Price: £99 plus VAT
BBEdit is famed for its strong text editing features, ease of use, low memory requirements, and as a great companion editor to the likes of Macromedia Dreamweaver. With the release of version 6.0, BareBones has both greatly enhanced the package, and brought it up to date with modern technologies.
Version 6.0 now supports Wireless Markup Language (WML) 1.1, which is accessed directly as a stationary. Other up-to-date technologies now supported include HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0.
Commonly, BBEdit complements other visual HTML editors for complete control and manipulation of text data and, as such, comes with built-in support for more than a dozen programming languages. In version 6.0, the commands usually found on the HTML tag palette have been made available from the contextual menu. The Entities table is now expandable, and you’ll also find enhancements made to the Web-safe colour palette (including VisiBone 1 and 2 layouts), as well as the ability to preview a document simultaneously in all running browsers.
Although BBEdit is extremely powerful on its own, it becomes even more powerful when you script it with AppleScript. BBEdit 6.0 is completely scriptable, recordable, and attachable. This means that almost anything you can do by hand in BBEdit, you can write a script to do.
Beneath its minimalist interface are powerful features including multiple undos, an integrated spell checker, multi-file search-&-replace, and ‘grep’ style pattern-based searching. BBEdit also supports all DOS, Unix and Mac files, and can compare differences at the file, folder or project level and more. Other features include the ability to develop your own BBEdit extensions using the Tag Maker function, optional automatic file backup and “Open from” and “Save to” FTP servers from the File menu.
Also among its newer enhancements is support for the Mac OS 9 specific Apple Keychain in the built-in FTP tool. With this feature, you can edit files directly on your Web server. New QuickTime support enables viewing of QT movies and other translatable image files without leaving BBEdit.
BBEdit 6.0 also comes with an enhanced Glossary for storing custom text or tags. The Glossary is a place where you can store short pieces of text that you use often, almost like a scrapbook. The Glossary is optimized for storing text, and can contain special codes that allow the text to actually change depending on how or where you use it. It also has a cool feature that lets you group files and folders you frequently use. The files in a file group are usually BBEdit text files, but you can place any kind of file in a file group. Once you’ve added files to a group, you can open them at any time by double-clicking them in the group window.
There’s really nothing bad to say about BBEdit. Most of the features on my wish list have been implemented, including a great timesaving windows list for faster navigation through open documents. However, BareBones has managed to surprise me with cool features such as the ability to view QuickTime and other translatable image files.
I still find BBEdit’s Find-&-Replace feature a bit quirky, however – it’s not as intuitive as in Allaire’s HomeSite, where you just select a chunk of text and choose replace. Apart from that, BBEdit really rocks and should be an essential tool in every Mac designer’s and programmer’s toolbox.