There’s no doubt about it. I like BBEdit and I use BBEdit. It’s come from a slick but simple text editor to a clean text editor that edits any kind of text, and does so much easier than Command Line Interface tools (CLI) such as Pico or vi or Emacs.
Is BBEdit 8.0 a Swiss Army Knife of editing tools? It’s beginning to look that way.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s not much to not like about BBEdit 8.0. It handles HTML with ease; even XHTML versions, WML versions and more. Working in PHP? BBEdit’s a lifesaver and timesaver. BBEdit seamlessly handles DOS/Windows text files, Unix text files, Mac text files, and Unicode (both UTF-8 and UTF-16).
BBEdit’s “shell worksheets” provide Mac OS X with Unix CLI power but with the Mac GUI. Built in to BBEdit 8.0 is the ability to handle AppleScript, Perl, PHP, HTML, Python, and any kind of Unix scripting.
BBEdit integrates well with Apple Xcode, CodeWarrior, Projector, even MPW.
Need to upload files to a main server? BBEdit incorporates FTP and Secure FTP so you can manage your files on a remote server. It’s all right there in the main package that tens of thousands of Mac text edit users call “the best text editor on the planet.”
There’s much to like about BBEdit 8.0 (which replaces the barely year-old 7.x version). There’s also a blemish or two.
The new version includes a nifty “Text Factory” feature. This I like. It automates multiple text transformations to span multiple files or folders; without programming or scripting. Click, click, set it up. Click. It makes changes across files and folders without the tedium usually associated with such needs.
That alone is worth the $49 upgrade cost for many BBEdit users.
One of the more popular HTML editors around is Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. It’s well integrated into Cold Fusion (Macromedia’s server application environment) and handles large sites quite well. But Dreamweaver doesn’t handle “tweaking” too well. BBEdit does and comes with full integration into Dreamweaver.
BareBones says version 8.0 comes with over 100 new features, more HTML markup tool enhancements, more Unicode support, the new Documents Drawer, and the highly-touted Text Factory feature.
Isn’t that plenty for a $49 upgrade (assumes you have version 7.x)?
Yes and no. It was just a year or so ago that I upgraded to version 7.x. And that’s my biggest peeve about version 8.0. In the interim of version 7.x we only reached 7.1.4. Not 7.2, or 7.5, or 7.8. This is a big jump to version 8.0. It means more money to BareBones and less money for you.
BBEdit has long been considered a good reason to own a Mac. Many Unix developers have PowerBooks running Mac OS X and use BBEdit as one of the editors in their arsenal of tools.
Still, it’s more money. And many more features. Of course, it’s easy to argue that Text Factory alone is worth the upgrade cost. Or, the Documents Drawer and Navigation Bar make BBEdit worth the price of admission. I could also argue that BareBones deserves to make money from the product so they can continue to improve features.
I’m tired of paying and paying, I guess. Tired enough NOT to pay for this upgrade to version 8.0? Try the Text Factory once and you’ll spend the $50 upgrade fee.
One final note: BBEdit must be imposing to the newbie looking for a good text editor. Frankly, I was overwhelmed when starting in on version 6.x. The newbie coming on board at version 8.0 is bound to encounter “feature-itis.” More features than you know what to do with.
It would appear that BareBones knows this, hence their introduction of TextWrangler a couple of years ago. It’s a nice, simple text editor which surpasses Apple’s own SimpleText and TextEdit (for Mac OS X) but doesn’t come with the complexity of BBEdit.
Is there a flaw in BBEdit 8.0?
It’s working very hard to be all things to all people and it’s now quite complex. And pricey. If you’re on the keyboard all day and text is the world in which you live, OK. It’s worth it. If you do text from time to time, there are other, less complex options which work well. Maybe the biggest “gotcha” is the BareBones requirement that BBEdit only be installed on Mac OS X 10.3.5. It’s not just Panther, it’s the latest release of Panther.
Hopefully, future upgrades and tweaks of BBEdit will continue to work on Panther. Believe it or not, BareBones, Many Mac users get along just fine in Jaguar, and Panther version 10.3.0 to 10.3.4.
Click Here for a quick review of other Mac text editors.