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

BusyContacts 1.1.8 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Arq 5.8.5 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more
Backblaze 4.3.0.44 - Online backup servi...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Instaradio 7.1 - Listen to your favorite...
Instaradio is fast, and it could be the radio player you have been waiting for. Try the app thousands of people rely on for listening to radio. Features Listen to radio from all around the world... Read more
EtreCheck 3.3.3 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.2.1- - Binary disa...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32-bit and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about... Read more
Slack 2.6.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.6.2: Fixed Inexplicably, context menus and spell-check... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.3.4 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more
Numi 3.15 - Menu-bar calculator supports...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.14 - Subscription-based p...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Goat Simulator PAYDAY (Games)
Goat Simulator PAYDAY 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICES **iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better Goat Simulator: Payday is the most... | Read more »
Zombie Gunship Survival Beginner's...
The much anticipated Zombie Gunship Survival is here. In this latest entry in the Zombie Gunship franchise, you're tasked with supporting ground troops and protecting your base from the zombie horde. There's a lot of rich base building fun, and... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish (Games)
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish 1.2.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.2.2 (iTunes) Description: Explore the ruins of the City of Mordheim, clash with other scavenging warbands and collect Wyrdstone -... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish brings tablet...
Legendary Games has just launched Mordheim: Warband Skirmish, a new turn-based action game for iOS and Android. | Read more »
Magikarp Jump splashes onto Android worl...
If you're tired ofPokémon GObut still want something to satisfy your mobilePokémon fix,Magikarp Jumpmay just do the trick. It's out now on Android devices the world over. While it looks like a simple arcade jumper, there's quite a bit more to it... | Read more »
Purrfectly charming open-world RPG Cat Q...
Cat Quest, an expansive open-world RPG from former Koei-Tecmo developers, got a new gameplay trailer today. The video showcases the combat and exploration features of this feline-themed RPG. Cat puns abound as you travel across a large map in a... | Read more »
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels (Games)
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** WARNING: iPad 2, iPad Mini 1 & iPhone 4S are NOT compatible. ** *** Special Launch Price for a limited... | Read more »
Subdivision Infinity (Games)
Subdivision Infinity 1.03 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.03 (iTunes) Description: Launch sale! 40% Off! Subdivision Infinity is an immersive and pulse pounding sci-fi 3D space shooter. https://www.... | Read more »
Clash of Clans' gets a huge new upd...
Clash of Clans just got a massive new update, and that's not hyperbole. The update easily tacks on a whole new game's worth of content to the hit base building game. In the update, that mysterious boat on the edge of the map has been repaired and... | Read more »
Thimbleweed Park officially headed to iO...
Welp, it's official. Thimbleweed Park will be getting a mobile version. After lots of wondering and speculation, the developers confirmed it today. Thimbleweed Park will be available on both iOS and Android sometime in the near future. There's no... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 11-inch MacBook Ai...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models recently discontinued by Apple), available for up to $170 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1449.99 $150 off... Read more
15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro o...
MacMall has the 15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLW82LL/A) on sale for $2569 as part of their Memorial Day sale. Shipping is free. Their price is $230 off MSRP. Read more
Free Tread Wisely Mobile App Endorsed By Fath...
Just in time for the summer driving season, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has announced the launch of a new Tread Wisely mobile app. Designed to promote tire and vehicle safety among teens and... Read more
Commercial Notebooks And Detachable Tablets W...
Worldwide shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs), comprised of traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are forecast to... Read more
Best value this Memorial Day weekend: Touch B...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros available for $230 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973 with free...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973, $16 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros (MJLQ2LL/A) available for $1749.99 including free shipping. Apple charges $1999 for this model, so Amazon’s price is represents a $250 savings. Note that... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Mac and Mobility Engineer - Infogrou...
Title: Apple Mac and Mobility Engineer Location: Portland, OR Area Type: 12 month contract Job: 17412 Here's a chance to take your skills to the limit, learn new Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, White P...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**509110BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 000048-Topeka-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Computing Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.