BBEdit 6

A decent text-editor isn’t the sexiest piece of software you’ll ever install on your shimmering G4 Cube, but it may well be one of the most useful. Leading the way on the Mac is BBEdit, a fast, funky and highly functional word cruncher that can satisfy just about any text-entry needs. But what does BBEdit actually do, and what the heck have they added to warrant a whole new version? OK, we know we can edit text files with BBEdit. In fact, you can edit a number of text files, and save them in Mac, DOS or Unix formats. With version 6, you can now edit text in any left-to-right script – assuming it’s supported by your Mac – including Chinese and Japanese, as well as Unicode. One of BBEdit’s strongest features is its search and replace function, which can operate across a number of documents, and use grep – a Unix search program – for more sophisticated pattern matching. Version 6’s improved multi-file search capability lets you specify precisely which files to look through, and save the search parameters as a filter for repeated use. Full AppleScript support means just about any repetitive task can be automated. However, the most extensive support in BBEdit is for those of us creating Web pages, with a host of tools and commands for writing in raw HTML. An HTML tools-palette contains a full range of common HTML tags and features – such as handling fonts and inserting images. It also helps with more-involved HTML, such as framesets, tables, and forms. Min specs: PowerPC;

OUR VERDICT

It’s not an HTML novices tool – it won’t construct pages – but if you know what you’re doing, it’s a great way to speed up the process. There are even tools for checking syntax, checking that links work – both internal and external – and a built-in FTP server uploads pages to a Web host, or even edit a file remotely. Version 6 adds support for WML, XHTML and PHP, and MacPerl – the Mac version of the ubiquitous Perl scripting language – is now fully embedded into BBEdit. There’s little here that will make version 6 a must-have upgrade for most users, but there are many minor additions that to some will be a godsend.

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