30 Years of BBEdit Not Sucking

Rich Siegel, 30 years ago this week:

This is the first public release of BBEdit, which is a free text editor that has been under development and extensive in-house testing for the past two years.

BBEdit is 32-bit clean, compatible with any Macintosh running system version 6.0 or later, and when running under System 7.0, takes specific advantage of new features to enhance performance and appearance.

“32-bit clean” was a bugaboo at the time for older Mac apps (the platform was only 8 years old, so “older” wasn’t very old) to run on System 7.

BBEdit is also very economical with respect to disk and memory usage; it will run in a partition as small as 256K. The size of any file is only limited by the amount of memory available in BBEdit’s partition; there is no 32K upper bound.

Text editors that used the standard system text editing APIs in that era were limited to opening files no larger than 32 kilobytes. That felt constraining even back in 1992. BBEdit could open files as large as the amount of available RAM. Times and technology have certainly changed, as has BBEdit, but BBEdit today (version 14.1, released a month ago) is remarkably similar in spirit to BBEdit then.

BBEdit offers fast and flexible multi-file search and replace capabilities; under System 7, it can also use On Location 2.0 as a searching engine. Grep pattern-matching is available for single- or multi-file searches.

I started using BBEdit in the fall of 1992. I think the version number was 2.1. (Anyone who claims to have used BBEdit 1.x is either misremembering or was a colleague or friend of Rich Siegel’s in 1991.) BBEdit’s multi-file search and replace remains the best I’ve ever seen. In 1992, though, it was a breakthrough.

And I remember thinking, “Grep search, what’s that about?”

Eight years later I was working at Bare Bones Software. My lasting contribution: tweaking the user manual’s Grep chapter when BBEdit 6.something adopted the PCRE regular expression engine; theretofore it had been using a heavily modified version of Henry Spencer’s original library.

18 years ago I created Markdown in BBEdit, with the intention of using it from BBEdit. That’s worked out pretty well — just about every long piece I’ve written for Daring Fireball was written in BBEdit (including this one, natch). At that time, I considered BBEdit mature and well-established.

Discussions marking this week’s anniversary on MetaFilter and Hacker News.

Jason Snell, at Six Colors:

I use BBEdit every day. I write most of my stories in BBEdit. Sometimes I write about BBEdit in BBEdit.

Michael Tsai:

I’ve been using it since a year or two later, and I doubt there’s an app I’ve spent more time in. And let’s not forget the excellent documentation and customer support that go along with the app.

Peter Lewis:

Congratulations on 30 years of BBEdit! I’ve definitely been using it for at least 29 years and I can’t imagine my Mac without it. It is the absolutely gold standard for release notes, quality and reliability.

And lastly, Christian Smith:

I can think of no other piece of software that has stayed so true to its original design principles as BBEdit.

I can’t put it better than that.