Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Bare Bones Software’s venerable Mac text editor, BBEdit, has been under constant development since 1992 and just keeps getting better and better, with the latest release, BBEdit 13, adding several extremely useful new features.
I’ve told you before that I prefer to write in plain text and only apply formatting (i.e. use a word processor or page layout program) after I’ve finished most of the writing and rewriting. And while I love Ulysses and use it regularly, I still use BBEdit almost as often.
BBEdit Does Things Other Apps Don’t…
Why? Well, while Ulysses is great at letting me compose text, it’s not really designed for sophisticated text manipulation and searches. For example, BBEdit has included powerful GREP searches for as long as I can remember. (GREP stands for Globally search a Regular Expression and Print, or Global Regular Expression Parser, depending upon who you ask.)
Ulysses offers a decent enough search and replace function, but when things get complicated, I turn to BBEdit and craft a GREP query. For example, I often need to change a bunch of consecutive spaces to a single Tab character. Word processors (and Ulysses) offer no easy way to search for multiple spaces in a row and replace them; in BBEdit, I just type a space followed by a + (“ +”) for the Search pattern and “/t” for the Replace pattern.
In English that would read: “Find every Space character repeated one or more times and replace it with one Tab character.”
In the past, I would have to search the web for the proper GREP syntax and then fine-tune it by trial-and-error. But BBEdit 13 adds two new features that make using GREP almost as easy as using Search & Replace in other apps.
BBEdit 13 Offers More to Love
The first is a GREP Cheat Sheet button in the Find (and Replace) dialogs. Click it and a list of common GREP commands appears with examples and a description.
Click the appropriate command in the list—which includes options for finding only capital letters; lowercase letters; numbers from 0-9; any digit; characters repeated X number of times, characters at the beginning (or end) of a line (or a word), and many others—and the correct command magically appears in the Find or Replace field.
The second cool new thing is an interactive GREP Pattern Playground, which makes it easier to fine-tune your GREP search or replace patterns without affecting the underlying document.
There’s much more to like in BBEdit 13, but the new GREP Cheat Sheet and Pattern Playground knocked my socks off.
30-Day Free Trial With a Twist
Don’t take my word for it. Grab the fully functional 30-day trial (with a twist), that twist being that after 30 days you can continue to use BBEdit’s powerful editing capabilities (but not its advanced features) for free.
You can’t beat that.
If you need powerful GREP searches and much more in a text editor, you’ll love BBEdit 13.
One last thing: I understand BBEdit is also a fabulous tool for programmers. Sadly, that’s all I can tell you since I don’t do code (or Windows™). 😛
...and that’s all he wrote.
BBEdit 13. Bare Bones Software. $49.99. www.barebones.com