Text editing

One of the subsidiary religions of Mac users is that there is One True Text Editor, and Its Name is BBEdit. All gainsayers are decried as fools, unless they use Emacs in which case they’re sort-of tolerated as being clearly harder than us, or vi, in which case they’re clearly insane.

I’ve used BBEdit myself since… uh… gee, I don’t know, was it out in 1992? I’m not sure. Anyway, for most of that time I’ve liked it, apart from the way it handles indenting, wrapping, and folding. See, it’s common practice with program code to indent it to aid readability. Most people do the same thing with HTML, but BBedit’s handling is optimised for the (typically short) lines of program code. The longer paragraphs of text in web pages wrap awkwardly. There’s a neat work-around via a very clever manual-rewrap function, but I’ve always wanted that to happen automatically as I type.

Sadly, the recent v8.0 update, whilst brilliant in many respects, still doesn’t change this behaviour. It also inexplicably fails to use sheets for file save operations, despite using them just about everywhere else, which is bonkers and unexpectedly narks me more than not using sheets at all did.

For a while I used BeOS-refugee Pepper, despite it being buggier than the banks of Loch Lomand in a particularly midge-infested Summer. But Pepper broke some time ago (amidst unfortunate acrimony), and the continuation PepperX hasn’t been updated in over a year. Last time I tried it, it featured a radical new code-simplification technique: every time the document became sufficiently complex as to verge on the interesting, PepperX fell over catastrophically and junked it. While this did successfully encourage the writing of simple code, it was also mind-numbingly irritating.

jEdit does what I want, and even adds some fantastic outline-folding whackiness that’s genuinely useful. Unfortunately, it also does a million things I don’t want, and it does them in a well-disguised but still Java-application sort of way that simply doesn’t ‘feel’ right on a Mac these days. I still use it occasionally, but it makes me wince.

Cue TextMate, about which almost nothing is known. But one can hope, right?

6 Comments on "Text editing"

  1. It also inexplicably fails to use sheets for file save operations, despite using them just about everywhere else, which is bonkers and unexpectedly narks me more than not using sheets at all did.
    You’re not talking about bed linen here, are you? I say, what? What is thees sheets?


  2. Sheets are the things that are like dialog boxes, but they unfurl from the titlebar of the window to which they refer, and remain attached. Do this: open a new TextEdit window, type a few characters, then click the close button. A thing rolls out asking if you want to save changes to the document – that’s a sheet. If you click ‘Save,’ it’s replaced by a different sheet that allows you to specify where to save the document, and what to call it.
    What’s cool about sheets is that they can be put off until you want to deal with them – you can leave a document hanging around with a sheet unfurled, do something else, then come back to it. The sheet doesn’t get in the way like a dialogue box does. It’s also much clearer to which document the sheet refers, since it’s visually attached.
    Frankly, sheets are how dialogues should have been in the first place. BBEdit 8 seems inexplicably inconsistent about how it applies them, which bugs the hell out of me.


  3. hells no. I’ve been using X at home and ork since the early Jag days. I just hadn’t noticed the coolness of sheets – it’s a typical Mac thing: so cool you don’t notice it, until someone points it out.


  4. Heh. That’s a relief.
    You know, I can never remember which version of OS X is which from the cat names. Jaguar was 10.2, and 10.1 was (laughably) Cheetah, yes? What was 10.0? The public beta was…? I give up, I’m using the numbers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *