Crunch 2 quietly launched earlier this month. Why quietly? Well, I’m a single developer (as in the only one, not unmarried–SORRY LADIES AND GENTLEMEN), and I wanted to scale slowly at the start. Even though there was a beta period of 6 months, removing the “beta” from an app tends to get a greater influx of people, which means other glitches might pop up.
There’s also some great new features coming, and I plan on shouting louder and louder and jumping up and down more as each one arrives.
What’s Crunch? More importantly, what’s 2?
I built Crunch 1 because:
- As the lead developer of a local web design firm, I wanted to use Less, the CSS pre-processor for my style sheets.
- Our style sheets were often edited by non-developers (designers and project managers).
- Less, like many compilers & transpilers, assumes that the end user is comfortable using the command line and issuing terminal commands.
- Point #3 is demonstrably untrue. See point #2.
At the time, project managers were using Dreamweaver to edit styles. They’d open it, change something, save it, and move on. I knew using Less had to be equally simple. Open. Save. Close.
I begged a designer in the office to design a UI for me (Remember “Matt & Matt made this”? Well, the other guy was Matt, and not me, who is Matt.), and I put together a simple app and released it.
Several years passed…
Over time, I saw that some things in Crunch could be improved, including:
- There were now better platforms for HTML-on-desktop than the one Adobe had mostly abandoned: Adobe AIR.
- Crunch was great at editing Less and CSS, but it was a pain in the ass to switch to another editor to edit the other text files for your website.
- If you didn’t edit Less, Crunch wasn’t for you.
- Other apps had “watch” features that Crunch 1 didn’t.
My friend Michael liked and used Crunch, but was basically only using it to compile and not edit. I told him that was something we could fix, so we had a number of design sessions to figure out how to make Crunch and even more awesome application. Then, for the next year, I worked on building it. (To be honest, I underestimated how long that would take me.)
- Crunch 2 does all the things that Crunch 1 was, and simply does it much faster and much better. And all of the features Crunch 1 had are still free.
- Upgrading to Crunch 2 Pro gives you not only editing / code-coloring support for almost every text file you could think of, but adds new compilers! Crunch 2 Pro launched with Stylus, CoffeeScript, Jade, Markdown, LiveScript, and that list will keep growing. Crunch isn’t just for Less users anymore.
- On top of that, Crunch 2 adds a ton of new features (this is probably why it took me a year), like code auto-completion and a whole new compiler project mode called “Crunchable View”, which shows you just the files in your Less or Stylus project. And there’s more!
The Crunch 2 Advantage
The advantage of having compiling integrated into your editor is that compiling issues are very quick to debug. You no longer have to switch to a command line, build, find the file and line of the error, and then go and find that file and line in your text editor. With Crunch 2, you can jump straight from an error to the exact spot it occurred.
Because edit-only and compile-only apps don’t link to each other, none of them can do what Crunch 2 can do. (And as cheaply.)
And no build system is as easy to set up as Crunch 2 is. How do you set up your builds?
Open. Save. Close.