Bare Bones Software on Thursday released BBEdit 9, a major update to the venerable text editor. This new version adds several significant features, including a rewritten project manager, improvements to its search and document-comparison features, and a new text-completion interface.

The new text-completion feature prompts users with a list of items they might want to enter. For users writing code, text completion provides quick access to frequently-used constructions; users writing prose will be offered words out of their Mac's system dictionary that closely match the word they're typing.

BBEdit's text-completion feature suggests several Cascading Style Sheet properties.

By default, the text-completion box appears after a brief pause in typing, but users who find it intrusive can set the feature to only appear when they choose a menu item or hit a keyboard shortcut. Text completion is also configurable by language, so users who prefer to get pop-up items while writing perl scripts or HTML but not while composing prose will be able to see the text-completion box only when they want to.

BBEdit's search capabilities have been changed and improved, too. The program's Find and Multi-File Search commands have been split in two, both available from the Search menu. And unlike BBEdit's old Find dialog box, which was modal, the new Find and Multi-File Search commands are non-modal, so you can keep the search window open while switching among various windows. (This switch also eliminates what was perhaps BBEdit's most idiosyncratic user-interface element, the Don't Find button.)

BBEdit's Find and Multi-File Search features have been split in version 9, and both windows are now non-modal.

In a major improvement to BBEdit's document-comparison features, BBEdit 9 provides much more detailed results when you compare the contents of two files. Writers of prose will especially be pleased with the more granular listing of differences between two files and the ability to view individual changes that occur in a given line or paragraph.

A new feature, Scratchpad, gives users an extra place to jot down notes or put just about any text they want. It doesn't need to be saved and the contents are automatically retained, even when you quit and re-launch the program.

The File Groups feature found in previous versions of BBEdit has been replaced by Projects. The new project window allows users to directly edit text in a file, as well as the ability to rename, create, and delete files and folders.

With this update, BBEdit also gains the ability to read and write bz2 compressed files. So if you have a compressed file in your project window, when you click on it BBEdit will automically display the contents of the file for you. In addition, a new feature designed specifically for developers now allows users to also search in Xcode projects.

Other changes in BBEdit 9.0 include revamped Ruby language support, enhanced JavaScript support, updates to the ObjC, Obj-C++ and YAML language modules, and some improvements to the Clippings feature.

BBEdit 9.0 is available immediately and costs US$129. Upgrades from any previous version cost $30; anyone who purchased BBEdit 8.5 to 8.7 on or after January 1, 2008 is eligible to receive a free upgrade.