Scot Finnie on BBEdit

by Giles Turnbull

Computerworld’s Scot Finnie has switched to Macs and OS X after years of using Windows. He’s presently going through the now-familiar pattern of trying out dozens of Mac apps to find the ones he likes.

Scot has begun drafting what he calls the “A-list of Mac software”, apps that he considers the best in each category.

His article makes for an interesting read. Some of the gripes he has with various apps (such as Mail lacking support for rules applied to outgoing messages) are well-known and perfectly valid. Others are a little more controversial. Here’s what Scott has to say about BBEdit:

It’s woefully inadequate for HTML editing. BBEdit is extremely powerful, but I’d rather use the Unix command line than its clunky, sometimes ridiculous user interface. BBEdit continues to be my primary text editor because it does things no other program does, but there’s no way this product is a useful HTML editor. Those of you who are using it that way, you’re using a tool akin to an iron maiden — it’s just painful. Give yourself a break and find something else.


Joe Gillespie
2007-03-12 08:07:18
I have tried (and reviewed) all HTML editors on Mac and Windows platforms. I have not found anything to touch BBEdit for producing Web Pages. It gives the perfect balance of accuracy (valid markup) and ease of use (inserted markup from menus) and the live preview is unmatched in any other program. The interface is a model of usability devoid of pointless icons and is highly customisable. Let Scot Finnie show some of the web sites he has done with the UNIX command line and I will show some I have done with BBEdit! The proof is in the pudding.
2007-03-12 09:21:32
He doesn't seem to explain exactly what is wrong with BBEdit's HTML features. I think they are perfect for what I do, namely hand-writing HTML. What exactly is his gripe with BBEdit?
William D. Neumann
2007-03-12 10:55:25
That's kind of funny as I've always felt that the only thing BBEdit did well was HTML.
He's like Bizarro Me.
2007-03-12 12:34:45
Is it this phenomenon?

"any user who spends any significant amount of time with any one text editor -- I'm talking years, here -- will build up a set of usage patterns ... Because of this, switching text editors is incredibly disruptive to one's workflow and results in some awesome 'religious wars'."

I wouldn't expect Scott Finnie to have "comfortable usage patterns" for an editor on a platform he's never used. I haven't used BBEdit, but AFAIK it's been around for years -- before OS X even existed. I'd be surprised if it even behaved like most OS X apps let alone what Scott would be used to on another platform.

2007-03-12 14:48:49
I stopped reading the article at that point- if he's that far off on BBEdit, how useful could his other comments be?

I figured he did me a favor by putting that bit of idiocy up front and saved me a few minutes of wasted time.

2007-03-12 18:58:03

He said it's powerful. It is. But the interface is fucking *sad*. Look at the other text editors that have cropped up in the last couple of years. Their UIs blow BBEdit out of the water.

BBEdit's awesomely powerful, but the interface is a sad relic from the days of System 7.5.

* I use BBEdit every single day, but only because of its overall feature set and speed. The interface still sucks rocks.

2007-03-13 01:18:07
Okay, "me", but you still haven't told us what exactly sucks about BBEdit's interface. Hit Cmd-M to get the insert tag window. Hit Cmd-Alt-M to edit tag attributes. You can format HTML, tidy it, all using the keyboard. What am I missing here? Buttons or something?
David Kurtz
2007-03-14 12:23:39
Astounding. Editor wars abound, but seriously, "woefully inadequate" as an HTML editor? I wouldn't take anything he says seriously after that. He goes on to recommend Taco Edit... nice for a free app, but not even in the same league.

For me, a good editor is not just how it looks painted on the screen, but how I can customize and extend it to my particular needs. BBEdit, vim, emacs, TextMate, all have good search & replace and tie in well with the OS and underlying scripting architecture.

Taco Edit.