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Take Control of BBEdit
Learn how to take full advantage of BBEdit's text-processing power!
Is text a large part of your life? Do you write blog posts, code Web pages, search in log files, generate database reports, and regularly look for needles in textual haystacks? The best tool on the Mac for those tasks is BBEdit, from Bare Bones Software. But BBEdit is a deep program, and many people—even long-time users—are often unaware of or aren't taking full advantage of BBEdit's productivity enhancing features, such as grep searching, clippings, text completion, projects, context-aware HTML markup tools, FTP/SFTP browsers, version control software integration, template-driven HTML previews, and more.
Take Control of BBEdit, which was created in collaboration with Bare Bones Software, explains how to use BBEdit 10 to accomplish real-world tasks more efficiently than ever before. The book focuses on three main areas of usage: essential text-processing features for all BBEdit users, working with HTML from the level of the individual tag all the way to a dynamic Web site, and managing multi-resource projects.
BBEdit 11? Please note that this ebook is about BBEdit 10, which works with 10.6.8 Mountain Lion and later. See the Blog tab (below) to learn whether a BBEdit 11 title might become available. BBEdit 11 is compatible with 10.8.5 Mavericks and later.
Read this 199-page ebook to learn how to:
If you use BBEdit at all, then buy Take Control of BBEdit, either for a head start or a tune-up... the information it contains is immensely practical and useful.
—Miraz Jordan, in MacTips
iPad & Kindle
About the Author
Glenn Fleishman was trained as a typesetter, received a degree in art, and works as a journalist and programmer. Glenn is a regular contributor to the Economist, where he has filed hundreds of online stories, including a four-year stint as one of the lead writers of its Babbage blog, and dozens of print features. He also appears regularly in Boing Boing, TidBITS, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, Macworld, and Six Colors. His blog is http://glog.glennf.com, and he overshares on Twitter at @glennf.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
This ebook teaches you how to use BBEdit 10 as an effective writing and editing tool, to create Web pages and manage Web sites, and to work efficiently with related files and URLs in projects. It was written by Glenn Fleishman, edited by Adam Engst, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
Although BBEdit first appeared in 1991, I was late to discover its pleasures. While I wrote a fair amount of code in the 1990s, the mix of machines and jobs I had led me to use the screen-based editor vi (and its better vim variant). That’s what I cut my teeth on, and I just kept blindly using it. BBEdit was a programmer’s tool, and I only programmed a little. I was mostly a writer, although I regularly created and updated Web sites.
What finally overcame my reluctance to use BBEdit was Bare Bones’s gateway drug, the free TextWrangler, the successor to the more-limited BBEdit Lite. At a time when BBEdit’s retail price was around $125, TextWrangler was free, and it did much of what BBEdit offered. I was hooked. Most notably, TextWrangler provided so-called global regular-expression pattern matching, known as grep, using the same elements found in Perl and other programming languages. (I also started spending an increasingly large amount of time programming.)
I’ve found from talking to many colleagues—and even my own father, who designs small Web sites—that most of the repetitive, irritating, and manual tasks I performed in years past are common. But convincing people to try a program that has an intimidating number of features and a reputation as being for technical people is what led me to write this book. That reputation is undeserved: BBEdit is for everyone, and you can learn to use just the parts you need without becoming overwhelmed by those you don’t.
I didn’t just learn to manipulate text in TextWrangler, I also learned to use it to write. Both TextWrangler and BBEdit let you write without distractions. They display only plain text with, at most, some syntax coloring—coloring that differentiates coding (in programming) or formatting (in markup languages) from plain text or variable contents.
After using TextWrangler regularly for a bit, I moved up to BBEdit, because TextWrangler lacks several features: version control for storing, retrieving, and comparing multiple time-stamped states of the same file; text factories, little macros for carrying out sequences of actions; and other tools related to Web site management.
Even still, I continued to use vim for many basic editing tasks—until the Project feature appeared in BBEdit 9. In BBEdit, a project is a container that lets you reference (not copy or move) all the different text files, aliases, URLs, and folders associated with a particular, well, project, into a single bundle, regardless of where the actual files live. Projects have saved me innumerable hours, and I’ve become a BBEdit addict, to the point where I write nearly everything in BBEdit.
I want you to do the same. Any time you encounter a task that would result in wasted time and effort, or that involves text or collections of text files, whether they’re formatted as HTML or XML or CSS or plain old text, you can turn to BBEdit for a simpler and more satisfying resolution.
In this book, I look at three major tasks that BBEdit does exceedingly well, but that require mastering different parts of the program: working with text, managing Web sites, and using projects. The more I’ve learned in each of these areas, the more efficient I’ve become. Some weeks, I reclaim hours of otherwise wasted time. Plus, the results of my work are better! This book is a combination of a tutorial for features that, once mastered, you will use constantly, and a conceptual introduction to ways of working using BBEdit that will improve your efficiency and increase your professional satisfaction.
My goal is to take you from standing on the threshold of the BBEdit doorway to boogying down with the features within. Party on, reader!
After explaining how to Get and Install Software, this book takes you through three topic areas: working with text; creating and editing Web pages and managing Web sites; and organizing your work with BBEdit’s Project feature.
To get the most out of this book, I recommend that you read (or at least skim) the Work with Words topics, which come first in the ebook. If you work with Web code, then you should read the Build Web Pages and Sites topics. And, if your BBEdit project has more than a handful of files, you should read about wrangling your documents in Manage with Projects.
BBEdit is a text editor originally designed for programmers. It has gradually evolved into a multi-purpose tool that works well for many different text-related tasks. The topics noted below look at how to use BBEdit best for writing, editing, and wrangling text.
Coders shouldn’t feel left out. When you need to write text at length within a program, edit Web pages, or clean up code, these same tips will help you.
Folders let you keep track of files connected to a project in the Finder, but a document can reside only in a single project’s folder at a time. smart folders are an option—but they require that you rely on Mac OS X to manage where documents are stored, which may not be desirable or portable.
No, sorry, it's 199 pages as is, and for this title we wanted to focus on topics (text processing, HTML, and projects) that would be useful to the vast majority of BBEdit users. That said, if this book is successful, we hope to be able to cover such topics in a future edition or title.
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
January 5, 2015 -- We do not plan to further update this ebook, which covers BBEdit 10. Glenn may revise it for BBEdit 11 on his own, outside of the Take Control series. Should that plan come to fruition, I'll post more information here.
—Tonya J Engst
December 5, 2012 --
Our friends at Bare Bones have updated BBEdit to version 10.5. The program remains largely as we described it with a few additions.
First, BBEdit now works with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and 10.8 Versions. Every document you create and save on a local drive with BBEdit automatically keeps tracks of revisions, with a new snapshot every time you save. The new Search > Compare Against Previous Versions menu item gives you access to check against previous drafts. This doesn't replace version-control systems like Subversion (SVN); rather, it makes it easier to avoid losing significant changes by accident, such as deleting text, saving the file, and closing it.
Second, the Sites feature, once in a palette, is now integrated into Projects. You can set a Project to map to a remote Web site, and use new consolidated preflight tools (syntax checking and other options) to make sure changes pages are ready to go before they're uploaded to a site. Most of the Take Control book's details on Sites remains useful.
Finally, the document toolbar has been simplified, with fewer icons and more features consolidated into one place. It also takes up less vertical space.
These changes affect very little found in the book, with the exception of a few interface elements and a few menu items in the Text menu.
For a fuller explanation of these details, see BBEdit 10.5 Adds Versions and Brings Web Sites into Projects at TidBITS.
March 12, 2012 --
BBEdit, the multi-bladed Swiss Army knife of text-editing, and the new Take Control book about it, is the topic of Glenn's most recent interview with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices. As wide-ranging as BBEdit itself, the conversation between Glenn and Chuck covers, among many other things, the different uses and users of the software, some of the cool things Glenn discovered on his book-writing journey, and, a special treat for the TidBITS fans out there, a description of how BBEdit is used in the TidBITS publication workflow. As is always the case when Glenn is on-mic, it's an entertaining and enlightening discussion.
—Michael E. Cohen
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