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First Look: BBEdit 9.0, text editor

updated 03:55 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2008

BBEdit 9.0, text editor

Many computer professionals need to work with text for writing, designing web pages using HTML code, or writing programs in a variety of languages such as C++, Ruby, or Python. While you could use a word processor, web page designer, or text editor to write code, many of these programs focus on helping you create text, but lack specific features for manipulating text. If you need to create, edit, and manipulate text, you need a professional text editor such as BBEdit 9.0.

Writing code, whether you use HTML or C++, means typing multiple lines of commands. The more commands you type, the harder it can be to read and understand. To increase readability, this editor offers Code Folding, a simple feature that selectively hides chunks of code from view. Now you can focus on the text that you really want to edit without the distraction of irrelevant code getting in your way.

Typing large amounts of text will always be clumsy, so to speed up your coding, the editor offers a completion feature, which displays a pop-up menu of likely commands as you're typing. This helpful pop-up menu can appear after a short delay or by pressing a keystroke that you configure. With support for multiple programming languages and HTML tags, this auto-completion feature can help you type more code with fewer keystrokes in a shorter amount of time.

Like all professional editors, this program allows you to customize all its features from defining how standard keys should operate (such as the Home and End keys) to which colors to highlight commands to optimizing the editor for a specific programming language. Manipulating text is easy for this program, such as moving individuals characters to manipulating invisible parts of text such as returns and line breaks.

For security, the editor will auto-save your files every minute, insuring that if your Mac crashes, you should lose a minimal amount of work. If you're developing applications in Xcode, you can take advantage of multi-file search. Just define the Xcode files you want to search, type in the text you want to find, and this program swiftly scans your designated files, looking for your specific text.

While most editors can find text, this program can search for differences between text as well. Suppose you have two or more copies of the same file and don't know which parts of each file may have been modified. Let this editor scan all your files and it will highlight the differences found in each one. The editor's greatest strength is manipulating text in multiple ways, from adding/removing line numbers, commenting (or uncommenting)out lines, or finding and replacing non-ASCII characters. When transferring text from one program to another, you can use a special Scratchpad window to manipulate your text before pasting it in another location.

Web designers face the unpleasant task of testing their web pages under a multitude of browsers and operating systems. If you have VMware's Fusion running Windows, this editor can load and display your HTML code in any Windows browsers you may have installed, such as Internet Explorer or Opera. Programmers working with different languages, or dealing with different coding styles of their fellow programmers, will especially appreciate the editor's ability to manipulate code, such as converting Pascal comments into C comments.

If you work with text in any form, whether through HTML tags, programming language source code, or just plain writing, BBEdit will likely offer a feature for you. The sheer number of text manipulation features may overwhelm you at first, but the more you dig into the program's features, the more you'll realize that BBEdit 9.0 is truly a unique text editing tool that no serious coder should be without.

by MacNN Staff



  1. technicalmonkey

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It truely doesn't suck!

    I couldn't live without this program.

  1. bhuot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    good text editor

    I don't use it often, but when I do, there is nothing else that does the job as well. This program isn't overloaded with features and is somewhat cryptic but at least it can handle large files and interpret different text encodings transparently. Much better than any of the other text editors I have tried. Compared to Emacs, this is one slick program.

  1. Geobunny

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Great app, poor review

    BBEdit is a superb app which I use on a daily basis, and have done for many years. It's rock solid too - it never ever crashes.

    This MacNN review, on the other hand, was pathetic. There are many new features in v9, yet they only mention two of them here. Everything else they talk about was available in v8.

  1. ClevelandAdv

    Joined: Dec 1969



    There is no program, tool or feature that makes my Mac experience so unique as BBEdit.

    I have been using it to code HTML, PHP, MySQL, Perl and more for years. Bare Bones also know how to make useful improvements and not just add bloat.

    The upgrade is also rock-solid (after one day's assessment) and adds some useful features.

    Thank You BBEdit!

  1. ophiochos

    Joined: Dec 1969


    another fan

    there's nothing like BBEdit. I started with version 3.0 and have never been without it since. I lost track of what it can actually do years ago, it's too powerful. could not function without it.
    I agree the review was really thrown together. A better list would have mentioned the Scratchpad, for instance (my favourite new feature)...

  1. shawnde

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Also like TextMate ...

    While I really like BBEdit, I've also started to like Textmate. Obviously it's not nearly as feature-rich as BBEdit, but it's very efficient, fast and very programmer-friendly. Full keyboard access, and nice snippet/macro features. It's worth checking out.

  1. IronMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Horrific review

    This is probably the first review done on v.9 and it sounds like it's also the first review done by "this editor". I really wish that "this editor" took a couple of more days to take "this program" out for a real spin.

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