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Venerable Text Editor BBEdit is 20 Years Old

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Apr 12, 2001
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BBEdit, a text and code editor for thousands of Mac users for years, turns 20 today. Macworld Editorial Director Jason Snell published a long commemorative about his love for the software -- written in BBEdit, of course:
All of this would be an insane nostalgia trip were it not for this amazing fact: BBEdit's still around. And not just as a relic of the old times, but as a modern, relevant text editor. Almost none of the other apps I used in 1997 are on my hard drive today. (I count two others: DragThing and Default Folder). BBEdit has grown and adapted over time, going from free to commercial, spawning a free "Lite" version that eventually became the free text editor TextWrangler. Now at version 10.1.1, BBEdit is sold in the Mac App Store for $50, much cheaper than it was during the early commercial era.

[...]

So on the occasion of BBEdit's 20th birthday, here's a toast to the distinguished old gentleman text-editor. I'd raise a glass, but since BBEdit's still a year shy of legal drinking age in most states, I'll say only this: I wrote this article in BBEdit, and I'll be writing the next one in BBEdit, too. Nostalgia is great, but this app doesn't belong in a museum--it belongs in my Dock. That's the biggest endorsement I can give.
The software can be used for editing, searching, and manipulating text, code, and HTML/XML markup, among many other features. BBEdit launched at 2:19AM on Sunday, April 12, 1992 and is currently at version 10.1.1.

It is available via the Mac App Store for $49.99 [Direct Link] or via the Bare Bones Software website for the same price, with an option for a free trial as well.

Article Link: Venerable Text Editor BBEdit is 20 Years Old
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,499
5,364
Canada
It also looks like a 20 year old application too... it used to be great but other text editors have passed by BBEdit in both functionality and performance.

( I used BBedit until version 10 ).
 
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innominato5090

macrumors 6502
Sep 4, 2009
437
20
It's not the prettiest, but it is by far the fastest and most stable text editor out there. It allows me to open text file over 13MB in a breeze! tens of millions chars appear instantly :)
 
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DrFu79

macrumors member
Apr 25, 2008
70
7
Norway
Wow. Played around with the first version on an SE/30 in the early 90s. What a great machine that was.
Think about what the PC landscape was 20 years ago. Now even Steve Jobs isn't around anymore, and Apple is on the way into the stratosphere.
Makes me pretty nostalgic for a 33 year old :eek:
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
Great app; I’ve used it for well over 10 years, mainly (at the moment) for HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript work. I’ve made do with BBEDit Lite... a.k.a. TextWrangler... but I think I’m going to spring for the full BBEDit so I can make text factories.

Great app for cleaning up garbagical text from client emails and Word docs (full of odd spacing, inconsistencies, and control chars) so I can code it into web pages.

I also like “convert to ASCII” for getting text ready for non-Unicode legacy systems.
 
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grizfan

macrumors member
Feb 10, 2012
86
4
Boise, ID
I'm a recent switcher from Windows, and I was glad to find BBEdit for my HTML/CSS work. I tried Coda, Aptana, TextMate, and Expresso. By day I use Dreamweaver on Windows 7 at work, but only for the code editing. I first started coding using Homesite, so I was looking forward to trying BBEdit.

For my purposes, it is the best HTML editor available on the Mac, especially for the price. For HTML coding, it brings me back to the glory days of Homesite.

So, congrats to BBEdit and thanks for making such a great program for 50 bucks!
 
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geoelectric

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2008
326
14
I used it till I got TextWrangler on a MacRumors special. Still installed of course.

I must have used it since it was under 3. :D

Rocketman

So...you used the pay version until you got the free version in a bundle?

TextWrangler == BBEdit - some features.
 
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splitpea

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2009
1,011
241
Among the starlings
Great app for cleaning up garbagical text from client emails and Word docs (full of odd spacing, inconsistencies, and control chars) so I can code it into web pages.

I also like “convert to ASCII” for getting text ready for non-Unicode legacy systems.

This. Also have trouble switching to other text editors because it's tough to get used to diff't keyboard shortcuts, and the drawer interface for multiple docs is very efficient (when you've got 27 of them open and they wouldn't fit in tabs across the top of your screen).

I'm a recent switcher from Windows, and I was glad to find BBEdit for my HTML/CSS work. I tried Coda, Aptana, TextMate, and Expresso. By day I use Dreamweaver on Windows 7 at work, but only for the code editing. I first started coding using Homesite, so I was looking forward to trying BBEdit.

For my purposes, it is the best HTML editor available on the Mac, especially for the price. For HTML coding, it brings me back to the glory days of Homesite.

Still haven't found a free Windows text editor I like as much as TextWrangler. TBH, the killer feature I can't do without (besides "conver tot ASCII") is the big spacious search/replace interface with grep syntax (and the ability to use it for multi-file searches). Most text editors' search boxes are tiny and cramped.
 
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C. Alan

macrumors 6502
Jan 23, 2009
310
5
Just out of curiosity, I looked up the history of VI, and it was first coded in 1976, making it the grand daddy of most text editors at the ripe old age of 36.
 
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benptooey

macrumors newbie
May 12, 2011
4
0
It also looks like a 20 year old application too... it used to be great but other text editors have passed by BBEdit in both functionality and performance.

Saw this same sort of comment over at The Verge, so please excuse the duplicate response if you're reading over there as well.

I've been a BBEdit fan for a long time, happy birthday, and long may it continue. It's still, in my opinion, the most powerful native Mac OS X tool for dealing with text.

I've heard this argument before, that the interface is dated, but I'm not sure exactly what these detractors would change to make it look more fresh. Granted, the icon is just a glossed over version of the same one it has had since the beginning, and thus has more than a sniff of classic Mac OS about it, but the actual guts of the interface look and function in every way a modern Mac OS X should do. In addition, there are toggle switches for just about any extraneous interface element.

I'm genuinely curious to hear a non-snarky response. What would you change precisely, while still retaining the same levels of information and economy of space?
 
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Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,713
2,878
The soggy side of the Pacific NW
I used their free TextWrangler for a long time, after abandoning SubEthaEdit. TextWrangler has been so useful to me I eventually decided to purchase a BBEdit license to support the company.

Being eligible for the educational version made that an easier decision... don't think I'd have paid $100+, no matter how much I liked their products! :D
 
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shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,326
1,514
Saw this same sort of comment over at The Verge, so please excuse the duplicate response if you're reading over there as well.

I've been a BBEdit fan for a long time, happy birthday, and long may it continue. It's still, in my opinion, the most powerful native Mac OS X tool for dealing with text.

I've heard this argument before, that the interface is dated, but I'm not sure exactly what these detractors would change to make it look more fresh. Granted, the icon is just a glossed over version of the same one it has had since the beginning, and thus has more than a sniff of classic Mac OS about it, but the actual guts of the interface look and function in every way a modern Mac OS X should do. In addition, there are toggle switches for just about any extraneous interface element.

I'm genuinely curious to hear a non-snarky response. What would you change precisely, while still retaining the same levels of information and economy of space?

I'm also wondering what other text editors have surpassed it in terms of functionality and performance.

I own Textmate as well, and it hangs when opening very large files that are handled with ease by BBEdit. Any time I need the text transformation functionality, I use BBEdit. The only thing I like better in Textmate is the code completion.
 
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Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,499
5,364
Canada
I don't read the Verge, so it wasn't me :)

A few things I'd change:

* faster start up ( on my i7 it takes too long )
* macro recording ( native, not automator / applescript )
* auto completion of HTML elements. BBEdit boasts its an HTML editor, but yet upon <span> </ ... bbedit won't automatically close the span element. Its not difficult to do.
* modernize the GUI

There are things I like about BBEdit - i.e., zap gremlins, file comparison. However compared to other text editors, it seems dated, and slow.


Saw this same sort of comment over at The Verge, so please excuse the duplicate response if you're reading over there as well.

I've been a BBEdit fan for a long time, happy birthday, and long may it continue. It's still, in my opinion, the most powerful native Mac OS X tool for dealing with text.

I've heard this argument before, that the interface is dated, but I'm not sure exactly what these detractors would change to make it look more fresh. Granted, the icon is just a glossed over version of the same one it has had since the beginning, and thus has more than a sniff of classic Mac OS about it, but the actual guts of the interface look and function in every way a modern Mac OS X should do. In addition, there are toggle switches for just about any extraneous interface element.

I'm genuinely curious to hear a non-snarky response. What would you change precisely, while still retaining the same levels of information and economy of space?
 
Comment

iindigo

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
772
42
San Francisco, CA
One of the main things that keeps me using TextMate or Sublime Text over BBEdit/TextWrangler is more extensive and robust syntax coloration. When you're regularly shuffling between 5+ file types while working on a project (like a Ruby on Rails project, for instance), syntax coloration is nothing short of essential lest it all become a giant blur.

And yes, certain UI elements are dated. I see the appeal of not fixing what isn't broken, but at the very least a toggle between modern and classic UI modes would be very welcome.

That said, it's solid as a rock and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more stable UI-based code editor on any platform.
 
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benptooey

macrumors newbie
May 12, 2011
4
0
I don't read the Verge, so it wasn't me :)

A few things I'd change:

* faster start up ( on my i7 it takes too long )
* macro recording ( native, not automator / applescript )
* auto completion of HTML elements. BBEdit boasts its an HTML editor, but yet upon <span> </ ... bbedit won't automatically close the span element. Its not difficult to do.
* modernize the GUI

There are things I like about BBEdit - i.e., zap gremlins, file comparison. However compared to other text editors, it seems dated, and slow.

Yeah, slow startup I'll give you, on an HDD system anyway. With SSD it isn't an issue.

No macro recording, but is massively scriptable as you say.

It can auto-complete HTML tags - Markup/Close Current Tag, which can be set to a hotkey in the preferences. Not automatic though.

These are issues of function though. Can you expand on "modernize the GUI"?
 
Comment

blipmusic

macrumors regular
Feb 4, 2011
244
18
Would any of you BBEdit veterans say that BBEdit is still (?) the goto editor for "text crunching"?

A few years ago I needed to open some 430+ files simultaneously to execute a few simple sortings, no of occurrences of specific patterns etc as a batch operation and then have it spit out a results file. On a colleague's computer BBEdit opened all files without a hinch whereas TextMate on mine choked on them (granted, the files were in Japanese and TextMate's support wasn't/isn't the best...). Having a list representing that many open files, rather than tabs, and the text factories felt like nice additions as well.

I realize this is almost certainly possible via the terminal or other tools but I wanted visual confirmation while working (neither am I good at working with the terminal, but I'll learn - don't really want to look into vi/m atm either).

My current text editor of choice is Sublime Text, which I like to write and do some light coding in but there's this voice in the back of my head nagging me about the issue above and I might need it again in the near future. It's not really questioning whether Sublime Text is "powerful enough" or not (why wouldn't it be?) but rather how it's all achieved and presented between the two editors.

Oh well, BBEdit is only the equivalent of $50 nowadays so I might try anyway later on.
 
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benptooey

macrumors newbie
May 12, 2011
4
0
Would any of you BBEdit veterans say that BBEdit is still (?) the goto editor for "text crunching"?

A few years ago I needed to open some 430+ files simultaneously to execute a few simple sortings, no of occurrences of specific patterns etc as a batch operation and then have it spit out a results file. On a colleague's computer BBEdit opened all files without a hinch whereas TextMate on mine choked on them (granted, the files were in Japanese and TextMate's support wasn't/isn't the best...). Having a list representing that many open files, rather than tabs, and the text factories felt like nice additions as well.

I realize this is almost certainly possible via the terminal or other tools but I wanted visual confirmation while working (neither am I good at working with the terminal, but I'll learn - don't really want to look into vi/m atm either).

My current text editor of choice is Sublime Text, which I like to write and do some light coding in but there's this voice in the back of my head nagging me about the issue above and I might need it again in the near future. It's not really questioning whether Sublime Text is "powerful enough" or not (why wouldn't it be?) but rather how it's all achieved and presented between the two editors.

Oh well, BBEdit is only the equivalent of $50 nowadays so I might try anyway later on.

Its Text Factories are good for this sort of thing. I use them for cleaning up log files, pulling specific data out, that kind of thing. A Text Factory is sort of like a rule in Mail where you can layer various processes on top of each other and run them as a batch. Simple things like changing case, adding removing suffixes, sorting, find and replace, selecting just lines containing a certain string, all the way up to serious power tools like running UNIX scripts or AppleScript on the input.

Here's what the Text Factories menu looks like:

http://cl.ly/Fni0
 
Comment

blipmusic

macrumors regular
Feb 4, 2011
244
18
Its Text Factories are good for this sort of thing. I use them for cleaning up log files, pulling specific data out, that kind of thing. A Text Factory is sort of like a rule in Mail where you can layer various processes on top of each other and run them as a batch. Simple things like changing case, adding removing suffixes, sorting, find and replace, selecting just lines containing a certain string, all the way up to serious power tools like running UNIX scripts or AppleScript on the input.

Here's what the Text Factories menu looks like:

http://cl.ly/Fni0

Thanks. Yeah, I remember dabbling with TextFactories on my friend's laptop when batch processing all those files. Nice to have as a template/filter for later as well. Seems virtually any operation goes, grep:ing/scripting etc.

Seems I might want to get a BBEdit license later after all. I have become a collector of text editors lately, including obsessing with monospace fonts. :p
 
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tersono

macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2005
1,999
1
UK
Happy Birthday BBEdit.

For me, the best GUI-based text editor on any platform. Ever. I've been using it since v4 and always miss it when using Windows or whatever else...
 
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