Try TextWrangler 17 Aug 2005

58 comments Latest by Brandon Zylstra

If you use BBEdit for HTML/CSS coding, you may be able to get along just fine with TextWrangler — BBEdit’s free little brother.

I own BBEdit 6.5 and was considering upgrading to BBEdit 8.x, but I checked out TextWrangler first and found that it satisfied my needs perfectly. It’s more modern than the BBEdit I was using, and I haven’t found a single thing that I can’t do that I was able to do before with BBEdit.

So, if you’re an HTML/CSS-by-hand kinda person, and you’re looking for a free and comfortable text editor from the same lineage as BBEdit, you may want to give TextWrangler a try.

58 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Mark 17 Aug 05

You might want to point out that it’s Mac only, and give some credit to Bare Bones for providing such a good pair (and the rest) of programs.

Mathew 17 Aug 05

I too use TW and love it to pieces. I considered buying BBEdit but the price was too high for me. TW is perfect and has lots of great features that I need to get my work done.

JohnO 17 Aug 05

For the longest time I’ve been screaming for BBEdit on a PC. Definitely the best editor I’ve used. Just wish there was a port!

Nathan 17 Aug 05

Not to divert attention, but SubEthaEdit is also a good, free text editor with syntax highlighting and the more. Less features perhaps, but SEA is a simple, sleek application.

Mathew 17 Aug 05

On my PC at work (sad), I use EditPlus 2, recommended by my pal Garrett. Seems pretty good, but is terribly ugly.

Dan H 17 Aug 05

I bought BBEdit a few years ago at version 7, and when I saw version 8’s multiple documents in one window feature, I thought I’d have to buy it. Same as all you, I luckily looked at TextWrangler before typing in my credit card number.

MH: Right, no tabs. That’d be too Visual Studio like. The pull-down works, but I love having my set of documents in the drawer on the right.

I never understood native preview. One ought to check in a couple browsers anyway, why not preview in those?

Yeah, there are very limited HTML helps and such, but I hardly used them in BBEdit. I just want a clean and simple text editor. SubEthaEdit was something I toyed with for a while, as well. It has some additional extreme features that were of no use to me, but cool ideas are good ideas to try.

Thanks BareBones for a great (and free) text editor.

Randy J. Hunt 17 Aug 05

I’m convinced TextMate has them all beat.

Dan Mall 17 Aug 05

I’ve been using TextWrangler for the last couple of months, and it’s got absolutely everything that I’m looking for. TW in conjunction with Transmit is a dream.

Lisa McMillan 17 Aug 05

Randy, I’m with you. I’ve been an avid bbedit user since v4. A few weeks ago I started learning Ruby on Rails and watched the videos of ROR development. They used TextMate, so I thought I’d try it. I’m hooked. And I’m never going back. Snippets alone make coding almost any language a beautiful thing. I tried using Bbedit again the other day and cried when I realized my brain was actually thinking in TextMate snippet shortcuts.

Mathew 17 Aug 05

I really, really want to love skEdit. The interaface is a little confusing and have stayed away from it. TM was neat to try, but I hated the icon so I quit. Silly, I know.

ichigo 17 Aug 05

i go with textmate…definitely the best gui text editor out there… if you want a good text editor for free i can recommend subethaedit which was already mentioned by nathan…

very nice pieces of software..they make me smile

SU 17 Aug 05

Another vote for TextMate here — I don’t miss BBEdit one bit.

Darrel 17 Aug 05

How come the Mac gets all the good text editors? I’m still searching for that ideal PC text editor. The newest DW seems to be better, but I really don’t need all the extra DW features a lot of the time. MM seems to have killed of Homesite quietly.

I do miss BBEdit.

Dan Boland 17 Aug 05

I use BBEdit v7. I’m sure TextWrangler does everything I would want (the only feature I really can’t live without is color-coding), but since I already have a license, there’s no reason to switch! Maybe when my BBEdit is too old to work on whichever cat OS Apple is on, then I’ll give TextWrangler (or TextMate, as some of you seem to love) a shot.

Am I the only one who absolutely hates using Dreamweaver?

Dan Boland 17 Aug 05

Darrel: Believe it or not, I used to use Notepad to write code in my PC days.

amine 17 Aug 05

why, why they do not have anything like that for windows users, the only text editor that i’m using is crimson Editor, i like it, but i would like to try others.

Jason G 17 Aug 05


It has tag completion and code hinting. Something nearly every other editor for Mac OS can’t seem to figure out.

@Matthew: The newest beta has some good UI improvments - the old way of switching between documents was wierd - the new way has tabs.

My only real complaint is that the syntax highlighting is a bit buggy.

Gerrit Lansing 17 Aug 05

Dan, I absolutely hate using Dreamweaver. I hate WYSIWYG editors in general. I’ve been searching for a good text editor for years.

I, and this may surprise some of you, willingly use a PC at work and at home. I can never find a text editor for Windows that I like - I’m currently using SciTE which isn’t bad, but it isn’t my ideal choice.

I wish we (PC users) could get a high quality editor.

Dan H 17 Aug 05

In my day job, I use Windows. There’s only one thing I miss when I get home: The “Home” and “End” keys do the wrong thing in Mac OS X. I know i can do Apple+Right Arrow and Apple+Left Arrow, but do any of the text editors you all mentioned here have the ability to map Home/End to those functions?

As i see it, Apple has made Home/End pretty much like Page Up/Down… right?

Mathew 17 Aug 05

jason g.: i guess i can’t figure out the toolbar icons. it always looks to me like every icon refreshes the page. not on that, but i’ve had hassles with its ftp capabilities as well. i may give the latest demo a try.

amine 17 Aug 05

windows users, i think you should try Crimson Editor So far the best free text editor comp with windows…

Peter Cooper 17 Aug 05

I always wondered that myself, Dan. It’s as if those keys are really “start of document” and “end of document”. As such I’ve always used my UNIX faithfuls of Ctrl+A and Ctrl+E. Sadly these don’t work in every Mac app! Nice consistency.. :)

Brad 17 Aug 05

Dan, I absolutely hate using Dreamweaver. I hate WYSIWYG editors in general.

But Dreamweaver’s code view works quite well and you can set it up to look like Homesite if you’re a Windows user who’s used to coding in that environment.

I use Dreamweaver but I’m in code view 90% of the time…I used Homesite before that and while Homesite’s coding interface was better, Dreamweaver’s works fine for me.

The one thing that really bugs me about Dreamweaver (maybe they’ve fixed this, I’m still using the first MX version) is that there’s no external link checker. You have to use a third-party product to check your site for broken external links. Homesite had a great link checker built in; any site-management software should provide that functionality.

Stefan Seiz 17 Aug 05

If anyone deserves your money, it is BareBones. The quality of their Software is just outstanding. Upgrading to BBedit 8 will give you some additional features you’ll like - like the HTML Palette, CSS Menu, CVS Integration, SFTP integrated and such.
So please, don’t be cheap and upgrade to BBedit 8 ;-)

Hey, it is just 59$ to upgrade from BBedit 6. And something many probably don’t know, you can even upgrade from the free TextWrangler for $129 instead of the $199 retail.

Please support them by upgrading so we all have quality software like that around for the forseable future. Just my 2 cents anyway.

Gerrit Lansing 17 Aug 05

I use Dreamweaver but I�m in code view 90% of the time�I used Homesite before that and while Homesite�s coding interface was better, Dreamweaver�s works fine for me.

I can’t justify, nor can afford, paying $300 (or whatever it is now) for an editor that I’m only going to be using as a text editor.

I’ve tried crimson, I’ll give it a look again, my memory and the fact I’m not using it means I didn’t really like it, but I’ll take another look.

I’ve also tried jEdit, not really for me. I don’t want to spend tons of time customizing and learning an editor before I can effectively use it - I shouldn’t have to.

Jeff Hartman 17 Aug 05

Still use BBEdit because of some key features:

1. Glossary
2. Subversion integration
3. Text factories (can use, but cannot create or edit them)
4. Full drag and drop support
5. I’ve owned BBEdit since version 6.

Travis Bell 17 Aug 05

Ah hell, I got add a comment.

TextMate kicks the ass out of anything Barebones has, sorry but it’s true. BBEdit has become complete bloatware and TextWrangler just doesn’t even come close to the finesse of TextMate.

Just my opinions of course but hey, I thought I would share them ;)

Jason 17 Aug 05

Another vote for TextMate here - I’m a big fan. I just wish there was a Window equivalent for when I’m not using a Mac. Any suggestions?

Jay 17 Aug 05

I dunno - I use EditPlus2 on my PC and have for a number of years not. It sure seems to do everything I need, especially highlighting my code to show me where I’ve missed a tag here and there.

But I’m a simple man with simple needs. ;)

Jay 17 Aug 05

Now. Number of years NOW.

Re-read your comment, Jay. Criminy.

kayvaan 17 Aug 05

i like UltraEdit (i’m on PC)

Mathew 17 Aug 05

after watching that TM rails video, i want to download it and try it tonight!

i guess on the TW vs TM issue: i just “get” how the sidebar and the documents seem to work in TW better than TM?

tre 17 Aug 05

although brad mentioned it, i’d emphasize for the pc, homesite: homesite. dreamweaver has gotten much to sluggish to use as a code-view only editor and homesite is highly customizable (i can get rid of most “menus” and “buttons” and shrink the really necesary ones like line number toggle, soft/hard wrap toggle to 16px. only downside — i doubt macrodobia is going to continue development (macromedia hasn’t had an update for couple of years ago). so who knows how long it’ll last as a supported product. And it’s $99 pricetag is a lot less than dreamweaver 8’s projected $399 street price.

i’m weening myself onto textwrangler for my mac environment and thus far, not a whole lot to complain about.

Raymond 17 Aug 05

If I’m not mistaken, Basecamp was written in TextMate. That’s a heck of an endorsement.

Bob 17 Aug 05

All about Taco HTML Edit; for the Mac, uses WebKit for a live Safari preview. Great for coding wildly and keeping an eye on what it’s doing to your page—no more save+refresh…

Alexandre Simard 17 Aug 05

If anyone deserves your money, it is BareBones. The quality of their Software is just outstanding. [snip] Please support them by upgrading so we all have quality software like that around for the forseable future. Just my 2 cents anyway.

I second. Especially if you actually use their software for paying work.

I�m a little puzzled as to the intended audience of TextWrangler, what with the neutered HTML capabilities (less attractive to web developers) and lack of Glossary (ditto programmers).

Developers and programmers use their text editor to earn a living. They should be able to fork a couple hundred dollars every two years, if they value the software. Think of it as your construction boots.

For the longest time I�ve been screaming for BBEdit on a PC. Definitely the best editor I�ve used. Just wish there was a port!

I asked BareBones about a Win32 port last year. It is not at all considered. :-(

I will have a look at some of your suggestions, and thank you for them.

Kyle 17 Aug 05

I’m still on a PC(unfortunately, but I’m working towards a Powerbook); I use(and highly recommend) EditPad Pro. Quick, responsive text editing with tabbed interface, ability to work with project folders, built in regex search, and downloadable custom syntax for every language I’ve ever needed.

There’s probably a ton of other great features that I haven’t covered, but the thing I like most is that as a text editor used for development work, it doesn’t overwhelm me with features, yet it has every feature I’ve ever needed in more powerful text editors such as JEdit.

Check it out:

RS 17 Aug 05

*cough* vim *cough*

amber 17 Aug 05

I’m with Bob on Taco HTML Edit for the Mac. But I only get to use that for freelance/night projects. But my days are spent on a PC using Homesite, although the lack of updates and development has put it a bit behind the times. I also use Notepad2 for editing .htaccess files and checking for bracket pairs. I’d use Notepad2 all the time if I could keep multiple files open at once (or just be more efficient with windows explorer folder panes).

Brad 17 Aug 05

For those who want a more updated and supported alternative to Homesite for PC, you can try TopStyle Pro, which was developed by Nick Bradbury, the same guy who did HomeSite. It’s known more as a CSS editor than anything else, but in fact it’s quite a capable (X)HTML editor as well.

Tony 17 Aug 05

On PC I use HTML Kit from Chami.

JF 17 Aug 05

Stefan, old habits die hard. I couldn’t deal with the learning curve productivity hit of TextMate so I went back to BBEdit/Wrangler. TextMate may indeed be better for me, but I don’t have the spare time to give it a chance right now.

MonkeyT 17 Aug 05

Bought BBEdit 5, upgraded to 6 and now have upgraded to 8. BareBones has consistently been one of the first Mac software companies to use new technologies available in each release of OS X (using things like Services, WebKit, and integrating command line access), and their software has always remained rock solid. I keep a copy of TextWrangler for emergency text-editing on every Mac I own, but when it’s time to do real work, I sit down and use my street legal copy of BBEdit. Besides, it lets me wear my “BBEdit. It doesn’t suck.” t-shirt with a clear conscience.

Support the companies that make great software, even if you can scrape by with their freeware. It’s the only way to increase the odds of them making more good stuff down the road.

Wesley Walser 17 Aug 05

I think it’s just great when a company offers a free version of something that can be gotten along with. Eventually those people are bound to want something that the upgrade has. 37S seems to have taken to this way of thinking as well.

stuart Willis 18 Aug 05

I use TextWrangler for coding shell scripts (for both linux and os x deployment) to the point where I added a simple tw alias.

alias tw ‘open -a /Applications/’

:) The fact that it honours UNIX conventions is nice. If only it could be disabled from producing ._ files. Sigh. Bane of my life :) To the point where I sometimes do small changes using VI simply cause its quicker than having to switch back to the terminal and ‘rm ._*’.

TextMate looks -very- nice for the price. Be curious to see how useful it is for shell scripting.

Todd Dominey 18 Aug 05

“BareBones has consistently been one of the first Mac software companies to use new technologies available in each release of OS X…”

On that same topic, the latest update to BBEdit makes it a universal binary, meaning it’s ready to go on the Intel Macs that’ll hit retail down the road. How’s *that* for being ahead of the curve?

Jordan T. Cox 19 Aug 05

eeeew. No Ruby support.

Ben Whitehouse 19 Aug 05

Hey Jordan, while Ruby syntax coloring isn’t built into TextWrangler, it’s a two second download from BareBones and works like a charm.

“Download it here”:

Brandon Zylstra 28 Oct 05

Another vote for TextMate. BBEdit used to be the best, but it’s been greatly surpassed. (Isn’t it ironic that the Mac has the best text editor and always has? Before TM there was BBEdit, but the PC and Linux have never had anything like them. jEdit is the closest I’ve seen. Visual SlickEdit claims to be amazing but it’s also amazingly expensive, and my *brief* experiments with it didn’t impress me. My apologies to the emacs fanatics out there who will take exception to my claim that TextMate is better, but I’ll stand by it.)