data is structured; text is not. But these worlds intersect more often than not, especially for me.

I look for tools that blend nicely with these two worlds. In 2017 I hoped that Airtable might become an ideal platform for building solutions at the nexus of text and data. Alas, the team at Airtable didn’t see the world of information solutions through the rose-coloured lenses I was wearing.

Coda did.

So, in my biased selfishness, Coda stuck. Almost five years later and I’m still happily stuck on Coda. But why?