BBEdit 12

I’m usually wary of reviews of complex software. A program with lots of features—especially one whose users will work with it every day, often for hours every day—can’t really be reviewed by someone who’s used it for only a few weeks.

So I smiled as I read Jason Snell’s and Michael Tsai’s reviews of BBEdit 12. They’ve both been using BBEdit for over 20 years, so they can’t be accused of making snap judgments. And of course they’re not really reviewing the product as a whole. It’s too big for that. Jason focused on just a few of the new features, column editing in particular,1 and Michael gave what may be the best endorsement one could ever give an application:

As a user, I appreciate that it pretty much never does anything to annoy me. This is rare.

That may seem like damning with faint praise, but if much of your professional time is spent using software (and I suspect that’s true for most of you), you know what a ringing endorsement it really is. And it’s in keeping with the Bare Bones motto: it doesn’t suck.

My history with BBEdit has been a little more complicated than Jason’s or Michael’s. Although I, too, started using it in the mid-90s, I had to drop it during my eight years as a Linux user. When I returned to the Mac in 2004-2005, I also returned to BBEdit. Then I switched to TextMate, and although I enjoyed its more Unixy flavor, I missed Split Text View, chunk undo, and the ability to open very large files without choking. Finally, I returned to BBEdit five or six years ago when it became clear that TextMate 2 and I were never going to get along. I haven’t seriously considered another editor since then.

Although I enjoyed reading Jason’s and Michael’s reviews, I can’t say they had any influence over me. I bought the BBEdit 12 upgrade as soon as I saw it was available.

  1. This is my favorite of the new features. I deal with comma-separated and tab-separated value files at least once a week, and being able to avoid the spreadsheet-to-BBEdit dance that Jason describes will be a big timesaver. In fact, column editing was the first thing I did after installing BBEdit 12, and it was on a real file for work, not some made-up test file.