This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2017-03-03 at 9:23 a.m.
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Bare Bones Drops TextWrangler for BBEdit’s “Free Forever” Demo

by Josh Centers

Over a decade ago, Bare Bones Software replaced the free BBEdit Lite with TextWrangler, which at the time cost $50 (see “Bare Bones Rustles Up TextWrangler 1.0 [1],” 3 March 2003). With version 2.0, Bare Bones made TextWrangler free to raise the bar for competing text editors (see “Macworld Expo San Francisco 2005 Superlatives [2],” 17 January 2005), and since then TextWrangler has served as an ambassador for BBEdit. That started to change with BBEdit 11.6, which introduced a free indefinite “demo” mode (see “BBEdit 11.6 [3],” 11 July 2016).

Now Bare Bones Software is officially sunsetting TextWrangler [4]. When the next version of macOS ships, Bare Bones Software will keep updating BBEdit but will no longer update TextWrangler.

If you use TextWrangler, this means you should switch to the latest version of BBEdit soon. You can use all of BBEdit’s features for a 30-day evaluation period, after which you can continue to use it indefinitely, albeit with a reduced feature set and markers on the disabled commands. Even in this mode, BBEdit 11.6 has many more features [5] than the current version of TextWrangler. Along with ponies, other options include synced settings via Dropbox or iCloud Drive, live previewing of HTML and Markdown documents, and access to BBEdit’s power from within Automator workflows.

Educational institutions that want to distribute BBEdit without buying a full license, such as on loaner machines or classroom Macs, can request a special license code from [6]. Copies of BBEdit licensed in this way won’t display the paid-license menu commands at all, and there will be no evaluation mode prompts. In other words, it’s just like using TextWrangler in the past, but with extra features. For educational discounts on one or more copies of the full version of BBEdit, contact Bare Bones, and of course, any organization interested in site licensing should contact Bare Bones for discount pricing.

Overall, this move is a win for everyone. TextWrangler users get more features for free and can see more easily if upgrading to BBEdit would be helpful, the upgrade path becomes significantly more obvious, and Bare Bones doesn’t have to spend additional time on a separate product.