Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Review: BBEdit 8

by Sheri German

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

BBEdit has long been known as the preeminent HTML and text editor for Mac. Many of us were introduced to the program in its lite version, which, alas, is no longer available. I started using the professional version when it came bundled with Dreamweaver. Unfortunately, this lasted for only two versions of the program and then was discontinued.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with BBEdit, let me first briefly describe some of the myriad functions it can accomplish. Then I will point out the new features that should intrigue veterans and neophytes alike.

Text Editor or Word Processor?

If you already have a word processor such as Microsoft Word or AppleWorks, you may wonder why you need a text editor. These are two quite different beasts, however, and perform very different tasks.

Most of you know that you can format your text with headings, styles, boxes, and other layout features in a word processor. These programs are proprietary, though, and add lots of metadata that make their documents impossible to open in most other applications unless converters are available.

BBEdit can come to the rescue here. It will open any file from any program and allow you to extract the usable portions of text from the gibberish and metadata. Better still, if you have a document that suddenly won’t open even in its native program because it has become corrupted, you can use BBEdit to pull out the relevant text and paste it into a new document.

A Swiss Army Knife

What else can BBEdit do? Its features include support for the following:

Cool New Features

Now that I have you excited about what you can do with BBEdit, let's look at some of the coolest new features Barebones added to this powerhouse.

Text Factory

Doc drawer

Web Editing Features

My personal bias is towards the wonderful HTML editing features. Starting a new document is as easy as filling in the new HTML document dialog box. As you can see in the image, there is popup menu to choose support for Unicode, the correct doctype, language, and other code as required when creating a document that conforms to Web Standards.

New HTML document

Some of my other favorite new Web development tools include the following:

Preference Heaven

For those who seek “infinity and beyond”, there is an almost unlimited capacity to configure BBEdit’s preferences to work your way. These are just some of the preferences you’ll be able to set:

Mac OS X Requirements

BBEdit 8 no longer runs in OS 9, and indeed you must have Panther, Mac OS X 10.3.5, as a minimum requirement.


The full retail price of BBEdit is $199, and there is an upgrade price of $49 from version 7.0 and $59 from versions 2.5 to 6.5. There are several other ways to get your hands on a copy for less than the full retail price, however. If you have a copy of BBEdit that came with Dreamweaver 1.0 or 2.0, you qualify for the $59 upgrade fee. If you are lucky enough to still have a free copy of BBEdit Lite, you can purchase the pro version for $129. Finally, you can cross upgrade from Adobe GoLive and Dreamweaver 3 and above for $129.

BBEdit has been called "a remarkably powerful text editor for a wide range of users, from Web designers to programmers." If you have been using earlier versions, you’ll surely want to upgrade to take advantage of over 100 new features.

Reference Links

Download a 30 day free trial: http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/demo.shtml

BBEdit forums: http://www.barebones.com/support/lists/bbedit_talk.shtml

Download a tutorial to get you started with BBEdit basics: http://www.barebones.com/support/bbedit/index.shtml

Plugin Library: http://www.barebones.com/support/bbedit/plugin_library.shtml

Glossaries: http://www.barebones.com/support/bbedit/glossary_library.shtml

List of BBEdit features: http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/features.shtml

New in BBEdit 8: http://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/new.shtml