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BBEdit 6.1 for Mac OS X

by Derrick Story

Understandably, many Mac OS X users are anxious for Microsoft Word to be Carbonized. I wouldn't mind seeing it myself. But since I'm a web author, MS Word isn't my critical text application -- BBEdit is. And BBEdit is ready to roll right now on Mac OS X.

BBEdit is, of course, Bare Bones Software's multipurpose text editor for web authors, programmers, writers, and anyone else who wants to generate clean text without lots of special characters and gobbly-gook mixed in. We're talking clean text here.

I'm going to tell you a little bit about the new Full version of BBEdit today and highlight some of its unique capabilities. Even though most Mac developers are familiar with the app in a general sense, many don't realize how nimble it really is in the cross-platform universe of web authoring and CD publishing. I'm going to mention some of my favorite features, and then give you a general feel for how the Carbonized version performs on Mac OS X.

Bare Bones has also released BBEdit Lite for Mac OS X. This is the free version that gives you unlimited use of its features. The Lite version doesn't have all of the goodies the Full version does, but it is amazingly capable and an absolute "must download." I'll mention its features throughout this article as appropriate.

Open sesame, BBEdit's new look

When you open your first BBEdit document, you're greeted with that beautiful Aqua dialogue box. If you've partitioned your hard drive the way I outlined in the Disaster-Free Upgrade to Mac OS X, you can open your existing BBEdit documents on the OS 9 partition, plus any other text document created by applications such as SimpleText, TextEdit, or even Microsoft Word as long as you saved it as a text file (.txt) and not a document file (.doc).

Screenshot of the Aqua dialogue box.
When you open your first BBEdit document, you're greeted with that beautiful Aqua dialogue box.

What you might not have realized, however, is that you can also open QuickTime movies, JPEGs, and Pict files. You can't edit and save these files, but you certainly can view them, and this is a very handy feature of both the Full and Lite versions.

Comment on this articleWhat are your favorite features in BBEdit? And do you have any BBEdit tricks to share?
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The Full version of BBEdit is particularly friendly to AppleScript and Perl authors. Each camp has its own set of tools available via a drop-down menu located on the top bar of the application. AppleScripters are provided with a script editor and a terrific scripting dictionary, plus lots of other goodies. Perl scripters get a very nice tools palette and lots of other features that facilitate speedy authoring.

Closing the deal, anyway you want

The one thing I absolutely love about BBEdit is the ability to save a document with the file creator, "save state," and line breaks of my choosing. This functionality is included in both the Lite and Full versions.

I like this feature because it allows me to easily create documents that launch the application I want to use for viewing them when double-clicked. If I write a ReadMe file, I want SimpleText to open when that ReadMe file is double-clicked. On the other hand, if I have an HTML document, I can save the file in BBEdit so that it will launch IE 5.

In the following illustration I've listed the same file saved four different ways using these controls in BBEdit. Notice how the icons are exactly as you would expect. This is a terrific way to create Apple Help documents that automatically launch the Help Viewer.

The same file saved four different ways using BBEdit controls.

The key to controlling these save states is understanding how to use the Options button. When you choose "save as" for a BBEdit file, click the Options button to reveal a new dialogue box that provides choices for the various save states. All you have to do is select the formats you want and click OK.

When creating documents for other platforms, such as ReadMe docs for Windows on a CD you're preparing to burn, set up your options like this:

  • File Creator: (generic text file)
  • Save State: None
  • Line Breaks: DOS

If you burn your CD on a Mac using ISO 9660 or another DOS-compatible format with the above parameters for your text files, they will look terrific on any Windows computer.

As you can see, the Options dialogue Box in BBEdit provides a wealth of flexibility, and is one of my favorite feature areas.

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