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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

BBEdit 11 arrives

BBEdit 11

I write in BBEdit.1

BBEdit has been around for two decades now. It’s always been for programmers, but I’ve never been a programmer and I love it. Most of what I have written over the years has not needed any rich-text formatting, so Microsoft Word and Pages and their ilk are not necessary. It used to be stuff that would get sucked into a print publishing workflow, or translated to HTML, and these days I’m writing almost exclusively in Markdown.

Yes, one reason I use BBEdit is because I’ve been using it forever and it’s become a part of my brain. I’m sure I don’t use more than a fraction of the features it offers—again, not a programmer—but that doesn’t matter. The stuff I do use, I love. I love it for its support of grep pattern-matching; I don’t use grep every day, but when I do, BBEdit can save me seconds, minutes, or even hours of time.

Let me give you just one example: On Monday Apple had its quarterly phone call with analysts. (“Hi, analysts. This is Tim. How ya doin’?… Naw, nothin’ much.”) Dan Moren and I did some tweets about it on the @sixcolorsevent Twitter account, as we do.

Once the event was over, I wanted to create a transcript of what Tim Cook said. So I selected the entire @sixcolorsevent timeline on Twitter’s website and pasted it into BBEdit.

What came through was a whole lot of junk. But I was able to use BBEdit’s handy Process Lines Containing feature to strip out all the junk from Twitter’s interface, leaving a reverse-chronological set of our tweets. Then I used BBEdit’s Reverse Lines text filter to reverse all the lines of the document, so the story would run in chronological order. Finally, I used some grep search-and-replace commands to clean up the document a little bit more, joining all those tweet-length blasts of Tim Cook into longer sentences.

One that was all over, then I just listened back to the phone call and amended what Dan typed in the heat of the moment with the word-for-word transcript of what Tim said, making it much easier to form a final transcript.

See? BBEdit.

Anyway, I write this paean for BBEdit because today Bare Bones is releasing BBEdit 11. It’s available as a $30 upgrade (to all BBEdit 10 users, including ones from the Mac App Store, because BBEdit 11 won’t be in the Mac App Store) or for $50 for new customers. Users of versions before BBEdit 10 will need to pay $40 to upgrade.

According to Rich Siegel, the primary author of BBEdit, there’s a “whole pile of internal rework” under the hood of this version. When you’ve been developing a piece of software for two decades, keeping the code fresh is a constant issue. Siegel said that every time they’d fix a bug or consider adding a feature to BBEdit 11, they’d determine if the code surrounding it was modern or if it needed to be rewritten. If a rewrite was required, it would happen—rather than just patching the old code and hoping it would hold for another couple of years.

BBEdit 11 includes a modernized CSS dialog box system that retires some of the oldest code remaining in the app. The syntax coloring internals have been changed, which leads to a much-improved set of color schemes.

The difference system has been updated, with a one-window diff mode that I find much more easy to navigate. (In fact, I used this feature Tuesday to compare changes between my edit of Glenn Fleishman’s article about Google Fiber and the alterations Glenn sent back after reading it. BBEdit!)

There’s also an entirely new Clippings UI, improvements to the editor (including the ability to move individual lines up and down in a document with just a keystroke), an Extract command in the Search dialog that makes it behave a bit more like the aforementioned Process Lines Containing, better authentication for Shell Worksheets, the ability to attach a user interface to BBEdit shell scripts, and an expanded file info panel (in both the toolbar and the document-statistics view).

All in all, according to Siegel, there are “224-some-odd distinct changes.” The last paid upgrade to BBEdit was in July 2011, and for all of us who have been using the product faithfully for years (or decades), it’s time to pay again. Gratefully, I’d expect.


  1. Yes, sometimes I write short blog posts in MarsEdit, and I write novels in Scrivener, but almost everything else I write is in BBEdit.

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