Review: BBEdit 10

For those who design and develop their web sites and scripts using a text editor, there’s great news: BBEdit has reached its tenth version, and that is reason enough to celebrate. Version 10 gets a facelift, some much needed new features such as package support, and some less needed novelties like being able to edit text files inside a compressed zip file without first decompressing.

No matter what else I tried out, I have always found myself going back to BBEdit as the best all-round editor available. I’m sure some people will disagree. I’m certain some people will swear TextMate is better, but to me BBEdit has always felt more natural, more intuitive. I my opinion, BBEdit has never forced the philosophy of its developers upon me. It let me work the way I wanted, and that resulted in a clear benefit: I could concentrate more on the job than on dealing with BBEdit.

With version 10, BareBones Software has taken this freedom and flexibility a couple of steps further. While I was quite happy editing anything from short snippets of Javascript to HTML and CSS in BBEdit 9, I also found the interface to be boringly familiar. And there were a couple of things I wanted to do that I couldn’t, such as changing colours in the editor so they are more to my liking.

Version 10 changes all that. Its interface and Preferences are stunningly modern. BBEdit requires Mac OS X 10.6.8, but really likes to live in Mac OS X Lion. It is the first third-party application that comes with support for Lion’s full screen capabilities. Its dialogue windows and panels have been modernized as well. The Markup panel has become a button panel, with most of its features managed by dialogues that pop-up at your cursor’s location, rather than in a modal window.

The Markup pop-up.

The pop-ups themselves offer a different tool set as well: you can have BBEdit fill in the defaults for the markup element you’re working with, or you can fill in attributes and parameters yourself — and give elements parameters that don’t comply with any type of markup standard if you wish. When you start filling in the element’s parameters and attributes, the pop-ups are also a lot less cluttered because parameters and attributes only appear on a per-needed basis.

Any markup element can be edited with the elegant Edit Markup command that will automatically pop up the markup dialogue again. The command has its own shortcut key, of course.

Another nice new feature that makes BBEdit a really excellent markup editor: the Preview in BBEdit feature can now use preview templates and customisable CSS. A template is dumped in the BBEdit Application Support folder and contains as much HTML code as you want. The only placeholder you’ll need will point to where you want the variable code you write to end up. This new feature makes it possible:

  • to edit WordPress and Drupal pages more easily
  • to correctly preview fragments of HTML/CSS.

BBEdit 10 will work with zipped files. What that means is that you can search inside zipped files, but also directly edit files inside a compressed file without first decompressing it. Suppose you’re coding a WordPress plug-in and realize you have made an error in the readme file, you can now just open that file right within the zip.

A new Setup command opens a panel with four lovely icons running along the top for Bookmarks, Filters, Patterns, and Sites. The respective features that are grouped in the Setup panel come back in a number of dialogues and windows, such as the Patterns list in the Grep pattern drop-down menu of the Find window.

The above and related novelties and improvements (such as the ability to save your configuration to DropBox and share that file across multiple computers you own) make BBEdit a smoother editor with more power too. But there’s more. In the re-designed Preferences panel you can set up your own colours and save them as ‘themes’. Colours use the system Color Picker, so there’s no longer the BBEdit colour palettes to cater for — these were a bit on the skinny side anyway.

Several sites, including Daring Fireball, have customized BBEdit colour schemes ready to download.

Other great improvements in my opinion, are HTML 5 support (ARIA attributes and values), the ability to print selections, to change line spacing, and to store document states for documents opened via FTP/SFTP. If you want to expand BBEdit’s capabilities, you can do so now with ‘packages’ — the collection of files you keep together, enabling an all-at-once installation.

After having gone through most of BBEdit 10’s improvements and new features, I can only conclude this version to be a major upgrade. If you’re a web page designer or developer, or someone who codes WordPress/Drupal/Joomla sites, you will find BBEdit 10 more powerful, with an abundance of time-saving improvements. Although BBEdit is overkill for my needs, I already know it’s going to stay my preferred way of managing text and code snippets for the next years. BBEdit costs approx. 40.00 Euros.

This entry was posted in: Reviews


J.D. – Copywriter – Tech. Writer – Editor at Visuals Producer – Contributor at Photoshop User, Studio Daily, POST Magazine – Sub-editor at RedShark News