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BBEdit 9.6 Released; Still Doesn’t Suck

Need some entertainment? Lock about a dozen coders in a room and ask them to name the best text editor ever. When the hilarity finishes ensuing, chances are that at least several will have named BBEdit. For those coders, any news of a BBEdit update means a lot of virtual pushing as they all try to get to the Bare Bones Software servers all at once.

There must have been such a shoving match on 26 October 2010 as news of BBEdit 9.6 hit the Internet. After all, a major point release always brings with it new goodies as well as the expected bug fixes. And this release does have rich heaps of goodness. Well over a dozen new features, in fact, along with several dozen changes, and over 150 fixes listed in the BBEdit 9.6 release notes—and a bit of deprecation.

Web developers will be pleased to find a number of enhancements and additions, including the addition of HTML5 support—via a syntax table—for the Check Syntax, Tag Maker, and Edit Tag commands when an HTML5 document is being edited. Syntax coloring for CSS has also been improved, as has code completion for CSS properties, which now includes a colon and placeholder. And, speaking of code completion, BBEdit now recognizes the kind of HTML/XHTML document being edited and uses that doctype when generating tags and attributes.

Those developers who work on a number of different projects and who require different settings for each project can now specify settings based upon the directory in which the project resides: create a properly formatted INI file for BBEdit, give it any name that ends in .bbeditsettings, and save it. The settings in that file apply to any file opened from the directory in which the .bbeditsettings file resides—or to any files opened from directories beneath that directory in the file hierarchy.

BBEdit has provided Automator workflows for some time, but with version 9.6, Automator workflows can be placed in the ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Scripts/ folder and they will appear on the Scripts menu and in the Scripts palette.

Numerous changes have also been made to improve performance with large files and to remove some legacy limitations and features. For example, to improve performance with very large files, the soft-wrap text preference is ignored when you open files larger than a megabyte. You can adjust the threshold for disabling the preference if you regularly edit very large files and want to spend the time waiting for the text to wrap.

Along those lines, the Find All Misspelled Words command now only checks the first million characters of a file; this limit can also be changed. Similarly, BBEdit disables word-counting when a document is over 16 million characters long, but you can override that behavior as well.

Among the legacy items removed are the PageMill, GoLive, and Claris HomePage code cleaners. Also gone is the Markup > Inline > Convert to Client Side Map command. BBXT plug-in support is now sleeping with the fishes, too, a change which eliminates the Plug-Ins window from the Palettes menu, and which removes the Tools menu from the menu bar.

Then there are some usability tweaks. For example, the HTML formatter options have been renamed: Gentle Hierarchical format is now known as Pretty Print, and the Hierarchical formatter option is now called Strict Hierarchical.

One fix that sounds trivial, but which makes life a lot easier, relates to file comparison: if you are comparing two files, and either or both of them change on disk, BBEdit 9.6 recomputes the differences automatically.

Of course, none of the changes will affect every BBEdit user, but every user will find some changes to appreciate, complain about (beware the PageMill Fan Club!), or merely to ponder. In the last category is this listed addition: “Iä! Iä! Birdies fhtagn!” (No, we don’t know what it means, either, but we’re sure it means something to someone. Possibly someone from the sunken city of R’lyeh.)

BBEdit 9.6 is a free update to all users with a BBEdit 9 serial number; owners of BBEdit 2.5 through 8.7.2 can upgrade for $30. The retail price is $125, with a $49 price for educational purchasers. A free 30-day trial is available.

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