Regarding an activator, does the C amp cap complex, bind to the coding strand, the template strand, or both?
Both. You should note that activation in this case involves recruitment of RNA polymerase to drive transcription, and that this process is irrelevant to DNA replication. B in the figure shows amino acid contacts (from CAP) with specific nucleotides in the DNA duplex.
DNA binding by CAP: structure of the CAP-DNA complex.
(A) Structure of CAP in complex with its consensus DNA site (PDB 1RUN) , showing primary- and secondary-kink sites. CAP is in cyan; DNA and cAMP bound to CAP are in red. The crystallization DNA fragment contained a single-phosphate gap between positions 9 and 10 of each DNA half-site (Fig 1b).
(B) Summary of CAP-DNA interactions. Shaded boxes indicate positions at which CAP exhibits strong sequence preferences [11,15,16,17]. The black circle, black rectangles, and black diamonds indicate, respectively, the two fold-symmetry axis, the primary-kink sites; and the secondary-kink sites. The black vertical lines indicate the positions of single-phosphate gaps present in the crystallization DNA fragment. The cyan ovals and cyan circles indicate, respectively, amino acid-base contacts and amino acid-phosphate contacts.
Figure from: Catherine L. Lawson, et al. 2004. Catabolite activator protein (CAP): DNA binding and transcription activation. Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol. 14:10.