Those of you who have been around for a decade or so probably remember Easy View, Akif Eyler’s free text browsing utility. Easy View understood a number of text formats, including the setext format that we use for the text edition of TidBITS, and provided a three-pane view into TidBITS. One pane listed issues, the second listed articles in an issue, and the third large pane displayed the actual text of the article. Alas, Akif moved on to other things, and although he donated the source of Easy View to anyone who wanted to update it, nothing ever came of it.
Now, however, Kevin LaCoste of ZenVilla Software has released XBit 1.0, an Easy View-like utility for Mac OS X that provides a triple-pane approach to viewing the setext issues of TidBITS. Although XBit doesn’t have some of Easy View’s flexibility in indexing multiple formats, it uses a better pane display, can mark articles and issues as read so you can keep track of your progress, and it can download new issues from our FTP server automatically. XBit can search inside an article, but not across multiple articles.
At $15, XBit isn’t free, but you can download a fully functional, non-expiring demo. To be clear, I have no problem with Kevin charging for this utility; he’s not making money from TidBITS itself (which would be a no-no), and he developed XBit entirely on his own with no help or input from us. I don’t know that there’s much of a market for XBit, given all the other ways people can receive, read, and search TidBITS, but that’s Kevin’s concern. I do need to make clear up front that I can’t guarantee we’ll continue to use the setext format or provide issues for download via FTP indefinitely, although Kevin will always be able to access whatever public formats and services we do provide just like everyone else. Still, if you’re a fan of browsing text collections offline in a dedicated program, XBit is worth a quick look.