Miscellaneous Ramblings

The Future of Tex-Edit Plus on the Mac

Charles Moore - 2011.01.17 - Tip Jar

It's difficult for me to pick an all-time favorite Mac application. Different types of software do different things for you. However, for me, Tex-Edit Plus (TE+) has to be one of the strongest contenders. (For more on why Moore loves Tex-Edit Plus, see Tex-Edit Plus: Powerful Styled Text Editing for OS X and the Classic Mac OS, Using Tex-Edit Plus and AppleScript for HTML Markup and his review of Tex-Edit Enhancer. ed)

Since the mid-late 1990s, Tex-Edit Plus - described by its developer as a "scriptable, styled text editor that fills the gap between Apple's bare-bones SimpleText and a full-featured word processor" - has been my main text crunching tool and general dogsbody program.

The vast bulk of my archives and much of my research materials are stored in Tex-Edit documents. Most of my composing, editing, and HTML markup has been done in Tex-Edit Plus for about 15 years now. It's been fast, slick, versatile, and reliable, and its close integration with and support of AppleScript has made it a joy and a pleasure to use, as well as a big-time efficiency enhancer.

Another thing I love about TE+ is its backward compatibility. The latest OS X version of the application fully supports documents I created on Tex-Edit some 15 years ago, and as a matter of fact I use the last PowerPC version of the app most of the time with Classic Mode in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on my Pismo PowerBooks, mainly because there's an auto-scrolling app I find useful that's never been released in an OS X version.

Consequently, I was dismayed when the Trans-Tex Software website, home of Tex-Edit Plus, dropped from the Internet for a few days in early January. Tex-Edit Plus hadn't been updated for a long time, although it has been working so well and is such an integral part of my workflow, I guess I just began taking it for granted.

I dashed off an email to Tex-Edit Plus developer Tom Bender, who got back to me directly, explaining that there had been some sort of glitch with his website hosting service and that the Trans-Tex site was already back online, which it was when I checked.

Sigh of relief. I don't know what I would do without Tex-Edit Plus. There are other good text editors, word processors, and HTML authoring applications out there, but none that combines all three plus the highly-integrated and easily customizable TE+ implementation of AppleScript in one neat and comprehensive package that pretty well does everything I need a text application to do.

However, while Tex-Edit Plus still works just fine in Mac OS X 10.6.6 Snow Leopard, it is a Carbon application with a few Cocoa elements grafted on, and I expect that at some point Apple will pull the plug on Carbon support. So it was good to hear from Tom that although he's been quite busy with other developments in his life for the past couple of years and has not had enough time to invest the quality time he needs to finish Tex-Edit Plus's conversion to Cocoa yet, he's planning on having more time any day now - although those plans could change due to forces beyond his control.

I also asked Tom whether he had any plans to migrate Tex-Edit Plus to the Mac App Store, noting that while I have some misgivings and reservations about Apple's "walled garden", it seems to be an attractive proposition for shareware developers. He observed that he might be interested it's non-exclusive, although being a bit of a nonconformist, he hopes the Mac App Store never becomes the only way to purchase software for the Mac.

Me too. Glad he feels that way.

In the meantime, I'm eagerly anticipating that Cocoa-native version of Tex-Edit Plus, whenever it arrives.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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