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BBEdit icon
BBEdit screenshot
BBEdit editing its own Wikipedia article
Developer(s) Bare Bones Software
Initial release 1991; 24 years ago (1991)
Stable release 11.1[1] / April 29, 2015 (2015-04-29)
Operating system Mac OS X
Type Text editor
License Proprietary

BBEdit is a proprietary text editor made by Bare Bones Software. Originally developed for Macintosh System Software 6, it is now available for OS X.[2]


The first version of BBEdit was created as a "bare bones" text editor to serve as a "proof of concept"; the intention was to demonstrate the programming capabilities of an experimental version of Pascal for the Macintosh. The original prototypes of BBEdit used the TextEdit control available in versions of Mac OS of the time. The TextEdit control could not load files larger than 32 KB, but after the experimental Macintosh Pascal project was terminated, the demonstration program was reworked to use the text editing engine from THINK C and THINK Pascal; this engine was much faster and could read larger files. As such, BBEdit was the first freestanding text editor to use the "PE" editing engine that had been created for THINK C and THINK Pascal, and is the only one still being developed (not including its own direct derivatives BBEdit Lite and TextWrangler).

In 1994, taking advantage of BBEdit's then-novel plugin support, third party developers started writing plug-ins to easily create and format HTML code. In fact, the developers at Bare Bones Software first learned of the existence of HTML through users inquiring about these plug-ins. Barebones later bought the rights to the plugin code from their author and included them as part of the standard BBEdit package. The tools were included as an optional palette in version 4, and were progressively more integrated, gaining their own menu in version 5.0. BBEdit's plugin support was removed in version 9.6, in favor of the expanded selection of scripting languages available for Mac OS X.

BBEdit was available at no charge upon its initial release in 1991, but was commercialized in May 1993 with the release of version 2.5.[1]

At the same time, Bare Bones Software also made a less-featured version of BBEdit 2.5 called BBEdit Lite available at no cost. BBEdit Lite lacked plugin support, scriptability, syntax coloring and other features then deemed as mainly for advanced users. Bare Bones Software discontinued BBEdit Lite at version 6.1 and replaced it with TextWrangler, which was available for a fee, although significantly less than BBEdit. In 2005, TextWrangler 2.0 was released as freeware and subsequent versions continue to be distributed as such.[3]

BBEdit was one of the first applications to be made available for Mac OS X, as a Carbon app. On OS X BBEdit takes advantage of the operating system's Unix underpinnings by integrating scripts written in Python, Perl, or other common Unix scripting languages, as well as adding features such as shell worksheets that provide a screen editor interface to command line functionality similar to MPW Worksheets and Emacs shell buffers.

BBEdit's creator code R*ch refers to Rich Siegel, one of Bare Bones Software's founders and the original author of BBEdit.


BBEdit is designed for use by software developers and web designers.[2] It has native support for many programming languages and custom modules can be created by users to support any language. BBEdit is not a word processor, meaning it does not have text formatting or page layout features.

The application contains multi-file text searching capabilities including support for Perl-compatible regular expressions. BBEdit allows previewing and built-in validation of HTML markup and also provides prototypes for most HTML constructs that can be entered into a dialog box. It also includes FTP and SFTP tools and integrates with code management systems. BBEdit shows differences between file versions and allows for the merging of changes. Support for version control, including CVS, Perforce, and Subversion is built in.[2]

A number of applications and developer tools provide direct support for using BBEdit as a third-party source code editor.

BBEdit supports the Open Scripting Architecture and can be scripted and recorded using AppleScript and other languages, as well as having the ability to execute AppleScripts itself.[4]

Language support[edit]

BBEdit supports syntax highlighting for a wide variety of popular computer languages. As of version 10.1, these include: ANSI C, C++, CSS, Fortran (through Fortran 95), HTML, Java, JavaScript, JSP, Lasso, Object Pascal, Objective-C, Objective-C++, Perl, PHP, Python, Rez, Ruby, Setext, SQL (including Transact-SQL, PL/SQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL), Tcl, TeX, UNIX shell scripts, XML, and YAML. BBEdit's SDK allows users to develop additional language modules.[5]

Freeware versions[edit]

BBEdit Lite[edit]

BBEdit Lite is a freeware text editor by Bare Bones Software, created as a low-cost, stripped-down or "lightweight" version of their flagship product BBEdit.[6][7] BBEdit Lite had many of the same features as BBEdit such as regular expressions, a plug-in architecture and the same text editing engine. However, BBEdit Lite lacked programming and web-oriented tools such as syntax highlighting, a command line shell, HTML tools or FTP access.

In 2003, Bare Bones introduced the commercial TextWrangler editor, which was an enhanced version of BBEdit Lite.[7][8] Bare Bones stopped development on BBEdit Lite upon TextWrangler's introduction. Later, TextWrangler 2.0 was made available at no charge.[9] BBEdit Lite remains available for Mac OS Classic but is unsupported on OS X.


Developer(s) Bare Bones Software
Stable release 4.5.12 / December 9, 2014 (2014-12-09)
Operating system OS X
Type Text editor
License Proprietary

TextWrangler is a text editor for Mac OS X from Bare Bones Software. It was originally a commercial product, but (beginning with version 2.0) has become the freeware alternative to their flagship editor, BBEdit, and the successor to BBEdit Lite.

Like BBEdit, TextWrangler lacks formatting and style options — it is limited to editing and manipulation of plain text. TextWrangler has features common to most programming text editors, such as syntax highlighting for various programming languages, a find and replace function, spell check, and data comparison. TextWrangler also includes extensive scripting support using AppleScript, Python, Perl, Shell scripts, and BBEdit's native Text Factories. TextWrangler's find and replace allows the use of regular expressions. Python, Perl, and shell scripts can be run directly from the program. TextWrangler also provides numerous options for reformatting text, although in common with most Macintosh software, it lacks an overstrike mode.

TextWrangler can read and save files in various encodings, including Unicode (various encodings), ASCII, Latin-1 and Latin-9.


  1. ^ Bare Bones Software (2015). "BBEdit 11.1 Release Notes". Retrieved 2015-05-01. 
  2. ^ a b c Bare Bones Software (2008). "Bare Bones Software - BBEdit 9". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Bare Bones Software. "BBEdit’s Other Useful Features". Archived from the original on 4 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  5. ^ Bare Bones Software. "BBEdit’s Display Features". Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  6. ^ MacTech July 1993 Newsbits,
  7. ^ a b Bare Bones Company History,
  8. ^ MacWorld, BBEdit, February 2003.
  9. ^ BareBones TextWrangler FAQ

External links[edit]