Bare Bones Software has released the latest version of the long-standing text editor BBEdit, adding just a few new user-facing features but making many small refinements.
Most notable among BBEdit 9.5's changes is the addition of a Live Search bar that appears at the top of the editing window when you choose Search > Live Search (or press Command-Option-F). It looks and works much like the in-page search field in Safari, presenting a search field and highlighting all matches as you type. It also shows the number of matches and a pair of arrows that step the actual text selection forward and back through the matches (Return and Shift-Return also step through matches). Live searches are always literal and case-insensitive. Live Search replaces the Quick Search window from previous versions; I never found that window useful, but I think Live Search will prove far more effective.
Perhaps even more important, but of interest to fewer users, is BBEdit's significantly enhanced script attachability. In the past (and I bet most people don't know this), you could attach a script to a BBEdit menu item in the Menus pane of BBEdit's Preferences window. That's actually quite compelling, if you think about it, since it means you can extend any standard menu command to perform additional actions when selected by the user. What's new in 9.5 is the capability to attach scripts to 15 application and document events. This means that BBEdit can more easily be integrated into other workflows because scripts placed in ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Attachment Scripts can now extend BBEdit's functionality based on events happening within the application, such as opening, closing, and saving documents. We're already playing with how this can smooth our Subversion-based document collaboration workflow.
For more information on attachability, consult the program's user manual, accessible from the Help menu. It's also worth noting that Bare Bones put some effort into cleaning up BBEdit's online help for 9.5, bringing it up to date, making styles consistent, and covering new features.
BBEdit has been able to look inside tarball files for some time; new in version 9.5 is the capability to look inside ZIP archives as well, in the program's disk browser windows. It displays only files that BBEdit can read, and files are read-only, but if you try to make a change, BBEdit prompts you to save a copy of the file elsewhere. In a subtle but useful twist, this feature lets you peer inside EPUB-based ebooks, since the EPUB format uses ZIP as a packaging format for its XML and CSS files. Drop a ZIP archive or EPUB file on BBEdit to see how this works.
Subversion support has been integrated into different parts of the program. There's a new menu button at the bottom of disk browsers and project windows that contains Subversion commands, and the contextual menu in project lists also now contains Subversion commands. Finally, if any matches in a results window from a search across multiple files are in files within a Subversion working copy, Control-clicking one now reveals a contextual menu that contains appropriate Subversion commands.
Beyond these feature additions, BBEdit 9.5 has evolved in many small ways, with numerous changes and bug fixes. For instance:
- The internal format of saved document state now captures only those settings that are fundamental to the document or different from the defaults - this should resolve confusion caused by documents not picking up changes made to global preferences. You can reset the current document's display and editing settings to the current defaults with the new Edit > Normalize Options command.
- BBEdit now remembers preview window positions on a per-document basis, falling back to the position indicated by the Window > Save Default Window command if the preview window position isn't set explicitly.
- If a window contains multiple documents, its submenu in the Window menu now contains diamonds to indicate documents with unsaved changes.
- If a file that's open in BBEdit changes on disk, and the copy in BBEdit has unsaved changes, you're now given the option to ignore future changes to that file as long as it remains open.
- A Replace All command in a text factory no longer generates a results window.
- The Open Hidden command has been removed from the File menu, having been replaced by the Show Hidden Items checkbox in all Open dialogs.
For those reading the extensive release notes carefully (and if you're a serious BBEdit user, you really should), be sure to note how the ponies' shoes have been reinforced.
One last change that's worth noting is that BBEdit now requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later, running on either a PowerPC- or Intel-based Mac. According to Rich Siegel of Bare Bones, supporting earlier versions of Mac OS X is becoming much more difficult because of feature disparity between OS versions, the effort of working around old OS bugs fixed in later releases, and the significantly larger test matrix older versions require.