Happy 20th Birthday BBEdit!

People occasionally ask me what tools I use in my work; which programs I use to write blog posts and articles, and to tweak my website. While I regularly use a number of text tools – depending on my needs, and who I’m working for, I may use Word, Pages, Scrivener or a text editor on my iPad – but the one I use most is Bare Bones’ BBEdit.

Jason Snell has written an article for Macworld wishing a happy 20th birthday to BBEdit, and he, too, uses it as his main text processing tool. When you think about it, 20 years is a long time. It dates back to System 7 – many of you current Mac users weren’t around back then – which was what my first Mac ran. (My first Mac was a PowerBook 100, purchased shortly after it was released in 2001.)

For me, BBEdit is the text tool that I open first when I start up my Mac. In fact, I have, apparently, an odd way of using it. (At least that’s what my fellow Take Control author Glenn Fleishmann – author of Take Control of BBEdit told me.) I have several “scratch” files, which I keep open in the program at all times. One is for general writing – it may be for my blog, for Macworld articles or for other texts that I write during the day – one is for a specific client, another is for texts I write or edit for the Mac OS X Hints website, and, when necessary, I transfer my writings from these files into individual files to save them. Yet I keep everything I write in these files, allowing me to search at any time for specific things I’ve penned. At the end of the year, I archive these files and create new ones. I can quickly switch from one file to another, depending on what I need to work on.

BBEdit is fast and flexible, with a gazillion preferences, and its HTML tools help me format complex texts such as lists and tables with a single keystroke. There are hundreds of features I will never use, and many that I don’t even know about, but as someone who generates text for a living, BBEdit is the best investment I have ever made in any software.