Mac text editors are less than a dime a dozen. Some are free. Some, not so much. My favorite, most used text editor is one I love to hate. It does almost everything except suck.
It’s annoying and confusing but loaded with very usable features. I’ve been using it since the last century and still can’t replace it. The latest version just brought new tools worthy of an upgrade. Almost.
It Doesn’t Suck (seriously)
No other Mac text editor has the hubris (or feature list) of Bare Bones’ BBEdit. The official, registered tag line on BBEdit is It doesn’t suck.® See? That’s copping a ‘tude. That’s hubris.
Of course, with BBEdit’s feature list and many users, a little attitude can be excused.
The latest version brings BBEdit some much needed tools to help web programmers tackle up and coming technologies.
There’s new support for HTML5, CSS 3, a handy Projects function, a highly flexible auto completion of code function, multi-modal editing, modeless find and replace windows, a new scratch pad, a better autosave function, and a whole lot more.
Seriously. A lot more.
That brings me to the love hate relationship, and why it’s so difficult to switch completely from BBEdit to other flames, such as Coda or TextMate.
It’s The Interface, Stupid
Some liken BBEdit to a first love, or a first wife. Familiar, trustworthy, competent, capable, flexible, but not as visually stimulating as it was in the past. I won’t disagree.
For new users, BBEdit’s It’s In There Somewhere™ interface is an acquired taste. The Markup menu alone has more options than most Mac text editors.
BBEdit still contains its own offline code validator, faster than using W3C, but not always in agreement. There’s even support for browser-specific properties for Mozilla and WebKit. Edits can now be made in the error report window, which speeds up coding (of errors).
The handy side window pane (drawer) is great for managing many open documents.
Styled text can be saved as styled text in RTF format.
The multi-file search function has its own window and is modeless—open and search documents without having to close the search window.
There’s much to like. And some annoyances. Multiple live update window panes (ala Coda) would be a wonderful 21st century addition, and fit nicely with our ultra-wide-screen Macs. So would an interface that is more tabs oriented (or something that offers visual cues), rather than menus that seem to grow ever longer.
Is BBedit a worthy update? Fortunately, and sadly, yes. It’s doesn’t suck, there’s much to love, more features and functions than the Mac’s calculator can handle, and an awfully busy interface which requires a drill down mentality.