Bare Bones Software BBEdit and Macromedia HomeSite

by Joe Gillespie — Aug 1, 1998

When it comes to hand-coding HTML, two products stand out from the rest. Bare Bones Software's BBEDit (Mac) and Allaire HomeSite (PC) do a similar job. They are both text editors with added features to aid the creation of Web pages.

Both programs have facilities for auto-inserting all the usual tags at the press of a button. This saves a lot of keying and possible typing mistakes. They will also edit on-line files, do search and replace across multiple files, validate the code you have written and launch your page in your choice of external browsers.

So much for the similarities.

BBEdit has long been the editor of choice for many programmers writing in other programming languages like Pascal, C and C++. It has a very clean, if austere interface with a single bank of captioned buttons in a floating palette. No need for tooltips here! It is equally at home with Mac, UNIX or DOS text handling and can save files in any of these formats.

Its search and replace function is extremely powerful as it can use GREP - wildcard matching - to change parts of a string, leaving the rest intact. Changing all references to a URL or image path on a whole site takes only seconds - once you get to grips with GREP and its peculiar syntax.

Another very useful feature in BBEDit 4.5 is its Table Builder which is a WYSIWYG way of generating the code for complex tables at the outset although, once generated, you are on your own.

Much of BBEdit's power is hidden behind menus and its button palette but, in complete contrast, HomeSite's many bells and whistles are all up front. It uses just about every graphical interface mechanism in the book - all at once! It has multi-paned windows, tabs, icons for everything (with tooltips), popup color palettes. So much for elegant simplicity!

HomeSite 3.0.2, being a dedicated HTML editor, has a few features that are missing from BBEdit, mainly because they are PC specific, like ActiveX controls, and it does recognise that there are different versions of JavaScript. It's validation facilities are almost infinitely configurable against different HTML standards where BBEdit just offers 'check HTML'.

There are lots of built-in tutorials and help pages that feature just about every aspect of Web page design right down to telling which browser supports which CSS properties.

A HomeSite Evaluation version is available to download.

Where BBEdit really scores for me personally, is that it is AppleScriptable. That means that many repetitive or complex operations can be automated with an easily written script. In conjunction with its awesome search and replace feature, this is a tremendous boost to productivity and helps minimises errors.

A demo version of BBEdit 4.5 is available.

When Macromedia bundled text editors with their DreamWeaver WYSIWYG editor, they chose BBEDit and HomeSite for their respective Mac and PC versions because they lead their fields. No matter what other WYSIWYG editor you might use, you should have one of these two as well.

Bare Bones Software BBEdit
Features red bar85%
Ease of Use yellow bar85%
Value for Money green bar85%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar95%
Manufacturer Bare Bones Software
Price $119.00
Summary Not quite so well featured as HomeSite but a pleasure to use.
Allaire HomeSite 3.0.2
Features red bar95%
Ease of Use yellow bar70%
Value for Money green bar90%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar90%
Manufacturer Allaire Corporation, Inc.
Price $79.00 (electronic) $89 (boxed)
Summary All the functionality and features but ugly interface.
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