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wickline (135)

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Journal of wickline (135)

Saturday August 03, 2002
12:21 PM

Editor holy war spills into unfamiliar terrain

[ #6876 ]

Sure, we're all sick of editor wars. We've got our favorite tools, and
we're so much more familiar with them that we're more efficient using
those tools than any others.

If you've recently purchased a T?iBook (and it sounds like a great many
of you have), then you may be finding that your favorite editor doesn't
work quite as handily in MacOS X as you'd like. It just doesn't fit in
with your newly-raised user-interface expectations and doesn't use the
strengths of the operating system to your advantage.

If you're feeling a wee bit dissatisfied, try BBEdit. It is IMHO (and
in many other folks' HOs) the best editor available on any platform,
and is only available for the Mac. It not only uses the MacOS to your
advantage (applescriptable, recordable, and attachable, quicktime
integration, services), but also integrates well with perl, python,
assorted shell scripting (and lets you set your default shell).

I don't get any kickback for convincing folks to use BBEdit. I just
think that it's so much better than the alternatives that those of
you who haven't tried it are really doing yourselves a disservice.

I had my employer buy me a mac so that I could use BBEdit. I told them
that they'd get more than their money back in my increased productivity
and I wasn't kidding.

A brief laundry list of some of the features:

    World-class support. You contact them, and you get answers
        back from the folks who actually write the program.
        They also have very high quality mailing lists with
        very active particpation from the developers.

    best perl syntax coloring I've ever seen
        (yes, I've seen vim and emacs)
        also does a zillion other languages, but I don't care
        so much about those

    perl scripts and filters handily integrated
    as well as pod-reading, perldoc lookup, syntax checking,
    running the current file

    PCRE find/replace including multi-file search/replace
    with file filters to indicate which files to process

    menu of your perl subs (menu does headers and named
        anchors in HTML documents, similar handy things
        in other languages)

    user-configurable key bindings

    convenient edit via ftp
        also integrates well with other ftp clients

    worksheets (hybrid of text document and unix shell)

    find-differences and selectively apply changes in
    either direction

    handy DTD- and context-sensitive HTML markup tools

    integration with ToolServer, SourceServer, CodeWarrior,
    Dreamweaver Absoft Fortran, Mac OS X Developer Help,
    your favorite shell, your favorite AppleScript editor,
    your favorite everything.

    So many useful features that every time I re-read the
    manual, I find a new one which will benefit me.

If the above doesn't at least pique your curiosity, then maybe BBEdit isn't
for you. If you're interested, you can get a free 'crippleware' version of
the editor (BBEdit Lite) to get a little taste. The real thing is *so* much
better though.

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
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  • I'd be much more interested if it weren't so horribly overpriced. Paying over $100 for an editor is just nuts. Not that my productivity isn't worth that, but that there are lower cost alternatives out there that do things just as well.

    If you have a G4 for example, you'll find that jEdit runs as fast as a native editor (assuming you've turned on hardware accel), and it's free (and Free) and has support for everything you've mentioned there.

    I also heard that it's rather focussed on HTML editing, and has HTM

    • if jEdit works for you, then stick with it :)

      $79 does round up to $100

      "just as well" is an opinion that I don't think either of us can
      stand behind. I haven't tried jEdit, and it doesn't sound like
      you have tried BBEdit.

      It does have one HTML menu. Frankly, I rarely use any of the menus
      as I find the keyboard faster (especially with user-configurable
      key bindings). If you're similarly keyboard-focused then I bet that
      you wouldn't notice the HTML menu.

      My intended audience was those folk
      • I'm never satisfied with my text editor ;-)

        I just reel at that price for a text editor, when the only thing that really goes against jEdit for me is the performance (being Java).

        The other one I'm trying (now I've managed to get it to compile) is xjed - but of course you need the X server running for it. At least its fast though, and has a pretty decent extension language (slang).

        • maybe this will help...

          The folks at BareBones have repeatedly said on-list that
          their license is intended to be per-user. So, if you would
          need to put this editor on your desktop, laptop, other older
          laptop, and work machine, you would buy one license provided
          only one instance of BBEdit would be in use at any given time.

          ... but it still isn't cheaper than free.

          • I don't mind non-free - I hate the free software party line. I go for software that doesn't suck. I actually own a license for TextPad [] because I think it's the best Windows text editor when you line up price, performance, features, and usability. But the price is a lot more reasonable.

            However I hadn't seen a $70 price before - everywhere I looked said over $100. So it may be worth a second look.

            The permanent HTML menus thing still sucks though ;-)

            Oh, and I also tried Pepper [], which is reasonably priced, a
            • > I go for software that doesn't suck


              > I hadn't seen a $70 price before

                  $79 to upgrade from (the free) BBEdit Lite
                  $79 is also their academic price, which seems redundant
                  $39 for AISS owners
                  $39 to upgrade from any earlier version of BBEdit

              Oh, I forgot a biggie in the feature list: Unicode

    • BBEdit is not overpriced. Maybe for you it is, but for those of us whose productivity is greatly improved by it, it is not.

      You can turn off the HTML menu/tools. Preferences->Tools, uncheck "BBEdit HTML Tools". BBEdit was the most popular editor on the Mac before most people had heard of HTML. :-) It integrated well with CodeWarrior before it had strong HTML features.

      It has very good HTML support, which I use somewhat, but you don't need to use it or have it there at all. Sometimes when I forget ex