BBEdit is the 800 pound gorillla of text editors. People have switched to the Mac just to run this program. So what is so special about BBEdit? I’d have to say the answer is a combination of utility and pedigree.
BBEdit goes back System 6. This application is not a word processor but a text editor. While you could write a novel in BBEdit, it is more suited to prepare the web site promoting your novel or, better yet, the video game based on your novel. Put simply, this application is the equivalent of a super powered nail-gun in the tool belt of all code jockies.
BBEdit supports just about every software and internet development language you can think of. Using version 8.7 it support most, if not all, of the major languages including Objective C, Perl and Java just to name a few. Better yet, its plug-in architecture allows the creation of custom modules to support any language.
Getting back to its pedigree, BBEdit is a very mature application. The current version 8.7 has years of improvements and tweaks. Many of the innovations are obvious like code folding using Apple’s familiar disclosure triangles. Just as impressive as the big features however are the little ones that don’t show themselves right away. For instance, when you close BBEdit and then re-open it later, it remembers where you were when you left off and opens the same files in the same places. It even mounts FTP automatically. Additionally, BBEdit allows you to search and work on multiple files at a time and can handle enormous files sizes.
It tracks and allows the merging of changes in a way that is both smart and intuitive for programming. It also has a robust version control system.
One nice feature is the ability to turn down the down feature support. You can actually turn off language specific features for modules you don’t plan to use. BBEdit also includes a variety of Automator actions and Applescript support.
Having gone full circle with this application I began playing with it as a text editor and not a programming tool. Indeed, I wrote this review in BBEdit. It has some very powerful features when used in this capacity. I could particularly see using it when putting together forms with repetitive text strings. For everyday word processing however, I’m still using my concoction of Scrivener, Word, and Pages.
BBEdit actually has registered its logo phrase, “It doesn’t suck” and indeed is does not. I have to admit I was a little intimidated about reviewing BareBones BBEdit. Some people make their living in BBEdit and work in it every day. I thought, however, as a new user it would be interesting to see how easy it was to find these powerful features. Bare Bones did an impressive job of making these very deep features accessible to new users. That is no easy feat.
An individual license for BBEdit license runs $125. If you spend any amount of time in software development or web coding, you owe it to yourself to head over to Bare Bones Software and take a hard look at this application.