BBEdit 10.5 review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: $49.99 (£34.50) (upgrade from BBEdit 10: free; upgrade from previous versions: $39.99 (£30))

  • Pros: More coherent user interface. Support for Mac OS X Versions. More comprehensive Preview mode. Support for Apple’s Retina displays.

  • Cons: Removal of CVS will upset some long-time users.

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Fast approaching is the twentieth anniversary of BBEdit’s commercial launch. In that time, Bare Bones Software has maintained and developed the text editor against which all others are judged. Rather than rest on its laurels and numerous awards, two years ago the company released BBEdit 10.

The new feature set opened up the app to more than just codeheads with enhanced text and HTML editing, improvements to the user interface and superior project management. After minor tweaks with BBEdit 10.1, the latest version boasts some cool new features.

The first thing you’ll spot on firing up BBEdit 10.5 is a change to the toolbar. Gone is the pencil, replaced by a simple drop-down menu to save vertical space – useful for those of us working on a small-screen laptop.

There’s a brand-new menu bar entry: Go (above). In keeping with an ethos of refining existing commands, all of those for BBEdit’s navigation are housed here including some that were previously in the Search menu (which is now looking quite sparse). Place holders, jump marks and code functions now reside in Go with the latter having its own floating window, a sensible move. Additionally, the new Named Symbol function lets you filter through every function and marker in the current file.

It’s nice to see a company embracing new Mac OS X features. In this version Bare Bones has implemented support for Lion and Mountain Lion’s Versions (above) with a new Search option of Compare Against Previous Version. As a new version is created each time you save a file, you can step back through versions by date and time and use BBEdit’s Find Differences to compare them for changes.

While BBEdit has always supported third-party version control systems such as Subversion, support for Apple’s Versions brings a level of such functionality to a non-power user. However, some will berate the loss of support for CVS (Concurrent Versions System) and this may be a deal-breaker for such users.

Given that many BBEdit users will be handling website changes, a new feature allows projects to behave almost as pseudo sites with full management, checking and uploading – much easier than the previous method. Also, previously you could preview the way HTML and CSS would work on a website. Preview has now been extended to include AppleScripts, executables or even shell scripts. In short, almost everything in a document can be previewed before going live.

There’s one feature that all software companies will place at the top of their press releases and that’s support for Apple’s new Retina displays. BBEdit 10.5 has this and while it will certainly make a difference to owners of the latest MacBook Pros and forthcoming new iMacs, the vast majority of users won’t see any benefits on standard displays.

When BBEdit first appeared in 1993 it had very little competition. While that may not be the case now, Bare Bones Software has continuously developed its premier software and this latest version has plenty going for it. Casual text editors may find that the company’s free TextWrangler does the job. If not, BBEdit’s difficult to beat.

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