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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.

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Why Quickcursor?

I recently wrote about how I use QuickCursor to switch between Scrivener and TextMate, which left at least one reader wondering, “Why?”

“I’d like to know why you sometimes feel it’s necessary to jump from Scrivener to TextMate…via QuickCursor.” –@drdrang

Scrivener is perfect for organizing writing projects and providing a focused writing environment, yet it lacks the formatting mojo I have come to adore in TextMate. In short, I use Scrivener to write and TextMate to format, particularly for posting to the web.

QuickCursor is the glue that binds the two apps together. I almost forgot to mention it because I often don’t realize its there, which is a tremendous compliment.

Most of my words are prepared in some sort of markup these days, usually Markdown in MultiMarkdown. This blog is hosted by wordpress.com, which doesn’t doesn’t directly accept Markdown, so I have to convert it to HTML for posting using MarsEdit. My fellow TextMate users out there already know how well that app handles Markdown-to-HTML conversion. Ctl-Shift-H. Done!

Yes, I know I can post directly from TextMate and I used to use it that way. Now, I prefer to use MarsEdit for its near perfect integration of Flickr, which is where I host my photos.

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Email with Textmate

TextMate surprised me again this week when I discovered I could send email directly from my favorite text editor with the same keyboard shortcut as “Send Mail” in Apple’s Mail.app, which as you know is Cmd-Shift-D.

Bliss! Because you know that means, right? Of course you do. It greases the wheels for me to write messages using every text nerd’s dream formatting languages—Markdown and MultiMarkdown.

I do have to throw in one more step before hitting the shortcut to send the message. Here, I’ll just show you how it works:

Read the three steps first. Then scroll through the three images. It’s really quick, easy, and just the best if you have to send an email using HTML.

  1. Type a message in TextMate using Markdown or MultiMarkdown and press Ctrl-Shift-H, which brings you to…
  2. You’re in HTML now. Nothing left to do but hit Cmd-Shift-D to…
  3. Send it to Mail.app where it’s formatted in lovely HTML waiting for an address, a subject (it automatically grabs the saved name). Then send it!

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Oops! Forgot the two spaces after “Best!” to break the lines. Could have fixed that in post, but I’m lazy tonight.

Hope this helps you too!