TextMate is hyped as a BBEdit-killer for $39 ($49 starting in November). While it incorporates some undeniably clever ideas, my first reaction is that it feels all wrong. The first paragraph of TextMate’s Web page says:
It’s time to turn envy into pride and end your desire for Windows- and Unix-based editors once and for all. TextMate is The Missing Editor that has puzzled switchers by its absence and kept veterans longing. With a wealth of exclusive features like tabs, foldings, and macros, TextMate is well ahead of other native, graphical editor on OS X—and you don’t have to sell your bones to afford it.
This doesn’t speak to me because I’ve never desired a Windows- or Unix-based editor, though I do think that Emacs has some features worth transplanting to the Mac world. The last clause is clearly a jab at BBEdit, but MacroMates should first worry about competing with the similarly priced SubEthaEdit and TextWrangler.
Some random thoughts, from two minutes of use, in order of discovery:
- Command-Delete doesn’t do anything.
- Page Up and Page Down move the insertion point—instant disqualification.
- The keyboard shortcuts are odd.
- There are no preferences, by design.
- The dynamic file outline and the folding capability could potentially be very useful.
- Safari’s tabs don’t interest me, and neither do these.
- The regex-based syntax modules are powerful and very flexible, but few languages are supported initially, and there seems to be no function pop-up. Makefiles support is nice, though.
- Language modules can affect editing behaviors. There’s potential there.
- It doesn’t remember the file encoding between open/close.
- It draws ligatures in ProFont, which messes up the spacing and the position of the insertion point.
- The find and replace capabilities are unimpressive.
The end of the TextMate page says:
But in the end it’s all about the touch and feel. We’ve given you a taste of the amazing and frequently exclusively [sic] features of TextMate, but in the end it’s all about the tactile experience. An editor needs to have a good fit. By going with Apple’s Cocoa framework, but avoiding the basic NSTextView that most other Cocoa-editors on OS X uses [sic], we’ve done our outmost [sic] to make TextMate feel good without compromising on the features.
I think this sentiment is exactly right. TextMate doesn’t feel like BBEdit, CodeWarrior, Alpha, QUED/M, or Symantec’s IDE. It also doesn’t feel like ProjectBuilder, Project Builder, Xcode, or third-party NSTextView-based editors such as SubEthaEdit and TeXShop. As a result, I think it feels all wrong, but TextMate wasn’t designed for old Mac hands like me. It was designed for switchers. I would have a hard time switching to another platform if it lacked an editor that felt right, so I can certainly understand MacroMates’ motivation here. I’m rooting for their success in making switchers feel at home on the Mac.
Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.