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TextWrangler vs. nedit: will TW recapture mindshare?
Authored by: Bioinformatics on Jan 19, '05 05:07:26PM

I once used BBEdit Lite as my editor of choice, then migrated as it aged. I considered buying BBEdit, but when BareBones lifted the price from US$79, I abandoned the idea.

After trying many editors, I've settled on nedit, an editor that rarely seems to be mentioned in the context of free editors. It'll be interesting to see if the now-free TextWrangler regains my mind-share. For those you have yet to settle on one editor or a flexible about it, do look at TextWrangler. I can recommend it.

Let's compare some aspects of the two. Might help to put TW into perspective for some, perhaps.

nedit reasonably powerful without having too many unwanted "extras" and is cross-platform (I program on both Linux and OSX, with Windows as a client occasionally). nedit has tabs, split windows, smart indenting, brace balancing, rectangular cut'n'paste, shell interaction, macros, user-tweakable syntax colouring, strong searching, etc. Enough for me.

TW has all these things, too, although its not cross-platform AFAIK.

TW has a graphical diff, although you can get this via Apple's Developer Tools also. (Unix diff is so bad I wrote my own replacement...) Editing over FTP could be useful and may compensate for the lack of a Linux edition by accessing the Linux files over the local network. I certainly will continue to use nedit on Linux, however. Nice to see TW can use sftp (vs. plain ftp). The Cocoa interface and proper Apple key bindings will definitely help - one peeve I do have with nedit is the use of control key strokes; it is consistent within nedit across platforms, but inconsistent with Apple (nedit is X-based).

The use of a drawer (TW) rather than tabs (nedit) to switch between open documents is interesting; drawers take more screen space, but allow full filenames and more files to be visible. Both TW and nedit have a pull-down menu in addition to the tabs or drawer. Both applications can have multiple windows with several documents in each. In both you can move documents from one window to another, although TW's approach is cleaner. Drag the name in the document drawer to the drawer in the other window. Done! If you drag the name to an (empty) open window, as opposed to the drawer, the contents of the document are copied to the new window, leaving the old document in the original window - that'll be very useful for working with templates. The implementation of this very slick, typical of good OSX apps.

Better stop boring! I hope this gives a quick glimpse at TW's abilities.



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