July 22, 2021 at 12:32pm

BBEdit 14

I want to use and love BBEdit. I bought version 13 with a similar thought and feeling. That purchase seems like it was only a few months ago - in fact, I checked to see if I was eligible for the free upgrade. According to my receipt stored in 1Password, however, my v13 license was acquired on 21 December 2019. Time flies, especially in 2020, the year of our COVID.

I am not a coder. I don’t do any development. I understand the theory of regex and grep but rarely use them. I write an occasional blog article in Markdown, such as this one.

I have a bunch of well-designed Markdown editors that are purpose-built for writing blogs in Markdown. They have grammar-checks and nice management of links, images and feature great preview modes. They feature typewriter mode. As best I can tell, this is still not implemented in BBEdit 14.

But BBEdit is a Mac classic. It can do virtually anything with text (if you know how to drive it). That brings up the real weakness of BBEdit - a lack of support for the new user, and modern tutorials. BareBones, the developers, are old men. They write great documentation1 but offer zero modern promotion and support. The manual is great, but how about a YouTube channel with some tutorials? Where does a beginner start with this application?

The features added to BBEdit 14 seem helpful to developers. That’s not me. Jason Snell demonstrated some clever manipulation that can be achieved to help produce blogs. I don’t know how he did it. He talked about AppleScript, but didn’t provide the code. I presume this trick wouldn’t work out of BBEdit’s box.

Herein lies the problem with BBEdit. It’s great. It’s wonderful. It’s built for people who already use it and know how to use it. However, I would say this to the team at BareBones: if you’re building a software application, perhaps at some point you need to turn an eye to the new users. The ones that might otherwise choose the free Visual Studio Code. The ones who might already use the copy of iA Writer they own, or Drafts, Craft or Ulysses. Users like me?

I want to use BBEdit. But why should I? Perhaps I shouldn’t.

BareBones 14. I’m sure its great. But I can’t know, because I’m not experienced enough to say.


  1. The manual for BBEdit runs over 400 pages.↩︎


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