My (new) mate, TextMate

by Giles Turnbull

I didn't expect this to happen. I didn't plan on switching from one text editor to another. But that's what I've done - coughed up for a TextMate licence, and started using it, instead of BBEdit, as a writing tool.



BBEdit, which I've been using for the same task for some years now, has done nothing to annoy or frustrate me. There's nothing about it that I particularly dislike.



But TextMate offers everything I like in BBEdit and plenty more. TextMate feels really nice to write in, and for several days this week I enjoyed myself doing just that.



I hesitated, of course. I didn't want to just leap into the unknown, and there's a huge number of new keyboard shortcuts to learn. Shift+Control+N for a word count? Shift+Control+Option+M to use Markdown? I'll admit that some of these commands, especially the ones that involve three modifier keys, are tricky to remember. In some respects, TextMate is a simpler tool; in others, it feels vastly more complicated.



I'm hoping that the extra features in TextMate make this learning curve worthwhile. And I won't be deleting BBEdit from my hard disk any time soon - there's still situations when I think I'll need it ("Zap Gremlins", for instance).



Things I love about TextMate (so far):




  • Built-in support for Markdown (I write everything in Markdown)

  • Quick, easy document color schemes

  • Check spelling as you type

  • Windows behave well, open where I want them to (they don't always do this in BBEdit)

  • Simple preferences panel

  • Support for folding

  • Fast, incremental text search (hit Control+S, baby; I love this)



There's still a lot more for me to learn, but the curve is shallow, and I'm enjoying myself.



You got any TextMate tips?


10 Comments

erichudon
2005-12-23 17:04:50
Welcome to TextMate
Hi Giles,


I just bought my licence of TextMate on last monday.


I use it basically for ruby and rails stuff. But I've discovered a lot more for or html and xml for instance. I god rid of Taco. It's also great for editing shell script and python non mentioning the others...


The learning curve is really shallow. I soon started using it, I felt comfortable. I never liked BBEdit even if I gave it a fair try and even if it has great features.


I got through the help file which is good starting point to figure out the full capability of this baby. Definetly worth the read !

patriceneff
2005-12-23 17:35:23
Keyboard shortcuts
Just a reminder: You can change the keyboard shortcuts.


For example to change the shortcut for Markdown, open the language menu (in the status bar), scroll to the bottom and select "Edit Languages". There select the Markdown language and enter a new shortcut into the activation textbox.


Should also be documented in the shiny new documantion.

MrAndre
2005-12-23 18:05:20
The best feature

There is a textmate feature that may not get mentioned as often, but it's my favorite: Developer access. There is a textmate mailing list where users regularly bombard the dev with ideas and suggestions. Responses are immediate and thoughtful. I use the somewhat obscure Dvorak + command-Querty keyboard layout, and it wasn't working quite right, so I let Allan Odgaard know via the list. The fine fellow asked some questions, and fixed it up.


There is almost nothing you can't do with this editor. And if you do anythin with Ruby on Rails, this is the place to be.

ollieman
2005-12-23 19:47:12
textmate convert
TextMate is, by far, the best app on my mac.


The best feature is one unmentioned here, the expandability of the app. I can create custom snippets that combine pre-defined text, shell commands, macros and more which I can assign to a single key command. Amazing.

lfransson
2005-12-23 22:40:49
Argh
As if I'm not spending enough money lately, you're had to show me another application I'm going to buy!
wheeles
2005-12-24 01:02:29
Welcome Aboard!
I've been using TextMate for about a year now and I have nothing but praise for it and its developer, Allan. The feature set is large and growing rapidly.


I've set TextMate to fetch updates and it seems like every time I fire it up there is a new build available. There is also a subversion repository of bundles and plugins that I sync with a couple of times a day and there always seems to be new additions to it on every sync.


The ability to add custom macros or commands makes it feel a little like Emacs or Vim, but without quite as steep a learning curve. Although power users of those two editors are unlikely to switch, I can see TextMate gobbling up much of the market share that once seemed to be BBEdit's birthright.


With TextMate being a fraction of the price of BBEdit, BareBones will need to seriously up their game to justify such a huge difference in price.

manchileung
2005-12-26 20:24:23
i like it very much too but ...
there is no RTF support
i need more char encoding like Asian encoding (big5)
i miss the tab browsing too or at least, a drawer like to navigate multi-files. any advice?
p.k.
2005-12-27 09:51:44
Yes, TextMate
I never could "get into" BBEdit. It just looked clunky to me. I really don't like the look and feel of the Carbon applications. They just feel old and outdated.


I searched for many days to find a good text editor that I liked enough to use for my daily code hacking. I started using SubEthaEdit (before it was named that), but it didn't give me enough features. Plus I didn't have anyone else to collaborate with. Then I found VIM for the Mac. I love VIM and used it a whole lot. The only problem is that it's a Carbon app. It's GUI is very limited. It does not really fit in to the Mac feel.


So after about a year I finally found TextMate. This was the best text editor yet. And I'm still using it today. I'm still hoping for a few more refinements, but they will get here soon.


The biggest problems that I've had with TextMate is that it will slow down on large projects. Like the two second lag when switching from another app. It like to reset where it's view port is at after switching back to it. The line numbers scroll off the screen on long lines. Small issues like that.


But it's the best there is.

jaylaney
2005-12-29 12:48:59
Yeah, I had to plunk down cash too.
Giles-


I've been using TextMate for all of my development here at O'Reilly for about six months- and it's fit me perfectly everywhere else I use plain text. I wasn't a huge fan of the 1.0 release, but for some reason the 1.1 betas just clicked for me.


And I have no idea why, but text editors are a weird thing. They have to *feel* right and TextMate managed to pull that off.


// jay

Erika
2006-05-20 03:58:41
Hello guys,


I am Erika and looking for a textmate. I am 19 years old taking Accountancy at USC-Cebu.


My phone is 09282659504