TweetFollow Us on Twitter

BBEdit: Somehow, It Still Doesn't Suck!

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: New Technology

Getting Started

by Dave Mark

BBEdit: Somehow, It Still Doesn't Suck!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a guy named Rich Siegel released a nice little piece of freeware named BBEdit. Released back in 1991, BBEdit was designed to edit text files and, as its famous marketing campaign trumpeted, it didn't suck. Over the years, we've seen a ton of software packages come and go, or become bloated with unnecessary features just to keep the update fairy happy. Somehow, BBEdit has kept its trim, unsucky figure, yet still managed to shoehorn in an amazing number of extremely useful features.

I recently upgraded to BBEdit 8, and thought it might be worth spending some time exploring BBEdit - the old, the new, and even an interesting, yet secret, nook and cranny or two. Before we get started, take a minute to download the BBEdit demo, if you don't already have it installed, of course. Here's the URL:

http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/demo.shtml

Multi-File Search

BBEdit 1.0 first shipped as freeware back in 1991. One of its most notable features was multi-file search and replace, one of the first applications to offer this. Over the years, BBEdit's multi-file search has evolved into an incredibly powerful tool, one that I find has uses far beyond BBEdit's environment. Here's an example.

Launch BBEdit. If it doesn't automatically create a new, untitled document, create one yourself or open your favorite text file.

Now select Find... from the Search menu. A dialog like the one shown in Figure 1 will appear. Enter some text to search for. In my case, I wanted to find some source code that worked with the IOBluetoothDevice class.

At the bottom of the dialog, I checked the Multi-File Search checkbox. This caused the Sources drawer to open off the left side of the window. There are several ways to populate this window. You can open a Finder window, select a folder that you'd like to search, and drag it into the Sources drawer. Another way is to click on the Other... button in the bottom-right of the window, then choose the folder you'd like added to your search list.

As you can see, you can even add a web site to your search list (love this feature). In addition, BBEdit automatically builds a list of your recent folders.


Figure 1. Multi-file Search.

Once you are happy with your search setup, click the Find All button. BBEdit will launch a thread for each specified directory and will return control to you. Each search is recursive with respect to the directory. Figure 2 shows my search, in progress, as it searches the Developer/Examples directory. BBEdit will recursively search each file in the directory, scanning its contents for the string IOBluetoothDevice.

When I took the screenshot in Figure 2, BBEdit had found 21 occurrences of the string. If I had clicked the Stop button, BBEdit would have presented me with a list of the 21 occurrences it had found so far.


Figure 2. A Search in progress.

Each search builds a list of results that you can work with. Figure 3 shows the results of my search for IOBluetoothDevice. There were 21 occurrences. As you might expect, the search window organizes the search results by file. Click on a result in the upper pane of the search results window and the appropriate file contents are scrolled into view in the bottom pane with the search string highlighted.

Want to edit the file? Click on the result and click the Open button (upper right corner of the search results window) or double-click on the result and the file will open for editing in BBEdit.


Figure 3. Working with the search results.

Opening Remote Files

Ever have to logon to an FTP site, just to edit a single file? Typically, you'll fire up your FTP client, download the file in question, edit the file, save it, then go back to your FTP client and upload the file again. If the file is part of a web site, you might repeat this cycle a number of times till you get things looking just right!

BBEdit offers the ability to open and edit remote files via FTP and SFTP. This means you can open, edit, and save the file, all without leaving BBEdit. And once you've opened the file remotely, you can edit, save, test, edit, save, test, all without leaving BBEdit.

Here's an example. In BBEdit, select Open from FTP/SFTP Server... from the File menu. When the open dialog appears, type in your favorite FTP server info. For anonymous FTP, leave the User Name and Password fields blank.

In my session, I connected to Apple's FTP server using the server name ftp.apple.com and anonymous FTP. To login, I pressed the Connect button. When the list of files at ftp.apple.com appeared, I double-clicked the developer directory, then selected one of the txt files in the directory and clicked the Open button (see Figure 4). The selected document opened in BBEdit. Since this particular FTP site does not give write permission to anonymous FTP, I was not able to save changes I made to the document, but if I did have the right permissions, I could have edited the doc and selected Save to save the changed doc back on the server.


Figure 4. Opening a remote file from Apple's FTP server.

AppleScript

BBEdit is one of the most studly AppleScript apps in existence. To give you a sense of this, Apple uses BBEdit to test new versions of the Apple Event Manager. BBEdit is recordable, meaning you can use tools like the Script Editor to record a sequence of BBEdit events as an AppleScript. BBEdit is scriptable, meaning you can write scripts that make use of BBEdit's object model to access and control any BBEdit objects. Finally, BBEdit is attachable, which means you can add scripts to the application itself.

To truly see this magnificent studliness for yourself, launch Script Editor and select Open Dictionary... from the File menu. When prompted, double-click on the BBEdit entry in the app list (see Figure 5).


Figure 5. Opening BBEdit's AppleScript dictionary.

Ordinarily, I would take the time to step through the dictionary, pointing out specific examples along with some interesting scripts. But the dictionary is so flipping big! And lovely! Open the dictionary in Script Editor and take a look for yourself.

Another way to explore BBEdit's AppleScriptiness is to launch BBEdit and select Open Scripts Folder (or just open BBEdit's BBEdit Support folder, Scripts subfolder). Open the sample scripts in Script Editor and play with them.

BBEdit Command Line Tool

When you run BBEdit for the first time, you are asked if you'd like to install the BBEdit command line tool. You definitely want to do this. The BBEdit command line tool is a Unix binary that passes data passed to it on to BBEdit. A few examples will help make this clear.

Launch Terminal. Type this command:

bbedit /usr/include/sys*.h

The BBEdit command line tool will launch BBEdit and open the files syslog.h and sysexits.h. For folks that are used to using text editors like vi and emacs will be delighted to have this powerful alternative to edit their Unix files. To take this one step further, emacs fans can go to the BBEdit menu, choose Preferences, select the Editing:Keyboard pane, then check the Use Emacs Key Bindings checkbox.

Here's another example. Type this command:

ls -l | bbedit

This command will do a long listing of the contents of the current directory, then use the Unix pipe tool (|) to send the results of that command to a BBEdit window. Beautiful!

Now try this one:

Man bbedit | bbedit

This will bring up the man-page for the bbedit command line tool in a BBEdit window. Worth a quick read, just to see what else you can do.

HTML Markup Tools

By far, one of the most common uses for BBEdit is to create and edit HTML. BBEdit is a great text editor, and you've probably seen the various menus that let you automatically construct and insert the various HTML tags in your document. You've probably also seen BBEdit's color coding of those same tags. But there's a bit more to the picture.

Start by selecting New HTML Document... from the File menu. A form appears that lets you specify a number of defaults for your document. Figure 6 shows a form I filled out to create my sample HTML doc.


Figure 6. Creating a new HTML document.

Once I clicked OK, a new editing window appeared, containing this HTML:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN"
        "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">
<html lang="en">
<head>
   <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
   <title>Dave's BBEdit Demo</title>
   <meta name="generator" content="BBEdit 8.0">
</head>
<body>

</body>
</html>

You should be able to follow along and see the connection between the various elements in the form and the actual HTML code that was generated.

Now find a picture on your hard drive somewhere and drag its icon onto the BBEdit window, preferably between the <body> and </body> tags. The dialog shown in Figure 7 will appear. Fill it in as you like, then click the Insert button.


Figure 7. Editing the <img> tag from a drag-and-drop operation.

Here's the <img> tag that was created from the dialog in Figure 7:

<img src="file://localhost/users/davemark/desktop/fur.jpg" alt="Picture of Fur" 
width="1600" height="1024">

Now for the coolest part. Click on the Markup menu and select Preview in BBEdit. A new window will open previewing the HTML you just created. BBEdit also allows you to preview in any browser you have installed on your hard drive. With this Preview capability, you can make changes to your HTML, preview it to see how it lays out, then edit and save and preview again.

If you've got modules like PHP installed on your local machine, you'll want to go to the BBEdit menu, choose Preferences, then select the HTML Web Sites pane. Double-click on the Untitled Site and edit the dialog shown in Figure 8.


Figure 8. Creating an HTML Web Site in the BBEdit Preferences.

Fill in the fields that describe the web site you are editing. If you are serving off your local machine, be sure to check the Use Local Preview Server checkbox. If it works on your local machine, BBEdit will take advantage of it. Serving pages locally means you don't have to edit and save files over the network. You can debug your entire site using BBEdit for editing and for preview. If you play with add-on modules like PHP and mySQL and you've not set up your own Mac as a local server, you should absolutely explore this option. A huge time saver.

The Doc Window

When you open multiple documents in Word, you get an individual window for each open document. When you open multiple documents in BBEdit, the documents are all listed in a drawer on the right side of the main editing window. Figure 9 shows an editing session with the documents drawer open, listing all the files currently open in BBEdit.


Figure 9. The document drawer.

Notice that the name of the currently edited document is in bold in the documents drawer. The diamond next to a doc indicates that it has not yet been saved. You can drag documents into and out of the documents drawer. If you look closely at Figure 9, you'll see that the doc being edited is a pdf. I dragged the pdf file from the desktop into the documents drawer and the pdf code appeared in the editing window. Pretty interesting stuff.

Drag a .jpg file onto the drawer and BBEdit will open a new window containing the image. Note that in this case, the .jpg appears in its own unique window and not as part of the documents drawer's "set". Drag a text doc (even an html, .rtf or .pdf, anything text-based) onto the doc and the document is added to the set.

Note the action popup menu in the upper-left corner of the documents drawer. You can use this menu to create a new, empty doc, close the current doc, or open the current doc in a new window, thus creating a new doc set. You can even drag docs between doc drawers, moving documents between sets.

You can open and close the doc drawer by clicking on the drawer icon in the upper-right corner of the main editing window. You can close individual docs by clicking on the x to the right of the appropriate doc name in the drawer.

You can also move between documents in a set by selecting the doc from the drop-down menu in the status bar, just below the icon bar in the main editing window or by clicking the left or right arrows in the navigation bar to move up or down the doc list.

Text Factory

One of my favorite features in BBEdit is the Text Factory. Text Factory? You'll see. Go to the File menu, select New, then Text Factory from the submenu. An untitled factory window will appear (see Figure 10).


Figure 10. A new, untitled Text Factory.

Your goal here is to build a set of rules that you can then apply to document's text. For example, in the default Text Factory in Figure 10, the Change Case operation is selected. Obviously, we'll use this operation to change the case in a document's text. If you click the Options... button to the right of this operation, you can set the specific Change Case options. As you can see in Figure 11, we'll set the specified text to ALL UPPER CASE.


Figure 11. This pane appears when you click the Options... button for the Change Case rule.

Click the + button to add a new operation, - to delete the current operation. Figure 12 shows the list of operations you can choose from.


Figure 12. The list of Text Factory operations.

Once you are happy with your Text Factory, you can click the Choose... button at the top of the window to select files on which to operate and click the Options... button to customize the search, then click the Apply button.

Alternatively, you can save your Text Factory (just as you would any other document) as a file on your hard drive. Once saved, click in the doc you want to change and select Apply Text Factory... from the Text menu. When prompted, choose the saved factory and it's operations will be applied.

Till Next Month...

There is just so much to write about, I could go on forever. Problem is, I've already way overstepped my page limit. Sorry folks, got carried away. But before I go, here are a pair of quick secrets that I think you'll enjoy.

I find the first one incredibly useful. Pick a doc to edit, then hold down the option key. The cursor should turn into a plus sign. Click and drag and BBEdit will create a rectangular selection. Try it, you'll like it.

To access the second secret, select About BBEdit from the BBEdit menu. Wait a few seconds. The about box will start to scroll. If you don't want to wait and you have a scroll wheel mouse, you can scroll the about box by hand.

But that's not really the secret. Hold down the command key and click on the about window's title. Cool! It's a very secret menu. Select each of the items and enjoy. See you next month!


Dave Mark is a long-time Mac developer and author and has written a number of books on Macintosh development, including Learn C on the Macintosh, Learn C++ on the Macintosh, and The Macintosh Programming Primer series. Dave's been busy lately cooking up his next concoction. Want a peek? http://www.spiderworks.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Apple iTunes 12.2 - Play Apple Music...
Apple iTunes lets you organize and stream Apple Music, download and watch video and listen to Podcasts. It can automatically download new music, app, and book purchases across all your devices and... Read more
Apple Security Update 2015-005 - For OS...
Apple Security Update 2015-005 is recommended for all users and improves the security of OS X. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.... Read more
Apple HP Printer Drivers 3.1 - For OS X...
Apple HP Printer Drivers includes the latest HP printing and scanning software for OS X Lion or later. For information about supported printer models, see this page. Version 3.1: The latest printing... Read more
Epson Printer Drivers 3.1 - For OS X 10....
Epson Printer Drivers installs the latest software for your EPSON printer or scanner for OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks, OS X Mountain Lion, and OS X Lion. For more information about printing and... Read more
Xcode 6.4 - Integrated development envir...
Xcode provides everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Xcode brings user interface design, coding, testing, and debugging into a united workflow. The Xcode... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 - Apple's lat...
OS X Yosemite is Apple's newest operating system for Mac. An elegant design that feels entirely fresh, yet inherently familiar. The apps you use every day, enhanced with new features. And a... Read more
Dash 3.0.2 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0 - Font management...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
Typinator 6.6 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
Arq 4.12.1 - Online backup to Google Dri...
Arq is super-easy online backup for the Mac. Back up to your own Google Drive storage (15GB free storage), your own Amazon Glacier ($.01/GB per month storage) or S3, or any SFTP server. Arq backs up... Read more

Hands-On With Raceline CC
Set for release soon, Rebellion’s motorbike racing game, Raceline CC certainly looks stylish. But how does it play? I got my hands on a preview build to answer exactly that. | Read more »
Siegefall - Tips, Tricks, and Strategies...
So, you fancy establishing a base and ruling the world again. Siegefall is a convenient place to do that, but how about some great tips and tricks on how best to go about it? Here are a few ideas on how to get ahead as a beginner to this medieval... | Read more »
The WWE Comes to Racing Rivals - Because...
Racing Rivals is a racing game that's all about, well, rivalry. And who knows rivalry better than WWE superstars (shhhh, that was rhetorical)? [Read more] | Read more »
Hey, Who Put Apple Music in My SoundHoun...
One of the App Store's popular music discovery sources - SoundHound - has already been updated to include Apple's own music discovery source - Apple Music. That was fast! [Read more] | Read more »
Arcane Legends has a New Expansion Calle...
Arcane Legends has been going strong since it debuted at the tail end of 2012. So well, in fact, that it's already up to its sixth expansion. [Read more] | Read more »
Vector 2 is Officially a Thing and it...
Vector is a pretty cool parkour-driven runner that's gotten a pretty decent following since it first came out - although personally I think more people could stand to show it some love. Anyway, Nekki has announced that a sequel isofficially on its... | Read more »
Get Ready to Trucksform and Roll Out (an...
It looks like NuOxygen is bringing the truck-transforming racer Trucksform (get it?) to iOS in a couple of weeks. Although really it's more of an auto-driver than a racer. But still, transforming trucks! [Read more] | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps:June 22-26, 2015
June's Summer Journey Continues With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice,... | Read more »
LEGO® Minifigures Online (Games)
LEGO® Minifigures Online 1.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
World of Tanks Blitz celebrates its firs...
Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of World of Tanks Blitz, the mobile version of the PC tank battler, World of Tanks. World of Tanks Blitz launched on iOS and Android on June 26th last year and to celebrate, Wargaming is giving all... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Releases OS X 10.10.4 With WIFi Fix, iO...
On Tuesday, Apple released final versions of OS X 10.10.4 and iOS 8.4, as well as updates for the Safari browser for OS X Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion. The OS X 10.10.4 update focuses on... Read more
Dual-Band High-Gain Antennas for Home Wi-Fi N...
Linksys has announced what it claims are the first dual-band, omni-directional high-gain antennas for the consumer market. The new Linksys high-gain antennas available in a 2- and 4-pack (WRT004ANT... Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 15-inch Retina MacBook...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1609, $390 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. They have... Read more
Clearance 2014 MacBook Airs available for up...
Adorama has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $301 off original MSRP including NY + NJ sales tax and free shipping: - 11″ 256GB MacBook Air: $798 $301 off original MSRP - 13″ 128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
5K iMacs on sale for $100 off MSRP, free ship...
B&H Photo has the new 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. They have the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2199, also $100... Read more
27-inch 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679, save $...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.2GHz iMac on sale for $1679.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Gray MacBook on sale for $1487...
Amazon.com has the new 12″ 1.2GHz Gray MacBook in stock and on sale for $1487 including free shipping. Their price is $102 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. We expect... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon.com has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1819 including free shipping. Their price is $180 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
OtterBox Releases New Symmetry Series Metalli...
Otterbox’s new Symmetry Series of smartphone cases flaunts the best of both both street style and street smarts with their new metallic finishes and trusted OtterBox protection for iPhone 6 and... Read more
Eliminate Cable Chaos with New GE Branded Wra...
GE licensee Jasco Products has introduced a new line of GE branded Wrap-n-Charge USB wall chargers with built-in cable management. “We are always working to combine great technology with innovative... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* TV Live Streaming Frameworks Test En...
**Job Summary** Work and contribute towards the engineering of Apple 's state-of-the-art products involving video, audio, and graphics in Interactive Media Group (IMG) at Read more
Project Manager, WW *Apple* Fulfillment Ope...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
Senior Data Scientist, *Apple* Retail - Onl...
**Job Summary** Apple Retail - Online sells Apple products to customers around the world. In addition to selling Apple products with unique services such as iPad Read more
*Apple* Music Producer - Apple (United State...
**Job Summary** Apple Music seeks a Producer to help shepherd some of the most important content and editorial initiatives within the music app, with a particular focus Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.