BBEdit 8.5: first impressions

by Giles Turnbull

OK, I've been messing around with the new release for a little while now, and here are some first impressions.

Check spelling as you type has been added, and BBEdit-using journalists and writers out there will be jumping for joy. Honestly, this was one of the main things that used to annoy me about the previous versions, and made me flirt with rivals like TextMate. Talking of which...

TextMate's influence is clear. Renaming the Glossary as "Clippings" is the most obvious evidence of this.


2006-09-07 07:52:35
can't wait for TextMate new release!
Christian Bogen
2006-09-07 08:26:51
Thoughts on the price: If you already own a BBedit license upgrading probably is the way to go but I doubt that even the new release is a big incentive for registered TextMate users to jump ship. After all, even with educational discount a full BBedit license comes to $125 (I'm not unsure if the TextWrangler crossgrade can be combined with the educational discount but I doubt it'd bring the price tag down to $50 ...).
2006-09-07 08:33:00
I believe the BBEdit upgrade is not worth it.

1) The interface has changed. Status bar items have been moved and are not where I expect them to be. Do the icons really need to be that huge?

2) The price is too steep for a point upgrade. Come on guys I just paid $50 for an upgrade last year.

3) Running a shell script from the menu still freezes the whole application.

4) The status bar is much bigger than before and so is the preferences dialog.

5) It still doesn't remember what files were open when I quit.

6) No preference to use PathFinder instead of Finder.

7) I do not see a way to make the status bar use smaller icons or to turn on text labels.

8) The error window is still not editable.

I've only been using BBEdit since version 4.5 and this is the first upgrade I will not pay for.

Rich Siegel
2006-09-07 08:34:37
@Christian Bogen: We introduced an educational price of US$49 a while back, and that remains in place for BBEdit 8.5.
2006-09-07 08:37:35

Looks to me like a full educational BBEdit license is $49, not $125 -- a full retail (non-educational) license is $125.

And the educational upgrade price that's listed is $25.

2006-09-07 09:07:03
The check spelling as you type was the first thing I noticed. It's a VERY welcome addition; it'll probably be a while before I stop hitting Apple-; out of habit. :)

I also noticed SQL syntax highlighting right off the bat. Excellent.

I wonder why the interface overhaul, but no unified toolbar..? The icons are better than the previous, I agree, but they're a bit large. Maybe we'll get a "Use Small Icons" preference in an incremental update.

2006-09-07 09:37:46
I've been using Smultron for the past 6 months and for css/xhtml I would choose nothing else. The developer consistently releases updates with new features and bug fixes. This is the first text editor in a long while that has hit the sweet spot and the fact that it is freeware/donationware is just amazing. Older versions were a bit strange and I never stuck with it... but these last few months have seen great improvement.

I've tried TextMate and BBedit and like them both. But really, in terms of cost and features, Smultron is perfect for me.

CM Harrington
2006-09-07 13:04:59
Quite a few of the interface "improvements" that are made are *horrible*. In the UI/IA/User Experience field, Preferences are the last resort of the untrained IA. People make things preferences when they don't know what to do with something. If your preferences are so random and chaotic that you need a search function to find them, well, that says something, doesn't it?

Take a look at the screenshot they provide... What's up with the two "i" icons? How is that at all meaningful?

This release was *specifically* to get code folding out the door, to stop the hemorrhaging from Textmate. I'm still a BBEdit user, but I don't feel the need to upgrade, even though I *really* want code folding in BBEdit.

2006-09-07 14:10:03
Amazing you can go on about this dog. If the price was $500 you'd praise it all the more. It's obvious you're a journalist and not an IT pro.
2006-09-07 14:12:09
@Denny: yes, Smultron is good. And it's not exactly hyped. And no, YOU didn't get paid to hype it. But Smultron is free, so you won't see Giles pushing it.
2006-09-07 14:22:10
@CM Harrington: NeXT had code folding in their PBX editor FIFTEEN years ago.
2006-09-07 15:01:50
@Aragorn: Your assertion is wrong. Back in July this year, I wrote a very similar post with my initial impressions of Smultron 2.0 which I liked then and still like now.

I happen to like a lot of free software products, in fact in the past I've gone out of my way to write about them and recommend them to people.

2006-09-08 06:42:20
heh it still 125$ from scratch....whoch one would you buy???
2006-09-08 09:55:56
"The new toolbar icons are better than the old ones"

You are joking aren't you? The new icons are huge and hideous. A 2cm poorly iconised pencil to lock a file - not independently removable. The old little icons were lean, and had a classic look about them. Hopefully, the BBEdit team will sort this area of the window out - an option to have smaller icons would be a start. But why can't I customize that bar like I can with Transmit (another 'geeky' company but one that clearly have a great designer on their team).

BBedit guys! I love your product but getting 5 - 10 decent icons, that you can use forever, surely cannot be such a problem for a product that costs $120. It's amazing that my decision to close that area of the window is not due to its functionality but rather because I can't stand to look at it.

Also, I've moved my .icn files from 7.x to 8.5 back. The old finder icons a la 7.x were better, because they scaled - i.e. looked better at small sizes. Of course, we are all happy that the worst 'B' in the history of typography has been removed. It always made me smile that the ultimate text-editor of all things had an icon with B more at home on an invite for a 3-years old birthday party.

2006-09-10 08:30:06
Thanks, Rich, I wasn't aware of that! :)
2006-09-10 08:33:45
@Rich Siegel (again): Huh, when clicking on the Educational Discount link ( on the BBEdit page, the price for the full version is still given as $125. Did I miss something?
2006-09-10 08:43:35
Update: Ok, I found it. Maybe I was naive to expect to see the educational prices right after clicking on "Educational Discount" ... %-)
2006-09-19 19:55:02
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the addition of auto-save. BBEdit rarely crashes, but in the past a crash could be devastating.

However, code-folding could be improved. I wish I could fold away blocks like if statements and loops.