BBEdit 8.5 Turns Up the Heat with Indented Soft Wrapping

BBEdit — a “professional HTML and text editor for the Macintosh” — has just had its version 8.5 release and it comes with a healthy dose of new hotness:

  • […] The price has been dropped from $199 to $125.
  • […] The toolbar as been redesiged and some functionality moved around to make it look more OS X-ish.
  • […] Code folding has been added, and works great.

Most exiting to me, though, is the addition of indented soft wrapping. The feature goes by many names, but, even if the name of it doesn’t sound familiar, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it with other editors. The basic idea is that for a line which is wrapped several times — such as a paragraph of copy in HTML — the indented parts of the line will line-up with the indention of the original line.

I’ve been looking for an OS X-based editor that I can live with for some time now. Sure, TextMate has its strong points, but up until this recent BBEdit release, I haven’t been aware of any OS X text editors that included both indented soft wrapping and a tabbed interface. For what it’s worth, there’s been an enhancement request filed to add indented soft wrapping to TextMate but the TextMate team (which is to say, Allan) hasn’t quite gotten to that one yet.

A decent text editor is one of the last puzzle pieces in transition toward OS X. Up until now, it seemed that BBEdit was just resting on its laurels, virtually begging TextMate to take away its text-editor crown. With this most recent release, though, it looks like they’ve been reinvigorated. And, if BBEdit 8.5 lives up to the write-ups, I may just be well on my way toward a Redmond-free OS. Of course, if Uncle Steve were to release Merom-based MacBook Pros, that wouldn't hurt either ;). (Fortunately, that may be not be too far off.)

Tabbed Editors for OS X?

Though I’m thoroughly enjoying my PowerBook, I’m not yet as productive on it as on my Windows box. It’s just a few niggling apps for which I haven’t yet found equivalents. And, at the top of the list is an editor.

I don’t need much in an editor — one with a tabbed interface along with syntax highlighting for HTML/CSS would be fine. Multiple undo/redo would be even better. But, I can’t find such an editor for OS X. Sure, on Windows, there would be several from which to choose — TextPad is probably the benchmark editor in this category and Crimson Editor (what I use) is freeware but just as good.

I’ve used tabbed editors on Windows for years and I’ve found them very handy. I often have four or five documents open at once — a couple CSS files, perhaps a JavaScript file or two, and a few HTML documents — and having a separate window for each document just feels clumsy to me. They invariably overlap and the filenames in their titlebars end up underneath each other. With tabs, I can see each filename easily and switch between files quickly.

When I first started looking for software for my PowerBook (before it even arrived, even), I penciled-in SubEthaEdit (formerly Hydra) as an interim editor. SubEthaEdit is a freeware editor with syntax highlighting and (as a bonus) Rendezvous support. But, it still didn’t have tabs for multiple documents.

Since finding SubEthaEdit, I’ve searched for other suitable editors, but I couldn’t find even one freeware editor with a tabbed interface. So, for a lack of other options, I figured that I may need to consider shareware/commercial editors as well. In that vein, I went to VersionTracker to peruse their HTML Tools section. I checked every app — shareware or otherwise — I couldn’t find even one with a tabbed interface :-/.

Some may claim that tabs are against Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, but even Safari supports tabs (however, Apple does frown upon MDI interfaces). So, are tabbed interfaces a new thing to the Mac world or is there some mystical tabbed-editor that’s just been eluding me?

ProFont — Monospaced Programming Font

From Joel via MeteFilter’s thread on Arial vs Helvetica, I discovered ProFont, a monospaced font for programming (for Windows, Linux & Mac). Well, not that it’s “only for programming”, but that’s where it may be best suited.

According to his site, Tobias Jung was desperately seeking ProFont for quite some time. It was available on his Mac OS 9.1 box but he couldn’t find a suitable clone for his Windows setup at work. And, to his credit, Tobias doesn’t just wax nostalgic about the font; he also offers some compelling reasons for using it:

  • Slashed zeros
  • Differentiated Is and Ones
  • Distinct punctuation (colons, semicolons, et al)
  • Oversized parenthesis (and presumably brackets as well)

In short, it appears that ProFont has almost all you could ask for in a programming font. My only concern is that, while Tobias cites its small bitmapped nature as a benefit, I might find ProFont a bit tough to read at 1600x1200. Still, I think I’ll give it a chance (If you try it, Joel recommends the FON version, not the TTF version.)

Crimson Editor – 3.45 beta

Cool, I was pleased to discover that Crimson Editor v3.45 beta has been released today. For those not aware, Crimson Editor is a freeware source-code/text editor for Windows.

It may not quite be at the level of (say) TextPad, but TextPad isn’t free either. While I don’t believe that shareware is immorral, I do consider free software to better imbody the hacker ethos. I regard Crimson Editor as the current champ of source-code/text editors for Windows. Some features:

  • Multi-level Undo/Redo
  • Change-detection. That is, if a file changes on disk “out from under the feet” of the editor, the editor prompts the user whether he/she would like to reload the file.
  • Syntax Highlighting: HTML, CSS, C/C++, JavaScript, and so many other languages (even Python and LaTeX).
  • Auto-indent
  • Matching-parens highlighting. This is extremely handy for multi-level if-statements, for instance.

As far as what’s new in the 3.45 beta, I found this list of features to be included in 3.45 Final on the messageboard, and presumably the items that are listed as “done” are included in the beta.