BBEdit 10.5 adds Retina display support & better navigation

Bare Bones Software has released BBEdit 10.5, a substantial upgrade to its powerful text editor for Mac OS X, which is popular with web developers. BBEdit adds support for Retina display Macs, introduces features for more powerful navigation, adds options for maintaining websites, and includes a slew of other aesthetic, functional, and under-the-hood improvements. The update is available for free to existing customers, both direct from the Bare Bones website, and in the Mac App Store.

"We decided to make this release exciting for every user of BBEdit, not just those with a Retina Mac," Bare Bones's Rich Siegel told our sister site Macworld. The Retina display support will no doubt thrill users of such Macs, but Siegel also emphasized other visual improvements in the app: It sports a slimmer toolbar (allowing more text to fit on the screen), a more traditional sidebar aimed to be more aesthetically pleasing, and desaturated icons to avoid visual distractions. "We gave everything a polish to add a sparkle to it," Siegel said.

The new navigation features in BBEdit 10.5 are numerous. There's a new menu in town called Go, which usurps a few options from the still-present Search menu of yesteryear, like Go To Line. The menu also better exposes features that were previously tucked away deeper in the app. One entirely new navigation feature is Jump Points, which algorithmically logs spots you jump to in your document, setting impermanent bookmarks of a sort. When you want to jump back to your previous position in a lengthy document, the floating Jump Points palette can get you there quickly.

Improvements to BBEdit's Counterparts feature make simpler work of cross-document navigation, too: It's possible to more speedily open files that are related to the current document, or that reside in the same folder as the current document. Such contextual file access appears in the updated Markdown options as well--you get quick access to relevant and recent files, along with references for in-page anchors, when adding images and links. "It's about aiding the user whenever possible," Siegel said.

Refining a second banana

Siegel described BBEdit 10.5's new website options as "refining a 'second-banana feature'" from earlier versions of the app. You can now configure a website as a project with Site Settings. You set the local and remote locations for files, default settings for links and images, and can optionally configure deployment options as well. "We didn't want to try to accommodate all of the different workflows" for website deployment, Siegel said, but the common options of FTP and SFTP get full support. Users can configure choices like running through syntax or link checkers automatically prior to deployment, with an added option for canceling a deployment when such issues are discovered.

BBEdit's Preview feature scores an overhaul as well. You can now customize preview filters that process a document's contents before generating the live preview. Such filters can include Unix scripts and executables, along with AppleScripts. The Preview updates make it possible to generate live previews of documents using MultiMarkdown, for example.

Lion and Mountain Lion users will also get new support for OS X's built in file versioning--though Bare Bones implemented its support for the feature in an approach that eschews Apple's native options. Every time you save your document, BBEdit creates a Versions checkpoint; you can navigate past versions of your file within BBEdit, and even call up side-by-side diffs between revisions. (Look under the Search menu for Compare Against Previous Versions.) "It's not meant to replace true source control," Siegel said, but rather exists as an extra option for some users.

"This really is a major upgrade," Siegel concluded, "just one that we're happening to not charge for."

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