Stanza Free Reader for iOS Updated

Stanza, the free ereader for iOS was broken, quite badly, by the iOS 5 update. Since Lexicycle was purchased by Amazon, Stanza had remained moribound (the previous update to Stanza for iOS was nine months ago). But today Amazon released an update for iOS 5, and it does seem to be working.

You can read about the likely EOL of Stanza for iOS via Macworld.

It’s a shame; Stanza is really quite an elegant reader.

Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit 10

I’ve been waiting with great impatience for BBEdit 10 to be available from the Mac App store since July 19, when I read this enticing review by Adam Engst of TidBITS. Today, Apple approved BBEdit 10 for the Mac App store, and I’ve been benefitting from the re-design and new features already. Note that BBEdit 10 requires Snow Leopard or Lion, and Intel processors.

BBEdit is a text editor. It’s the more powerful version of the excellent and free Text Wrangler. BBEdit has features that TextWrangler lacks, like very powerful tools for HTML and CSS, though I suspect BBEdit is still used largely by programmers writing code, I’ve been using BBEdit for HTML since 1997.

I spend much of my day in BBEdit, since it’s so flexible and while it’s extremely powerful, BBEdit doesn’t get in my way when I simply want to write. I now use BBEdit even when I’m not writing HTML, just because it’s so very useful. You can remove various sorts of invisible leftover binary or odd characters, you can covert to ASCII, the Search and Replace features are very powerful, easy to use, and include GREP.

The first thing I noticed is that the Preferences have been completely overhauled; they’re compact and better organized; it’s much easier to find where a particular setting lives. Some of the more obscure Preference settings have been removed from the GUI, but you can still set them via Terminal, via Help –> BBEdit Help –> Expert Preferences.

Other items have been moved to the new BBEdit Settings window; you’ll find Settings under the Application menu (that is the BBEdit menu) in BBEdit. This is where your FTP/SFTP accounts and paths (Bookmarks in BBEdit parlance) are stored, as well as Search/Replace patterns you reuse, and your HTML Sites information.

New features include support for DropBox; that means you can create an Application Support folder in DropBox and move the BBEdit folder from ~/Library/Application Support/ to ~/Dropbox/Application Support/. That way you can share your templates, text factories, snippets etc. across all the Macs on which you use BBEdit. Packages, a related new feature, makes it easy to share ancillary files with collaborators via DropBox.

Another really cool new feature is the ability to edit files from a Zip archive, including using Search and Replace, and save them back to the archive. That’s nice, but what makes it a cool new feature is that ePub (or ePUB as Adobe would have it) books are really a collection of text and HTML/CSS files in a Zip archive. BBEdit 10 can edit those files inside the Zip. That’s very very cool.

Image of the HTML palettes in BBEdit 10In terms of HTML specific new features, there’s a popover that lists the attributes of a specific tag, and which allows you to choose all the attributes for the given tag. If you control-click a tag in your document, you can choose to Edit Markup, and display the popover. For those new to BBEdit, that image to the left shows two of the BBEdit Palettes associated with HTML and CSS. There’s also an exceedingly convenient Entities palette.

The re-design of the Document Window and the addition of a Project window, which allows you to group related files together are both very interesting; I previously turned off the option for the document drawer; it annoyed me, terribly, but the new Document Window is worth a look, and the Project Window might actually save me time and help with organization, especially with the use of the Scratchpad, a global note pad that has all sorts of use in terms of cleaning up text before HTMLing it, or stashing bits of CSS.

That said, I’m Profoundly Not Happy about the absence of the Phrase palette. I miss the easy select-text-and-click access to Em and Strong, but I’m absolutely beside myself at the absence of the Cite tag. Yes, I know, it’s still there in the Markup menu, but honestly, as a book-and-scholarship writer and blogger, I need easy, efficient access to Cite.

Normally, BBEdit is $49.99. Right now, until October 20, 2011, you can buy a new license for $39.99. I note that the educational price I paid for BBEdit Pro in the 1990s and first half of this decade was between $75.00 and $90.00. Anyone who purchased BBEdit 9 after 1 January 2011 is eligible for a free upgrade. If you’re a long term user of BBEdit you can still upgrade directly from Bare Bones Software, otherwise, you can buy BBEdit 10 from the MacApp Store. I suggest, if you’re new to BBEdit and cautious, that you might want to download and use the free 30 day trial of BBEdit 10 first.

Take Control of TextExpander

TidBITS via their Take Control Books have released a fabulous guide to getting the most out of TextExpander (you can read about TextExpander here); Michael E. Cohen’s Take Control of TextExpander. Like all Take Control books, this one has the Quick Start section, making it easy to set up TextExpander right from the start. Take Control of TextExpander offers complete soup to nuts coverage of TextExpander from downloading and installing to configuring and using AppleScript and Terminal with TextExpander. Cohen consistently offers practical examples, beginning with a step-by-step walk-through for creating your first snippet. Cohen includes examples and explanations for each kind of snippet, and suggestions about how to organize and label your snippets for easy use. There’s a super discussion about backing up your snippets, sharing them, importing other people’s snippets, and more. There’s even an extremely useful Appendix on how to use TextExpander Touch for iOS devices.

I’m a fan of TakeControl books; they’re well-written, easy to use, and affordable at $10.00 for the ebook versions. Take Control for TextExpander is one of the most useful and easy to follow Take Control books I’ve read. The documentation and help for TextExpander is adequate, but not stellar. This book combines practical and theoretical information, and is so easy to navigate to find exactly what you want, that it made TextExpander far more useful to me far more rapidly than I expected. I’ve been using TextExpander for about a month now, daily, and I’ve gone back to this book a handful of times to find out how to do something, and each time, I’ve found just the information I needed in seconds.


I forgot to link to the TidBit’s post about the contents of Take Control of TextExpander.