TextMate Doesn't Suck

TextMate is probably one of the most anticipated text editors for the OS X platform in quite a while.

Since OS X has been around you’ve basically been stuck with a few limited choices for text editing:

  1. BBEdit, a hold over from the OS 9 days. The developer was, up until recently, unwilling to add useful features like tabbed document windows. Then when BareBones releases version 8, their “biggest update to BBEdit since bringing it to OS X”, they’ve only added a documents drawer; integration with the Mac OS X spellchecker, Unicode support, and other niche items. Cost: A BILLION DOLLARS
  2. Textedit, the built in text editor. Just about as useful as notepad.exe. Cost: Free
  3. and recently, SubEthaEdit. While an OK editor, really caters more towards the “collaborative” editing part of the application and doesn’t focus much making editing and coding easier for the user. Cost: Free

So I kind of waffle back and forth between BBEdit and S ub E tha E dit. I use SEE because it works “alright” and is free, but I mostly end up using BBEdit because it is fast and does just enough of what I need to get me by. It also does a whole bunch of other crap I have no use for, but c’est la vie.

Well here comes [TextMate], a Cocoa text editor like SEE that promises to be fast, useful, and relevant to people who do actual programming (BBEdit is highly geared towards (X)HTML and CSS dev). Here’s a short list of the things I found to be insanely great about TextMate:

Each time you copy something, it is thrown onto the stack, so all previous clips still exist. By holding down shift when you paste, you go one step back on this stack, so you can easily do multiple cuts and paste them again, or you can open the clipboard history window to inspect the stack.

  • [Code folding]. Basically this allows you to “roll up” parts of your code that you don’t want to see. Like you could fold up a function, ‘for’ or ‘if’ block. This is one of my favorite features from editors on other platforms. I use SciTE at work which is built around the Scintilla editor and I use this quite often to decrease the clutter on the screen.

  • [Column Editing]. I of the opinion that this is the coolest feature of TextMate. You can basically select text vertically and change the text on each row in that column. It’s a little hard to describe but if you click on the link and watch the short GIF you’ll get the idea real quick.

There are other cool things of course: regular expression support, project support, live previews via webkit, auto-completion, syntax highlighting and smart typing (completes your brackets and quotes for you).

Of course there are still things missing from this 1.0 release.

  1. No support for Python
  2. No editing over SCP support
  3. No integration with CVS/SVN
  4. Hard to turn on some features (tabs)
  5. No preferences dialog ( maybe this is a good thing? :) )

Overall I think its a really good start. It isn’t free either, but at $49 ($39 until Nov. 1) is a LOT better than BBEdit’s $129 and offers a ton more stuff than BareBone’s TextWrangler at the same price.