BBEdit Revised, Reviewed.


Jeffrey Zeldman Presents

I RECENTLY ATE dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years. If you are in a position to do likewise, I highly recommend the experience. So much had changed, yet so much was still wonderfully the same. We were still the same joyously creative young fools, yet time had seasoned us. No longer poking the world with sharp sticks, we had found a place in it. I was pleasantly reminded of this existentially thrilling encounter while opening a pre-release version Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit 9.6 update—released to the public as of 12:19 EDT today.

A beloved and venerable HTML and text editor for Macintosh, BBEdit is tailored to the needs of web developers and designers who write their own code. Its no-frills interface consists of a document window in which you write your code; a side drawer that lists all pages you’re working on, enabling you to navigate between them; a stack of buttons (many with drop-downs) you can push to perform tasks like choosing and inserting a DOCTYPE, wrapping chunks of copy in paragraph tags, checking syntax and links for errors, and more; and a report window where you can view your test results and correct your errors.

Previous versions of BBEdit were updated with the precepts of Designing With Web Standards in mind, and the current version takes some of its feature cues from Jeremy Keith’s HTML5 For Web Designers. (When I say the software takes its cues from Mr Keith’s book, I mean that literally; Bare Bones Software head Rich Siegel and his team used HTML5 For Web Designers to help develop some of their testing suites.)

Given these antecedents, it’s no surprise that the new version adds support for HTML5, including published element lists from WHATWG and W3C; CSS3 properties, including vendor-specific properties for Mozilla, Safari/WebKit, and Opera browsers; a new contextual code-hinting feature tied to your chosen doctype that includes as-you-type popups for allowed elements, attributes, and (in CSS documents) style properties; and Bare Bones’s own offline validator (HTML 3.2 through HTML5, XHTML inclusive), baked right into BBEdit.

Using BBEdit 9.6 this morning, I was able to quickly update my site from XHTML 1.0 to HTML5. The syntax checker enabled me to use my preferred coding style (i.e. XHTML style) and the product identified outmoded attributes (“language=JavaScript”) and elements (“rev”), enabling me to correct them right in the error report window. It took no time at all.

BBEdit 9.6 also found the errors in WordPress plug-ins like fbLike Button and TweetMeme Retweet Button, enabling me to make an informed decision to stop using the former plug-in and helping me edit the PHP files of the latter plug-in so that it now validates here.

BBEdit 9.6 also offers increased performance for several common
operations, including search, and includes several enhancements and
refinements, plus fixes for reported issues. Detailed information on
all of the changes and improvements in BBEdit 9.6 can be found on the Release Notes page.

After using the new version for two days, I am switching back to BBEdit as my full-time coding platform.

BBEdit 9.6 is available free of charge to all registered BBEdit 9 customers from the Bare Bones Software website on the BBEdit Updates page. For more information, or to download a fully functional demo, visit Bare Bones Software’s site.

22 thoughts on “BBEdit Revised, Reviewed.

  1. What editor were you using previously?

    I was also raised on BBEdit but made the switch to textmate years ago. I’ve tried going to back to BBEdit previously because I miss it’s robust search capabilities, but always found myself back in Textmate.

  2. I’ve been using BBEdit for years. On the one hand, I welcome html5 support, on the other, I’ve come to expect regression errors somewhere in their Projects or Multi-file search dialogs, especially when dealing with files accessed via ftp.

    Actually, I was mentally comparing Barebones with Flying Meat this morning since the latter just released Acorn 2.6.1, which (among other things) fixed a subtle issue I found like two days ago.

    In my experience, Barebones support has been very good and I’ve twice now received updated builds to address an issue I’ve found – but it may take several weeks for them to produce a point release.

  3. It’s always nice to see a BBEdit update even though I don’t use it these days.

    I do occasionally use Barebones free TextWrangler (aka “BBEdit light” ) in addition to my standard tools TextMate and Coda (which soon gets HTML5 support too).

  4. I love, love that your “zeldman.com now HTML5″ announcement is nestled in a BBEdit point release post. Just updated my copy and am digging the new syntax checking.

  5. I switched from BBEdit to Textmate about 5 years ago. Switched back to BBEdit with version 9 and haven’t looked back. I’ve emulated through scripts most of the convenient Textmate shortcuts and I get my split panes back!

    Textmate 2 will most assuredly be a really great text editor–someday. It may never be released though if it has to be “perfect.” I can’t wait that long.

  6. A small voice can be heard beneath the banqueting table as quail carcassess are tossed into the fireplace. “Please don’t forget about me! I’ll do anything you need and for no cost at all. I bet I’ve helped thousands of you write your best ever code. I hope to Whichever God You Choose To Follow I’m never abandoned. My name is TextWrangler. Thank you BareBones forever for the app I’ve used since V 1.o

  7. I tried BBEdit again when version 9 came out and was quite impressed with the text editor, but less so with everything surrounding it. In particular, it seemed a bit too focused on HTML and CSS for my liking (I want my editor to be equally versed in all the languages I use), and it’s lack of support for any version control platform felt very 2003, to me.

    But BBEdit has a great history and some great stuff in it — I’ll keep trying it again with every new version, hoping they finally add what I need to adopt it full-time.

  8. Jeff, BBEdit has support for CVS, Subversion, and Perforce (P4). Go to the Menus section in the Preferences if you’re not seeing the Menu Bar level options for these source Control systems. Bare Bones runs a Google Groups mailing list named BBEdit Talk where you can get questions like this answered. With an 18 year history, lots of useful features like this can get lost.

  9. I stand corrected! Would be nice to see some DVCS support (Git, Mercurial), as well. In any case, my bad for not noticing it when I tried it out. I’ll give the latest version another look. I am pretty in love with TextMate, but the lack of meaningful updates to it has me scared for its future…I’d certainly love to be working with something that felt like it was more actively being developed.

  10. BBEdit is one of the few Mac apps that I truly miss now that I’m PC-based. The closest I’ve managed to find on the PC – based on the interface and ease of use – is EditPlus. I guess I can always dream of BareBones releasing a PC version or, better yet, being able to afford a MacBook one day. :-)

  11. Funny to hear BBedit described as an HTML editor. While it is also my HTML editor of choice, I was using it for C and Perl programming years before HTML existed. In fact what I really like about BBedit for web development is that it is equally at home with Javascript, PHP, and Perl as it is with HTML and CSS, allowing me to do all my coding in one place.

  12. Jeffrey, I still fondly remember the ‘Made with SimpleText button on your homepage’, those were the times.

  13. BBedit is a terrific HTML editor. The upgrade is fantastic. I had no clue of the HTML5 support until I read your article. My life creating HTML5 markup becomes much easier. Very cool. HTML5 is the best thing since landing on the moon.

  14. Trace – you hit on the one thing I really never liked about BBEdit – that “…doesn’t suck” logo thing :-)

    Big deal for me when they added the slide-drawer, projects, cleaned up search/replace dialog functionality, etc. etc. And I still can’t believe they don’t hit us for most of these upgrades ($).

    The “Edit with BBEdit” menu command in Dreamweaver (Mac) has always seemed very appropriate.

  15. I realize this is off-topic, but it’s the first place I have seen mention of the standards-noncompliance of the Facebook “like” button. Specifically, they instruct you to place a proprietary <fb:like> element in the markup, along with js which transforms that into the button.

    I was annoyed to see that Facebook had elected to implement this in a way that doesn’t just ignore web standards, but actively thumbs its nose at the standards. I don’t see anything about what they are doing that wouldn’t have been possible using standard elements… and such an approach would degrade much more gracefully.

    Okay, back to talking about BBEdit, which I have not used for a number of years, but which I should play around with again.

  16. From messages on the bbedit mailing list, it appears that the tradition of introducing regression errors into the Find dialog in new major point releases continues.

  17. @Bob Sawyer we’re diametric there, I got back to mac after years of being immersed in Windows, one of the first things I did was buy a copy of BBEdit. Take a look at Ultraedit, EmEditor or notepad plus, might do ya.

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