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Old 03-13-2008, 08:56 AM   #1
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Location: In Connecticut, on the Housatonic River near its mouth at Long Island Sound.
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Default Mac text editor: ForgEdit 1.0

I have been playing with the $29 text editor ForgEdit 1.0 — Programmer’s Text Editor for OS X — and am impressed.

The program has an elegant, clean interface. Most functions are configurable, some are optional. It lacks BBEdit’s many palettes, including ones that insert a DOCTYPE, encoding statement; that searches for and inserts code for images with dimensions and alt statement; brackets selected text with H1, et al; and so on.

It does include a character palette (more accurately, accesses the Mac’s built-in one, which floats on top of everything else on the screen). Not as slick and easy as BBEdit’s, but serviceable; and even better, if you need an Asian character or one of the rarer sets of symbols that BBEdit doesn’t include. I would just slide it onto the dock to get it out of the way when not in use, however.

It lets you automate with AppleScript; will search on plain text and regular expressons. It uses FTP and SFTP so you can quickly edit files on a server. Has coloring, automatic control over indenting and other organizing features; and lets you use existing keyboard shortcuts or create your own. And lots more — you can check the features out at the web site, or download the software for a 30-day trial.

It has a couple of cool features I would love to see in BBEdit:
  • Tabbed file management, instead of a messy stack of documents that you sometimes have to hunt through, as in the typical web site process: CSS, and a bunch of php files. ForgEdit opens a side drawer (similar to the documents drawer in BBEdit) for easy access to a file.
  • Nice touch: Open one file in a directory with ForgEdit and it places the others in the side-drawer for instant, no-search access.
ForgEdit is not a perfect substitute for BBEdit, if that is your frame of reference (as it is mine). On the other hand, I think it would be a great choice for those who want something cheaper than BBEdit. It is definitely worth $29.

I have not spent much time with Bare Bones Software’s free TextWrangler, which seems to offer most of the ForgEdit functions and some others as well, but lacks some of the interface niceties. If you are looking for a coding text editor, I would suggest you consider both. How nice to have two to consider!

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