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On Bundles and Packages

I write words, not code, and I’m looking at a migration from TextMate to BBEdit. What drew me (and a lot of other people) to TextMate are its bundles. It’s unbelievable how easy TextMate makes it to write using Markdown.

The manual for text editor from Macromates has this to say about bundles:

5.1 Activation of Bundle Items

If you select Bundles → Bundle Editor → Show Bundle Editor you will see the command center for customizing TextMate.

From this window you can create and edit things like snippets, commands, language grammars, etc. which will be explained in more detail in the following sections.

The latest release of BBEdit introduces packages. The summary of new items in BBEdit 10 has this to say about packages:

Packages – A Package is a collection of the sort of things you’d place into ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/ to extend BBEdit, such as clippings, scripts, language modules, and text filters; but makes it easier to install such items when they are all related to a single type of task, rather than having to manually install and manage items spread out between different folders.

Can BBEdit’s “packages” replicate the success of Textmate’s “bundles”?

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So, BBEdit happened

BBEdit is a Mac text editor. It’s the Mac text editor. If you aren’t a nerd, this probably means nothing to you. For those of you with a firm footing in the nerd camp this is terrific news, but it brings some challenges.

I learned about the BBEdit 10 release from John Siracusa on Twitter:

@siracusa on Twitter

OK. It isn’t such huge news that [Bare Bones Software] updated the longtime editor. It feels like the program practically launched alongside the Macintosh and has been regularly updated (It’s only been around for about 20 years). Version 10 launched alongside Mac OS X Lion with a shiny new price tag. The cost of a license dropped from its high of $199 to $39. That’s the introductory price good through October 2011. Even after the deal ends, it looks like the app is still going to be an awesome value at $49.

I used BBEdit Lite back in the day and was excited when Bare Bones brought revived their free version of the text editor with the new name Text Wrangler. Then I found TextMate at about the same time that I found Markdown and fell in love with monospace all over again. Cranking out stylized text from a simplified markup language and exporting to PDF or into LaTeX for further editing made me feel like a wizard. It was magical.

TextMate dramatically simplifies some editing tasks, such as working with Markdown. If you’re a writer, Markdown will change your game.

But times change. Like Merlin Mann said in Back to Work (My Food Court of Functionality: S1E25), at some point you have to take a step back and analyze why you are using a product. Are you using it because you’ve talked about it so much or because it’s the right tool to use? He compared it to his experience during the fabled Quicksilver to Launchbar Migration of 2009 (citation needed).

The challenge is migrating from TextMate to BBEdit. I love TextMate–it’s been my default writing application for a long time–but it feels like it’s been abandoned and there is no dispute that its update cycle has dropped off the chart.

I’m going to miss TextMate, but I look forward to moving back into BBEdit.