Mate Master: Allan Odgaard

by Joshua Scott Emmons


Allan Odgaard has written a number of applications and utilities in his time as a programmer. He’s written demos for the C64 and calendar apps for the Amiga. He even wrote a nifty MP3 player called MusicMate. But that’s not the “mate” he’s best known for. Allan is the lead- and sole-developer of TextMate, a very highly rated text editor for OS X.


TextMate has, over the past year, undergone an explosion not just in popularity, but also in stability and usability. This sort of critical-mass exponential growth is something we’re used to seeing from, say, open source software. And TextMate does make great use of OSS scripting languages like ruby, perl, and python. But the application itself is closed-source and Allan is its only developer. How has he managed to stay so productive over the past year?


2006-06-12 11:05:19
> The Mac community is lucky to have Allan -- for as long as we can keep him.

Frankly, no matter the merits of TextMate, I would say Allan is the lucky one having loyal users willing to pay extra for a text editor.

Joshua Emmons
2006-06-12 12:28:57
Frankly, no matter the merits of TextMate, I would say Allan is the lucky one having loyal users willing to pay extra for a text editor.

While I have no doubt that Allan feels lucky that he has the users he does, I object to the insinuation that TextMate requires its users to "pay extra". TextMate is an excellent piece of software that Allan has worked long and hard on. It offers many features not found anywhere else. When I bought my copy, I felt I was getting a bargain. Many feel the same.

But moreover, TextMate, like most indie software, comes with a generous 30-day trial that should be enough to let any user decide for themselves whether the software is worth the price. Therefore anyone who complains about "paying extra" either didn't make full use of this trial period and purchased software they didn't need, or accidentally bought two copies. My sympathies go out to the latter, but never the former.

2006-06-12 14:10:21
Frankly, I'm really irked by an all-too-common, selfishly narrow attitude of expectation that software development should be charity work, as Anonymous' comment seemed to imply (to me anyway). Does s/he think it's unreasonable for people to compensate Allan by paying for a high quality, well supported product like TextMate if they're using it? Sigh.

I enjoyed the interview, Joshua -- thanks. Unfortunately it was tainted by that first comment, which I couldn't ignore but will soon forget.

2006-06-12 15:34:14
Anonymous here again. As I said, my original comment had nothing to do with the merits of TextMate, nor does it have anything to do with for-pay versus free software. It's a fine program. I've used it, and I've purchased a license for it because I consider it worthwhile.

It has to do with what I consider to be the insulting tone of the post, most especially in that last line I quoted, but throughout what is, to me, a poorly worded puff piece that insults "The Mac community". Any independent software developer *should* feel lucky that people want to purchase their product, *especially* if there are reasonable alternatives that are free or less expensive.

Again, this is nothing to do with TextMate, really, just what I consider to be a poor attitude by the writer.

2006-06-12 16:43:19
So, I guess Joshua's attitude struck you poorly and yours came across poorly to him and I. Sorry for misunderstanding your intention, which the followup makes clearer. 'Nuf said.
2006-06-14 15:28:31
i just read the article three times trying for the life of me to figure out how 'Anonymous' concluded that it is a "poorly worded puff piece that insults the Mac community". As a long-time member of the Mac community I have concluded that 'Anonymous' was smoking crack when he/she decided to comment on the article.

I have been using BBEdit for like EVER, and even though I dropped $200 on BBEdit I was not satified with it and so started searching for another editor. I searched for other Mac editors that had decent support for PHP, Ruby, XHTML, etc. and actually felt LUCKY when I discovered TextMate - because it supports all of these and more so well. There are other editors out there, sure, and the majority of them cost $$$ as well. But so far none of them have as much value as TextMate considering its features, expandability and the fact that it costs $49. It's NOT just a "text editor" as Anonymous insists.

So as a developer who prefers to develop on a Mac, I DO feel very lucky to have TextMate as an option, and was glad to pay $49 for a license. I hope that Allan continues to develop for the Mac for a long, long time.

2006-06-17 18:43:56
Clear and thoughtful rebuttal, tu11ym0n.
2006-06-21 15:16:04
I paid for TextMate just as soon as it became clear to me that I could never go back to BBedit (although, I would like split-pane views sometime this century !). TextMate just gets better and better - the time saving that things like the tab-trigger commands allow has easily paid off many, many times over the cost of purchase.

Yes there are free text editors - heck, Mac OS X ships with at least three or four programming editors (X Code, and vi, emacs, pico, etc. etc) - but they pale in comparison to TextMate.

2006-06-28 06:55:56
Textmate is the only software i've purchased a licence for...
So, yes there are free editors out there... but IMO Textmate is worth every cent of its $49...
2006-07-11 09:31:01
TextMate is the only editor that I prefer to emacs. It is clearly worth the money. I only worry that it will not have the longevity of open source.
2006-07-12 04:47:29
I've spent serious time in vim, jEdit, BBEdit, UltraEdit (Windows), and EditPlus (Windows). IMHO, Textmate blows them all away. Thanks Allan! And as far as the cost goes, I spend nearly every day of my life in Textmate. I consider the $49 to be a tremendous value.