Is it a blog or an article?

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

My recent blog entry regarding BBEdit and TextMate was the cause of much correspondence with users of both applications. While I had posted this little piece in a desire to appease a "battle of the editors" that seemed to me of little interest, I have been most surprised to find both my personal inbox and the blog's comments filled with replies, both positive and negative. In fact, I expected so little reaction from this article that I posted it at the end of a day in France, unlike some that I know need to be written early so as to "get ready" for the comments - yes, I still do make it a point to read everything and, if at all possible, reply to everything my esteemed readers send me.


2006-03-08 12:01:58
Your blog post (before comment) made me, a BBEdit user, want to check out TextMate, and I did not see your TextMate comments as an attack. I actually refrain from updating BBEdit because I would have to rewrite all my GREP statements on an upgrade.

Lets say 90 percent of all users of software, only use 10 percent of that programs abilities. That becomes their workflow, and their habit, things they can do in their sleep. This is really the basis for almost all preference. Inertia. It might also account for why people might use two different applications, when they could do the same using only one of the applications. And this is one reason why I agree with your underlying comment... neither will win. And as one person commented, it is old as the battle between vi and emacs. I was surprised hackles were raised.

2006-03-08 12:55:22

Thanks for sharing your experience and taking the time to post!


2006-03-08 13:55:46
I first heard about TextMate while reading the article on Ruby on Rails on Apple's web developer site. I usually use BBEdit for all text editing needs beyond simple configuration file modifications - vi is fast and easy for that purpose and I prefer it to emacs only since I know the key commands for vi. So I would agree with Bud: inertia is part of the reason. Ultimately, when editing text I want it the job done fast and without the need to spend time on learning the editors interface. I'd also agree that reading your post made me curious to test TextMate, just to know what I am missing. I'll definitely do that now with your second post. After all, a piece of software that evokes flamewars is certainly worth checking out, isn't it?
2006-03-08 14:21:24

It certainly is! Thanks for taking the time to post.


Small Paul
2006-03-08 14:56:16
Ah, we all know that the first rule of Mac text editors is that you don't talk about Mac text editors :)
2006-03-08 16:48:30
I use several editors for different tasks - maybe one day someone will combine their strengths into The Perfect Editor, but it'd probably only please me anyway... ;) I use BBEdit a lot for converting between character sets (I guess TextWrangler probably does that now?), TextMate for its handling of nested folders (and that column editing, though in truth I always forget to use it), and SubEthaEdit because it's prettier than both! For Mac programming, using anything other than the XCode editor seems more trouble than just learning to get along with it, and it's much more comfortable from v2 on...

For me, the biggest failing in all of these is printing (for source code, at least) - none of them produce printouts I like looking at (and it's not my code, honest!). For printing, I fall back to my trusty vi - with minimal configuration, you can just use :ha and get neat, syntax highlighted duplex documents on a postscript printer... Perfect!

Maybe the ideal editor would have tabbed interface editor engines instead of documents? A bunch of sympathetic keybindings is really missing the point... Wouldn't a vi tab in XCode be perfect? :)

Randal L. Schwartz
2006-03-09 06:34:33
Yes, editors are a highly personal thing. And everyone knows, the clear winner is Carbonized Emacs, built daily from the CVS HEAD. I'm not surprised you didn't include that in your comparison, as it would have been an unfair competition.
William D. Neumann
2006-03-09 08:53:37
Rufus, regarding the printing, that's one of the places I really like the scriptability of Textmate.

I was able to dash off a quick command that sends the contents of the current file to a2ps for formatting and pretty printing. At the moment it's just for my OCaml code and a set of fixed preferences, but it would only take a bit more work to generalize it to other filetypes and options (but I rarely print them, so I can't be bothered...). Still, it was extremely easy to do, and is now just a keystroke away.

2006-03-09 09:20:03
Small Paul,

LOL! It indeed seems to be an extremely touchy topic… Although, in all fairness, I do enjoy a good debate once in a while!


2006-03-09 09:21:27

You certainly outline some very interesting options… Am I wrong in thinking adding text editing capabilities to applications should be doable through plug-ins, much like you add a QuickTime plug-in to your web browser? Of course, I realize it is bordering on technically impossible but one can dream! ;^)


2006-03-09 09:22:15

LOL! Why not after all? Each trade its tool of choice!


2006-03-09 09:22:51

Thanks for sharing this tip with us, I'm sure it will be of great use to many users!


2006-03-10 13:09:33
I think the big problem here is that many people find it difficult to distinguish "blog entries" from genuine articles. You often write a blog-entry, but it *looks* like an article, and hence receives a lot of flak - as the entry referred to is an opinion piece and not a balanced view.

I would suggest O'Reilly/ FJ looks at splitting Mac DevCenter up and clearly delineating "personal opinion" and objective articles.

2006-03-11 03:58:38

Thank you for your suggestion. While I do not have a direct influence on such matters, I have forwarded your feedback up the chain.