Bare Bones Software BBEdit

Bare Bones Software Inc.’s BBEdit is beloved by many different kinds of Mac users, and rightly so: for Web authors, it’s an excellent HTML (HyperText Markup Language) editor; for programmers, it’s a versatile coding environment; and for non-coders, it’s a flexible text editor with impressive search-and-replace features. Version 6.5, which enhances Mac OS X integration and adds several other new features, is an impressive improvement of this text-editing prodigy.

X savvy

Although version 6.1 was the program’s first OS X-native incarnation, it’s version 6.5 that makes BBEdit a full-fledged OS X application with significant OS X-only features. Not surprisingly, given its high level of geek credentials, BBEdit has taken full advantage of OS X’s Unix underpinnings. You can edit Perl, Python, and Unix shell scripts with comforts such as syntax colouring. The Worksheet Windows feature brings the power of Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop to Unix. In addition, the program adds a new BBedit command to the command line, allowing you to open files in BBEdit directly from the Terminal and pipe output from shell commands into BBEdit windows.

Improved all over

BBEdit lacked strong support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for a surprisingly long time. Version 6.5 rectifies that, adding syntax colouring, source formatting, and support for CSS in BBEdit’s helpful Tag Maker feature. The program also now supports PHP 4, WML 1.2 and 1.3, and Objective-C. BBEdit’s Find and Replace features have also been improved. File filtering has been enhanced, allowing you to filter searches based on text content, and it’s been extended to work with the Find Differences command. Most exciting for users of BBEdit’s GREP-enhanced features is the new Perl-Compatible Regular Expressions pattern-matching engine. Power searchers can use back references within search patterns, take advantage of nongreedy wild-card characters, and limit wild cards to minimum and maximum match numbers. Syntax colouring of GREP patterns in the Find and Replace dialog box also makes constructing and debugging complicated patterns easier.

Macworld’s buying advice

An upgrade like BBEdit 6.5 reminds us what a powerful and flexible application this is. Leading the way with innovative and far-reaching Mac OS X support, BBEdit continues to be one of the best Mac applications on the planet.

Prices listed are in US currency.