Call for BBEdit Wizardry

Today the last vestige of the PC left the building. I replaced the old Dell 500Mhz machine at home with a Dual G4 and a 20″ flat panel monitor. This means that all of my primary machines are now Macs. <insert little dance here>

I’m quite comfortable on the Mac. With Panther adding the groovy AppSwitching doo-hickey, I feel like I’ve got a majority of my keyboard navigation techniques. I’m still not quite happy about the desktop clutter that just seems to appear, but I’m assuming that is residual “I’m not quite sure what is going on here so I better save it some place I can see” syndrome.

The one class of application I’m not comfortable with are text editors. I’ve been debating two strategies here: finally breaking down and learning Emacs or learning the intricacies of BBEdit. The Emacs strategy appeals to the keyboard N.A.D.D. in me, but BBEdit feels like the politically correct thing to do.

So, are you a BBEdit user? If so, what is your favorite tip/trick in BBEdit?

15 Responses

  1. HiFoo 21 years ago

    What do you have against a nice terminal and VIM (VI Improved)?

  2. I’m a big fan of the terminal as well as VIM/Emacs. I think a basic knowledge is essential since the tool is omnipresent on any Mac OS X box whereas BBEdit is it.

    I’m tackling the learning curve on BBEdit because I think it’s more extensible than VIM. Folks can build additional useful crap on it which means more toys for me.

  3. Option #3: switch to an editor that works no matter which platform you’re using but still manages to have all sorts of nice plugins:

    Or if you want more of an IDE with editing capabilities:

  4. Good lord, a java-based editor. Are you insane? The reason I use text editors and not word and the like is AMAZING KEYBOARD LATENCY. I don’t need the fancy crap, I want raw text processing power.

    Java as application framework still is just not there. Hell, Flash is faster.

    I feel much better now.

  5. At first I read this and my snob reflex kicked into high gear. I was ready to go on one of those really really boring Emacs rants.

    Then I actually did some research, and BBedit is a damn powerful editor. I wish I had a Mac so I could play with it.

    So what editor are you coming from in the Windows world, Rands?

  6. My Windows editor. A good story.

    Many eons ago, I moved from some cheeseball editor to Brief. At the time, I worked at Borland and HEY GUESS WHAT Borland eventually bought the company that produced Brief and promptly killed the whole damned thing.

    My Brief keystroke mastery lived on in the form of a good editor called Codewright. Codewright does live on the Mac where, apparently, if you don’t know BBEdit, you don’t know shit.

    I briefly (sic) considered mapping all Brief keystrokes to BBEdit, but that would turn me into one of those people WHO NEVERS CHANGES AND OH HEY I USE CLASSIC ON THE MAC BECAUSE AHGHAUBHUAHSBAVBLBAGHAA

  7. Lloyd 21 years ago

    I use Vim ( ). It’s almost painful to me to use any other kind of text editor because I’ve become quite fast with it. Great for writing code.

    Kind of a steep learning curve but so so elegent; when you “get it” you’ll never want to leave.

    It’s been ported to OS X as well ( ).

  8. Lloyd 21 years ago

    One of the cool things about Vim is the number of scripts that people have written to extend Vim’s functionality ( )

    With Clearcase integration as well as a number of other scripts for tagfiles and the like I was able to chuck the IDE I was using and just use Vim for coding.

    Someone even wrote a Tetris clone in pure Vim Script! ( )

  9. dhalgren 21 years ago

    My fave thing about BBEdit is its HTML editing mode – and especially the little bit where you can save a source page directly to the server via FTP.

    I use emacs too, though, and probably more. The learning curve is hideous but it can do everything, and what it can’t do you can script it to do. I like M-x psychoanalyze-pinhead; but people have scripted it to be a newsreader, a mailreader, an IRC client, a MUD client, a roguelike game, etc. An interesting ideological topic is the emacs/xemacs branch, but people get religious about it.

    I thought you were supposed to be in Vegas this weekend, getting rolled by giant bags of silicone and the girls attached to ’em.

  10. hnnnnnnnh 21 years ago

    How to continuously hack it and never pay for it, because I’m poor and your company won’t hire me 😛

  11. Oh god, BBEdit. I brought my own iBook to work for the duration of the last job because I couldn’t stand the editors offered on Windows. That wasn’t OS bigotry, it was editor bigotry. I’ve been using BBEdit for, what, ten years? – from when it still had a DRieUxCaPS plugin. At least eight of those years has been for salary, wage, and valuable consulting fees. These days, being able to type “bbedit filename” from shell makes me giggle.

    You should do with BBEdit what you should do with any app you intend to use for more than half an hour: Open the preferences dialog and tweak. I spend an hour on any new installation of BBEdit to configure it MY way and give it MY key chords. If your muscle memory favors Brief keystrokes, use those. It’s already got a built-in emacs mode, so it’s not like you should feel shame.

    BBEdit’s cvs widget saved me hours of work at my last job since I can key-chord a checkin or update without breaking stride on whatever I’m writing. There are some fine scripts circulating, many free (I can’t recommend any but the Daring Fireball weblog occasionally flags the goodies, and I’m looking for a reason to try out bbautocomplete).

    The message board kills HTML, so some URLs:

  12. T RANDS Apparently you are unfamiliar with the current state of Java on the desktop. JIT, JRE, other stupid TLAs, etc.

    Seriously though, lag? Just ’cause it’s Java? That sounds like one of those wacky misconceptions dating back to early Java, much like some people think C++ is always slower than C mostly because some of the earlier C++ compilers sucked horribly.

    Okay, I confess; I’ve never tried jEdit on Windows, only MacOS/X and Linux, but on those two, it runs just great without any particular lag issues or anything.

  13. i used to be a bbedit head.

    my favorite features (then) were good find-and-replace, preview in web browser (this was a big deal to me at the time, it’s not any more), and a few of the extras, like “prefix/suffix lines with…”.

    my bbedit disappointments now (and i haven’t used recent osx versions, so many of these may have been alleviated) are 1., utter, crushing lack of column editing (vertical/non-contiguous select) mode, 2. what felt like clumsier multi-window navigation (this is more a windows/mac gui toolkit issue than a bbedit-specific problem), and 3., it’s not very “bare-bones” any more.

    w/r/t emacs, emacs is wonderful. i would offer this caveat: if you are a programmer and a compulsive customizer like me, you will undoubtedly find yourself spending oodles of time customizing and extending your editor to make it just so.

    if you do more unix-related work, emacs wins. by unix-related, i mean, you are comfortable with unix or want to become so, and plan on using different shell commands as part of your editing/emacs-ing. emacs has mail and customization like nobody’s business, which are the reasons *i* like it. xemacs is my preference, via an xserver. other people will have others.

    if you do more “native” work, then prolly another (bbedit, etc.) more gui-integrated, limited but simpler editor wins.

  14. I see nobody is actually substantively answering the question.

    Automatic entity conversion. Just type your accents, quotation marks, en dashes, and the like, select the text, hit Utilities → Translate, and watch everything turn into correct entities (for any character encoding– they’re Unicode).

    HTML stationery. You can set up a blank document, complete with DTD, and reuse it.

    HTML autocomplete. Type the opening of a tag, type the contents, and hit Ctrl-period. Unless the preceding code is horribly fux0red, the tag closes for you right then and there.

    Intelligent HTMLification. Convert multiple paragraps to <p> in a flash. Make lists into lists. Also readily keyboardable; everything is.

    Glossary. Get to know #selection# and #insertion# tokens especially.

    Built-in FTP. Nice to have Interarchy around, but really, just to update a blog?

    Can display anything QuickTime can. Excellent for viewing E-mail attachments. (Command-J in Interarchy opens with BBEdit– even a JPEG.)

    Syntax-checking. It occasionally makes a mistake, but 99 times out of 100, if BBEdit finds no syntax errors in your document, you’ve written valid HTML.

    Life is unimaginable without BBEdit.

  15. Gabrielle Taylor 21 years ago

    I used to convert Canadian federal government reports from PDF to HTML. Bilingual reports. The entity conversion is useful, but only does 1/3rd the job.

    The French reports have to conform to the same line-wrap rules in HTML as on paper. Which means inserting lots of nbsp. Numbers, honorifics, names of departments, names of pieces of legislation… And ULs have to be formatted in a certain way, and I am not allowed to do new CSS because the CSS is designed by committee, so I have to fake it with brs. And so on.

    So, I gradually accumulated a massive search-replace Applescript that does about 80% of the work. I used to do this by hand and would literally spend 30% of my time (once, 2 days straight) just formatting the damn French grammar. Sure, I _could_ script other applications, but given my level of scripting awareness (and that I don’t want more awareness than I have) I’m very happy with BBEdit.