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TextMate is a general-purpose GUI text editor for macOS created by Allan Odgaard. TextMate features declarative customizations, tabs for open documents, recordable macros, folding sections, snippets, shell integration, and an extensible bundle system. TextMate can handle it all by associating detailed scope selectors with key shortcuts, settings, etc. Commands The UNIX underpinnings of macOS allows custom actions to be written in any language that can work with stdin, stdout, and environment variables, and for complex interactions TextMate expose both WebKit and a dialog framework for Mac. TextMate is a versatile plain text editor with a unique and innovative feature set which caused it to win an Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Developer Tool in August 2006. TextMate is an unsophisticated text editor that allows you to use syntax highlight themes for various scripting languages. User-friendly workflow and intuitive design The TextMate main window is focused on text processing and eliminated all possible distractions.
Platform: Mac OS X Price: Free! Ability to Search and Replace in a Project; Auto-Indent for Common Actions Like Pasting Text; Auto-Pairing of Brackets and Other.
|Developer(s)||Allan Odgaard (MacroMates), Ciarán Walsh|
|Initial release||5 October 2004; 16 years ago|
2.0.6 / 28 December 2019; 9 months ago
|Type||Source code editor|
TextMate is a general-purpose GUItext editor for macOS created by Allan Odgaard. TextMate features declarative customizations, tabs for open documents, recordable macros, folding sections, snippets, shell integration, and an extensible bundle system.
TextMate 1.0 was released on 5 October 2004, after 5 months of development, followed by version 1.0.1 on 21 October 2004. The release focused on implementing a small feature set well, and did not have a preference window or a toolbar, didn't integrate FTP, and had no options for printing. At first only a small number of programming languages were supported, as only a few “language bundles” had been created. Even so, some developers found this early and incomplete version of TextMate a welcome change to a market that was considered stagnated by the decade-long dominance of BBEdit.
TextMate 1.0.2 came out on 10 December 2004. In the series of TextMate 1.1 betas, TextMate gained features: a preferences window with a GUI for creating and editing themes; a status bar with a symbol list; menus for choosing language and tab settings, and a “bundle editor” for editing language-specific customizations. On 6 January 2006, Odgaard released TextMate 1.5, the first “stable release” since 1.0.2. Reviews were positive, in contrast to earlier versions that had been criticised.
TextMate continued to develop through mid-2006. On 8 August 2006, TextMate was awarded the Apple Design Award for Best Developer Tool, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, to “raucous applause.” In February 2006, the TextMate blog expressed intentions for future directions, including improved project management, with a plug-in system to support remote file systems such as FTP, and revision control systems such as Subversion. Throughout 2007, the core application changed only minimally, though its “language bundles” continued to advance.
In June 2009, TextMate 2 was announced as being about 90 percent complete, but with an undisclosed final-feature list. A public alpha was made available for download on the TextMate blog in December 2011, followed by a release candidate at the end of 2016. In September 2019, a final version was released.
In August 2012, TextMate 2's source code was published on GitHub under the terms of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, an attempt by the developer to counteract restrictions Apple placed on software distributed through the Mac App Store. TextMate licenses continue to be sold on macromates.com, however. Odgaard stated he prefers receiving patches as public domain as this preserves his ability to release a future version under a more permissive license, or to make a version available on the Mac App Store. Odgaard also stated he has a friend who uses some of TextMate's frameworks in a closed-source project, and they could not incorporate patches released under GPL.
TextMate allows users to create their own arbitrarily complex syntax highlighting modes by using a modified version of the Apple ASCII property list format to define language grammars. These grammars allow nesting rules to be defined using the Onigurumaregular expression library, and then assigned specific “scopes”: compound labels which identify them for coloration.
Therefore, each point of a document is assigned one or more scopes, which define where in the document the point is, how it should be colored, and what the behavior of TextMate should be at that point. For instance, the title of one of the links in the “External links” section has the scope:
This scope tells us that we are looking at a link title within a link within a list within a MediaWiki document.
TextMate themes can mark up any scope, at varying levels of precision. For instance, one theme may decide to color every constant (
constant.*) identically, while another may decide that numerical constants (
constant.numeric.*) should be colored differently than escaped characters (
constant.character.escape.*). The hierarchal scope syntax allows language authors and theme authors various levels of coverage, so that each one can choose to opt for simplicity or comprehensiveness, as desired.
TextMate supports user-defined and user-editable commands that are interpreted by bash or the interpreter specified with a shebang. Commands can be sent many kinds of input by TextMate (the current document, selected text, the current word, etc.) in addition to environment variables and their output can be similarly be handled by TextMate in a variety of ways. At its most simple, a command might receive the selected text, transform it, and re-insert it into the document replacing the selection. Other commands might simply show a tool tip, create a new document for their output, or display it as a web page using TextMate's built-in HTML renderer.
Many language-specific bundles such as bash, PHP or Ruby contain commands for compiling and/or running the current document or project. In many cases the STDOUT and STDERR of the code's process will be displayed in a window in TextMate.
At their simplest, TextMate “snippets” are pieces of text which can be inserted into the document at the current location via a context-sensitive key stroke or tab completion. Snippets are 'intelligent', supporting 'tab stops' dynamic updating, access to environment variables, and the ability to run inline scripts. This allows complicated behaviors. Tab stops can be cycled through using the “tab” key and support default text, drop-downs, to complete elements of the snippet. The results of these tab stops can be dynamically changed in another portion of the snippet, as the user fills in a stop. TextMate environment variables can be used, supporting information about the current scope, line number, or author name, etc. Snippets also have the ability to run inline shell scripts.
TextMate language grammars, snippets, macros, commands, and templates can be grouped into “bundles” of functionality. Any snippet, macro, or command can be executed by pressing a keyboard shortcut, by typing a particular word and then pressing the “tab” key (so-called “tab triggers”), or by selecting the command from a menu. Tab triggers are particularly useful; the combination of tab triggers and snippets greatly eases coding in verbose languages, or languages with commonly typed patterns.
Snippets, macros, and commands can be limited to a particular scope, so that for instance the “close html tag” command does not work in a python script, freeing up that keyboard shortcut to be used for something else. This allows individual languages, and even individual scopes, to override built-in commands such as “Reformat Paragraph” with more specialized versions. Even special keys such as the return key and spacebar can be overridden.
A Subversion repository is available containing many more bundles than are shipped with the editor package, for everything from Markdown to blogging to MIPS assembly language.
Several documents or folders can be opened at once in a TextMate project window, which provides a drawer along its side listing file and folder names, and a series of tabs across the top. In TextMate 1.5, this drawer provides a means for users to organize files and folders from across the file system, as well as the ability to create virtual folders for further organization. This feature was removed from TextMate 2 and replaced with an ordinary file browser. Search and replace can be undertaken across an entire project, and commands can interact with the selected files or folders in the drawer. Bundles for CVS, Subversion, darcs, and other revision control systems allow TextMate to manage versioned code.
TextMate has many features common to programming editors:
- Folding code sections can be used to hide areas of a document not currently being edited, for a more compact view of code structure or to avoid distraction. The sections to be folded can be selected by hand, or the structure of the document itself can be used to determine foldings.
- Regular-expression–based search and replace speeds complicated text manipulations. TextMate uses the Oniguruma regular expression library developed by K. Kosako.
- A function pop-up provides a list of sections or functions in the current document.
- Clipboard history allows users to cut many sections of text at once, and then paste them.
- Column editing mode allows adding the same text to several rows of text, and is very useful for manipulating tabular data.
- 'rmate' support for launching textmate as editor for files from remote servers - much improved over work-arounds needed in version 1 
In addition, TextMate supports features to integrate well with the OS X graphical environment:
- Clipboard graphical history supports pasting from previous copies, including prior launches.
- Find and replace support an analogous graphical history.
- Editing is further enhanced by multiple cursors (insertion points), and the ability to extend the current selection to additional instances creating multiple cursors.
- A WebKit-based HTML view window shows live updates as an HTML document is edited.
- VoiceOver and Zoom users can use TextMate thanks to its accessibility support.
TextMate does have a few limitations when compared to other editors in its class:
- Because TextMate is not tightly coupled to a scripting language, as Emacs is to Emacs Lisp, it is impossible for users to have complete control over the program's configuration and behavior. Allan Odgaard explained his thoughts on the subject in an email to the TextMate mailing list, advocating for 'platform-recommended' solutions.
- No built-in HTML validator — because TextMate uses the W3C validator for HTML validation, users must have an active network connection to validate HTML using the standard functionality.
- Despite its substantial support for macros, commands, and snippets, TextMate has no built-in support for code-hinting or guided code-completion, so text editors that support these features may prove to be a better choice when learning the syntax of a new language or coding in verbose languages.
- TextMate is not binary safe. It is explicitly text only, and does not guarantee that arbitrary binary data in a file will be preserved through a load/save cycle, regardless of whether that data is edited.
TextMate has a community of users, who contribute to the git repository of open-source TextMate bundles. The TextMate wiki has hints and tips, feature suggestions, and links to external resources. A ticket system exists for filing bug reports and feature requests, and an IRC channel (#textmateconnect) is usually active.
TextMate bundles exist to support code written in many dozens of programming languages. The Ruby and Ruby on Rails bundles are supported by David Heinemeier Hansson, Ruby on Rails’ creator.
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TextMate 1.5 won the Apple Design Award for best developer tool in 2006.
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- ^David Hansson. “TextMate 1.0 is finally here!”, TextMate Blog, 5 October 2004.
- ^Allan Odgaard. “Profiles/Allan Odgaard” on the TextMate wiki, 20 November 2005.
- ^David Hansson. “TextMate 1.0.1 emerges after nine betas”, TextMate Blog, 21 October 2005.
- ^Matt Willmore. “TextMate 1.0.1 Review: A Checkmate for TextMate?Archived 2006-08-20 at the Wayback Machine”, Maczealots.com, 8 October 2004.
- ^Michael “drunkenbatman” Bell. “TextMate: The Missing Editor for OS XArchived 2006-05-14 at the Wayback Machine”, Drunkenblog, 4 November 2004.
- ^Kimbro Staken. “A cool new text editor - TextMate - Mac OS XArchived 2004-12-04 at Archive.today”, Inspirational Technology, 6 October 2004.
- ^Allan Odgaard. “TextMate 1.5”, TextMate Blog, 6 January 2006.
- ^Rui Carmo. “Third Time’s The Charm”, Tao of Mac, 8 January 2006.
- ^John Gruber. “ADA: TextMate 1.5.2”, Daring Fireball Linked List, 8 August 2006.
- ^Allan Odgaard. “Future Directions”, TextMate Blog, 15 February 2006.
- ^TextMate Blog: Working on It, 14 June 2009
- ^TextMate Github: , Sep 16, 2019
- ^GitHub, , Aug 9, 2012
- ^'TextMate 2.0 goes open source in response to OS X restrictions'.
TextMate developer MacroMates announced on Thursday that the code for TextMate 2.0, currently in alpha, is now available via the online GitHub repository. The code is being open sourced in order to counteract what some developers see as Apple's increasingly limiting user and developer freedom on the Mac platform.
- ^'License Policy'. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
- ^Odgaard, (2009). CONTRIBUTING.md.
- ^'Odgaard: 'I will continue working on TextMate as long as I am a Mac user''.
Many open source proponents and would-be code contributors were vociferous in their opposition to Odgaard's choice of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, while asking upstream code patches to carry a public domain license. The problem, unfortunately, is the tug-of-war between FOSS principles and the desires of commercial ventures.
- ^For information on getting more bundles, see the relevant section in the TextMate manual.
- ^'20 Regular Expressions'. TextMate. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- ^How to edit files from my FTP Server as a TextMate project. TextMate Wiki - FAQ: Projects
- ^Support accessibility in text view - VoiceOver and Zoom. GitHub pull request
- ^Allan Odgaard. “Re: Changing cursor position from command”. TextMate mailing list. 14 February 2007.
- Gray, James Edward II (January 2007). Textmate: Power Editing for the Mac. Pragmatic Bookshelf. ISBN0-9787392-3-X.
TextMate has a few options in the advanced preferences which affect how to save files.
Atomic saves mean that instead of overwriting the file, TextMate saves to a new file and once this succeeds, overwrites the old file. This has the advantage that if your machine should crash while saving a file, you do not run the risk of losing the contents of both the old (last-saved) and new files.
The downside is that since a new file is actually written to disk (with a new inode), you may break an alias to the file, although this happens only if you also moved the file, or will move it, since path has precedence over inodes when resolving aliases. Also, the Finder will reposition the icon of the file each time you save it (which is only a problem if the file is in a folder you keep in sight).
The creator code is how Classic Macs associated a file with its application. On OS X the association is mainly through the file extension, which has the advantage that if you one day get a better program (!) to handle a given file type, you only need to update the association in one place, instead of changing the creator code of all your saved files. For this reason the recommendation is to not set this or set it to Blank.
TextMate is heavily biased toward UTF-8. UTF-8 is an ASCII compatible encoding, so using it should give no problems with existing tools such as
ruby (the interpreter),
gcc (the compiler) etc.
Since the file system uses UTF-8 for filenames, Terminal is set to UTF-8 by default (to have the result from e.g.
ls show correctly). This means that if you
cat a non-ASCII file in Terminal or run a script which outputs more than ASCII (e.g. uses ellipsis or curly quotes), it will only show correctly if the output is UTF-8 (unless you change Terminal’s encoding).
In addition, UTF-8 is the only encoding that can represent all the characters you can type on your Mac. Even things like the euro symbol (€) will give a problem with the older (legacy) encodings.
And as an extra bonus, UTF-8 is the only 8 bit encoding which is recognizable with a near 100% certainty, which means that as long as you use UTF-8, you should no longer experience opening a file and the text editor making a wrong guess about the encoding used (which can mess up the file if you then save it without noticing it).
A final argument for UTF-8 is that TextMate is only providing the infrastructure for a lot of functionality. All this functionality is written as scripts and these work with the current document, files in your project, the selection etc. An action might be to transform text, show a result as HTML in a new document etc. In almost all these situations, having to deal with encoding is impractical and sometimes not even possible (like if the result can not be represented using the encoding of the source), so for all this stuff, UTF-8 is assumed.
There is a post on the TextMate blog about how to handle UTF-8 in miscellaneous situations (POST’ing data to a web-server, setting the encoding for LaTeX documents, etc.).
Having said all that, it is possible to change the default encoding and if you only need to save out a single file with another encoding you can adjust that in the Save As… dialog. The list of encodings is short and it is intentionally that way. If you need to use other encodings, the current advice is to use
You can run
iconv -l for a list of the hundreds of encodings it supports.
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To convert a set of files to UTF-8 in the terminal, you can run something like this:
Extended Attributes (Metadata)
Starting with Tiger, OS X supports
setxattr and friends.
TextMate makes use of extended attributes to store the carets position, bookmarks, what text is folded and is likely to make further use of extended attributes in the future.
For filesystems which do not natively support extended attributes (like network mounted disks), OS X instead stores the extra information in a file named
«filename» is the name of the original file.
Since not all users think that this extra (hidden) file is worth having in order for TextMate to remember state, it is possible to disable the use of extended attributes by quitting TextMate and running the following from the shell:
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Save Automatically when Focus Is Lost
If you are working with a project where you test your work by switching to another application (e.g. Terminal or a browser) you can set TextMate to save all modified files, when the focus is lost. That way, when you switch to the other application, TextMate will automatically save all your changes.