The Editor that Isn’t

My TextMate license dates back to 2007 and I’ve been using it ever since as my main programming editor. An update for TextMate was announced around the time of Mac OS X Leopard’s release (October 2007 for the record), and it was a huge deal that it was going to be Leopard-only.

TextMate 2 has not been released and only very minor bug fix releases since that time. TextMate 2 has been a running joke for a while now, along the lines of Duke Nukem Forever … but now even that has passed as Duke has launched.

So, this post is dedicated to TextMate 2, the editor that isn’t, and the improvements I still hope to see one day if TextMate 2 is ever released to us unwashed masses.

  • update to 64-bit application
  • split editor window (both side-by-side and top-and-bottom)
  • better undo and redo
  • improved and speedier find and find-and-replace
  • a GetBundles-like system built-in
  • inclusion of Lion features (Resume especially, maybe Versions)
  • available on the Mac App Store

That’s really all I can think of at the moment. General speed improvements would be nice, maybe the inclusion of a Project+-like project window would be cool, but overall I like TextMate just fine the way it is and will continue to use it until the day comes when other editors are so far ahead that I can’t ignore it any longer (BBEdit would be my first choice right now).

I hope to see TextMate 2 some day, but I am prepared to make the plunge if the day comes.

The BBEdit Trial: Month One

It has been over a month since I downloaded BBEdit for the first time and gave it a go as my editor-at-large. It has been a rather crazy month as I’ve been digging deeper and deeper into Plone as I build out a custom theme for Martin Luther College’s website, and it gave me a good chance to put BBEdit through its paces in how I would use it day-to-day.

After a month, I’m of two minds.

Good Mind

Good mind me likes the fact that BBEdit is at version 10, and I’ve already stated that in the past. In the month that I’ve been using it, it has already received an update, been released on the Mac App Store, been updated on the Mac App Store, and I’ve gotten support within a half-hour with the questions I’ve had.

Those are compelling features.

It has handled the number of files I’ve had in my projects very well, I like how it handles the “project drawer”, syntax coloring works well, and the application itself is snappy enough to use as an editor.

Overall, it has been a great editor … but …

Bad Mind

It’s a Carbon app, using old-style borders around the windows and it doesn’t look like a modern Mac application. Now, BBEdit has a deep and long history, and it carries that with it for better or worse. I’m not really going to ding it for that, but it is something to keep in mind.

Because it is a Carbon app, BBEdit is 32-bit only right now. Granted, TextMate is 32-bit only for now as well (along with having a RASH of other small issues), but it is something I was not expecting at first.

I also miss bundles. I know you can script a lot of things, but one of the small examples is creating lists in HTML files. I could type ‘ul’ and have TextMate fill in the tags for an unordered list with a single tab. I could then Command+Enter down to the next line and type “li” and have my first list item. It would great. That is just one example that I miss from TextMate Bundles.

Conclusion

So what am I going to do? Stick with TextMate? Continue on with BBEdit? Go to Vim!?

I don’t really know yet. I’m going to keep bouncing back and forth between TextMate and BBEdit for the time being and see how things go. I’m again thinking of giving Vim a long chance since the BBEdit experiment went well, but that will be for the future.

Overall, I like BBEdit a lot, but I keep holding onto the hope that TextMate 2 will be released within my son’s lifetime.

The “Poor” 13″ MacBook Pro

The 13″ MacBook Pro has been getting beaten up pretty severely by certain commentators recently. Actually, ever since Apple released the re-jiggered MacBook Air in October 2010, that particular portable has received more than its fair share of beatings.

Well, I’m here to toss some love to the poor 13″ MacBook Pro.

First off, I’m extremely biased, having owned two 13″ MacBook Pros, but I’m not blind to the fact that the 13″ MacBook Pro is now, perhaps, the one Apple product that seems the most out of place. While the MacBook Air is receiving almost universal praise and the 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros continue to hold down their positions as the larger-and-higher-end portables offered by Apple, the 13″ MacBook Pro gets stuck between the two by having some higher-end components (faster processors, larger RAM capacity, Firewire 800 port, etc.) coupled with more weight, a poor screen (still at 1280×800), and no standard SSD (while the Airs come with ONLY an SSD).

Because of this, Marco Arment and Ben Brooks have maybe rightfully been beating up on the 13″ Pro. They have a hard time seeing where this machine might fit in for a person choosing a new Apple portable.

It really comes down to a number of factors.

RAM Potential

I can’t speak much because I’m still running at only 4GB in my 2011 13″ MacBook Pro, but I will soon be picking up the full 8GB to max it out. That’s fully double what you can put into a 13″ MacBook Air (or an 11″ Air), and can make a HUGE difference when you are running one or more virtual machines for whatever purpose.

Don’t underestimate what that can mean for a person who wants to be able to run with just a single machine, filling in whatever holes they might have with a dedicated VM for either testing, or that pesky Windows app that you need to have access to for work (I’m looking at you Microsoft Access 2010).

Size

A portable, by its definition, should be easily portable. The 15″ MacBook Pro is too large for me to comfortably take back and forth between work and home. Granted, I do not carry much with me at all other than a light case and the MacBook Pro, and I do use a case meant specifically for 13″ portables, so the extra size of the 15″ would make a difference.

The MacBook Air would be more portable, but the RAM potential above is something that can’t be completely ignored by everyone.

Expansion

An odd thing to think about with a portable, but the ability to purchase off-the-shelf RAM and hard drives to stick into my machine is something that appeals to me. Right now there is a 500GB hard drive in this little guy, but I won’t hesitate to drop a newer drive in here at some point to gain some performance increases or storage capacity … if there would be a need.

Processor Speed

The dual-core Intel Core i7 is a pretty speed processor, not getting hampered by the ultra-low-voltage requirements of a machine the size of the Air. The Air is mighty fast and impressive, but if you need processing power in a small package, the 13″ MacBook Pro is pretty attractive.

Conclusion

Even with all of that above, the 13″ MacBook Pro, sadly, is not long for this world unless some major changes happen. I think that the first thing that needs to change is the screen. Having a 1280×800 screen on this while the 13″ MacBook Air has a 1440×900 screen seems almost criminal, and it will need to change. I have to think that if this single change happened (along with maybe the option for quad-core Core i5 or i7 processors) that some people would be appeased.

However, Apple is probably going to drop the 13″ MacBook Pro completely, maybe the next major redesign of the MacBook Pro line. With that, the portable lineup from Apple becomes crystal clear: 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs and 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros. That’s a decidedly less-confusing lineup than what they have.

However, I will miss the 13″ MacBook Pro. That line has served me well.

The BBEdit Trial: A Week In

So things were greatly complicated this prior week by the birth of our second son, Levi. Because of this, I was unable to really give BBEdit a test run, but the next month is going to provide more opportunity than I could possibly want. With two website deadlines approaching, I’ll have BBEdit open every day from this point forward.

So far, in the little time I have spent with it, I have been forced many times to repeat this phrase in my head:

BBEdit is not TextMate.

It happens to be something I need to keep in my mind as I try to actually evaluate the text editor on its own merits. BBEdit allows you to edit text files … which is already a point in its favor.

To reiterate the reason I’m doing this, BBEdit 10 is a major release that coincided with the release of Mac OS X Lion. BBEdit has been around for a LONG time, but it has been continuously updated not just for Mac OS X Lion, but made the transition from PowerPC to Intel and from Mac OS to Mac OS X. That’s dedication.

That’s the kind of dedication that I take comfort in, knowing that the company behind my tool will be there to continue to update that tool for the future. TextMate, sadly, seems to be all but abandoned right now with no real updates as to the status of TextMate 2 for some time.

There is one thing I am missing at the moment, and that is Command-T, or Go To File. I was hoping that PeepOpen would fill that void, but it does not seem to work with BBEdit at the moment. I’m hoping that a future release will fix that issue.

Otherwise, I look forward to really digging into things in the coming weeks and months.

Apple’s “Other” Releases

Today Apple released the newest version of their operating system for person computers: Mac OS X Lion. That’s not really news because that has been anticipated for a while.

However, that was not all that they released. Along with Lion Apple announced new MacBook Airs, Mac minis, and Thunderbolt Displays. I’ll just briefly touch on each.

MacBook Air

What was great is now even better. The revision brings Intel Core processors to the entire line, a Thunderbolt port, a bump in RAM for some configurations, a backlit keyboard and forces in Intel HD graphics. The design stays the same and really nothing else has changed, but the performance increase is both welcome and wonderful.

Sandy Bridge (Intel chipset) has been a great asset for all manufacturers. Now the MacBook Air gets to take it for a spin as well.

The update to the MacBook Air also ushers in the end of the MacBook line, for now. No longer can you get a white polycarbonate MacBook from Apple and the 11″ MacBook Air has taken its place at the $999 price point. For the moment if you want a 13″ Mac portable with an optical drive you are looking at the 13″ MacBook Pro or an external drive for the 13″ MacBook Air.

Who knows it that’s a great idea or not, but it is a simplifying of the whole lineup back to only two lines of portables.

Mac mini

Yes, that is how they spell it, with the lower-case “m” currently. The Mac mini receives many of the updates that the MacBook Air did and also loses its optical drive.

One cool thing is the possibility of upgrading the Mac mini to a dual-core Core i7 processor and AMD Radeon HD graphics. That’s the first time the Mac mini has had discreet graphics since the PowerPC days. Sadly, the quad-core Core i7 is only available on the Mac mini with Lion Server, but with no option for the AMD Radeon HD graphics. It makes sense in a way, but still disappointing because it would be nice to get the quad-core processor with the AMD Radeon HD graphics chip.

However, the dual-core Core i7 is clocked higher, so in games the performance might actually be better. Benchmarks will bear that out in some way.

Not much else new. I still really like the Mac mini and would consider getting one as a dedicated machine for at home. More interesting is its use as a Mac server. Maybe one day.

Thunderbolt Displays

I didn’t pay attention to any rumors about new displays because I wasn’t sure what they could do with it. However, what Apple did was kind of cool.

Now you hook up your Apple Thunderbolt Display to a Thunderbolt port on a Mac and it not only handles video but also USB, Firewire, and Ethernet. It also acts as a Thunderbolt host so that you can daisy-chain more Thunderbolt devices. So you hook up one cable and get all of that. The new Thunderbolt Display is nothing less than a Mac docking station! Awesome.

I am guessing you will see a lot of these on desks around the world soon. The newest MacBook Pros (15″ and 17″ models) can also chain together two of these displays and display across both of them. That’s pretty cool.

Finally we see why Apple pushed Thunderbolt so hard. It probably isn’t going to supplant USB 3.0 in the next round, but that 10Gbps pipe allows this sort of one-cable-to-many solutions that otherwise I don’t think would exist. That’s pretty cool and pretty powerful.

The idea of getting rid of a USB hub and power brick and having a Thunderbolt Display on my desk that I hook up to when I get there is pretty compelling. Now if they created a 24″ version for around $500, that I might be able to swing.

Conclusion

Overall, some fairly basic updates (and expected) and (finally) a good use for Thunderbolt. Couple that with Mac OS X Lion and Xcode 4.1 and you have a pretty good release day for the company in Cupertino.