BBEdit 8.5 is now available. While lots of new Mac users are coding away with TextMate, much of the old guard is still faithfully using BBEdit. I get curious and have brief little affairs with TextMate every so often, but BBEdit feels so comfortable and natural to me I always come back home.
With this release, Bare Bones is attempting to address the 3 most common criticisms I hear from TextMate users:
- It’s too expensive. The price has been dropped from $199 to $125.
- It doesn’t look like a Mac (OS X) app. The toolbar as been redesiged and some functionality moved around to make it look more OS X-ish.
- No code folding. Code folding has been added, and works great.
Since I was never put off by these1, they run off me like water on a duck. However, I think it is great that Bare Bones is addressing these things and being responsive to customer feedback2.
The things I’m most excited about in this release:
- Indented soft wrapping: Wrapped lines can now be indented to the windowâ€™s left margin, to the same level as the beginning of the line, or reverse indented.
- Sub-line differences: When comparing files using Find Differences, BBEdit shows you the differences in words within each line of differences.
These 2 features alone are things that will affect me every day.
Don’t get me wrong – TextMate is a good product, and is pushing BBEdit to keep up in some areas (features, pizazz, etc.). By the same token, BBEdit is a mature and amazingly capable product and TextMate has a long way to go to catch it in a number of very important areas (find-replace, find differences, etc.). As a Mac user, I’m glad that both are available.
UPDATE: Read Michael Tsai’s notes.
- The cost? A trifle for the production I’ve gained with it over the years. I value efficient, clean interfaces over eye candy and I felt that BBEdit was always very efficient and clean. I don’t actually use code folding much – maybe I will now. [back]
- If BareBones takes these lessons and this attitude and applies them to an IMAP capable upgrade of MailSmith, I know they’d have a big hit on their hands. [back]
I’ve been using BBedit for about six months now as my main development tool, and I doubt that I’ll ever switch. I upgraded to 8.5 yesterday, and I’ve actually started using soft wrapping now that it’s indented “correctly”. I also like the changes in the interface, especially that they’ve moved the encoding and linebreak dropdowns to the bottom statusbar, instead of those annoying old buttons.
I had some problems figuring out how to turn off “Check Spelling as You Type” by default, which leads me to my main gripe: the prefs dialog. It needs some restructuring to make it easier and more intuitive to use (to me, anyway).
Forgot to mention that I still think Jon Hick’s icon is much nicer!
There is a “prefs search” feature in 8.5, but for some reason it is hidden in the “drawer”. I’ve found it works well when I remember it is there. 🙂