Purpose: Text/code editing
Format: Digital download
Developer: Mr. Fridge
Minimum System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6 or later, Intel processor
Availability: Out now
Tincta, a new text editor for Mac OS X, was a nice surprise. I’ve been a longtime fan of Smultron, an Open Source text editor by Peter Borg. However, Smultron has decamped to the Cloud, specifically the Mac App Store where it’s now exclusively available for $4.99 as opposed to formerly for free via Sourceforge. I try to avoid Apple’s walled garden as much as I can, and that method of distribution seems to me against the spirit of Open Source.
Happily, I found a nearly dead-ringer Open Source clone of Smulton from French developer Jean-François Moy, and have been using it ever since. But development evidently ceased in March, 2010, and while Fraise 3.7.3 still works well with Snow Leopard, I’ve been concerned about its future compatibility.
My favorite feature of Smultron/Fraise has been that they display multiple open documents in a left-hand list similar to iTunes so you can easily switch between them—functionality that suits my purposes well when using the program as a work-in-progress database of research information.
So, I was delighted to discover Tincta last week. Tincta’s user-interface layout is quite similar to Smultron and Fraise, and it’s available in both a free version (“Always free” the Website pointedly declares) and a feature-enhanced Pro version. Tincta’s developers say the app was written and designed from ground up, that they don’t use any third party code or technologies (besides Mac OS X) and that they keep their codebase small and clean to maintain maximum speed, avoid bugs and add improvements very quickly. However, it seems obvious they have been inspired by Smultron.
I’ve been using the free version in place of Fraise, and it makes a perfect, up-to-date and actively-developed substitute that, as a native 64-bit Mac OS X app, will unequivocally support OS X 10.7 Lion if and when I finally upgrade.
Features in both Tincta and Tincta Pro include:
- native 64bit Mac OS X app
- line numbering
- syntax coloring
- find & replace
- auto complete brackets
- auto indent
- highlight current line
- convert line endings
- block selection
- column guide
- spell checker
- convert encodings
- show invisible characters
- browser preview
If you pop the 13 bucks for Tincta Pro, you also get:
- split views
- integrated file browser
- script support
- snippet manager
- regex search and replace
- search and replace in all open files
- smaller sidebar icons
- auto update
An attribute of both apps, which share the same basic core, is speed, and it is indeed a lively responder.
Other features in both versions include:
- Syntax Coloring – Tincta combines intelligent coloring algorithms with the least resource use and comes with syntax definitions for over 65 languages. And you can also freely change the color profiles according to your taste.
- Line Numbering – Tincta’s line numbering engine is blazingly fast and also manages line wrapping, calculating every line correctly, even for large files.
- Small Things – Tincta supports full drag and drop, indents selected text when you press tab, knows when an open file was changed by another application, supports the OS X spellchecker, features block selection, and has an in-window live search with highlighting. The latter is convenient and works fine, but the keyword entry field is obscured when one is using Tincta with its window interface minimized, which is my standard mode working on a 13″ MacBook where screen real estate is always at a premium. Both Smultron and Fraise have floating Search dialogs.
Text editing features include live search and replace with highlighting, change case, show invisible characters, page guide, printing, spelling correction, convert line endings and convert tabs to spaces (or vice versa).
Tincta Pro’s Split Views feature could be very handy, allowing one to edit two files simultaneously side-by-side to compare, edit and even drag text from one to the other. Tincta Pro also supports the full power of Regular Expressions to search your files. And to speed up repetitive tasks, you can search and replace across all open files with one click. Also exclusive to Tincta Pro is support for any Unix compatible scripts like Python, Shell, or Perl and more. That means script programmer users can just click “Run” to test their code. and immediately see the output in a log file within the application.
Another Tincta Pro wrinkle is its built-in snippet manager that lets you organize snippets in groups and makes them easily accessible from the snippets menu. By assigning each snippet a shortcut you won’t need to take your hands off the keyboard; just type the shortcut and on pressing blank Tincta Pro automatically replaces the shortcut with the appropriate snippet while your cursor is set to the predefined position within. An integrated file browser lets you browse your project, and for each file you instantly get a Quicklook preview along with important file info like size and modification date. You can also open files directly from the file browser—including multiple files at once.
Finally, Tinca Pro features subtile interface tweaks tailoring it better to the needs of professional users, such as the sidebar items representing your open files being significantly smaller, allowing at least 20 open files to be visible without scrolling (on a 13″ MacBook).
Not being a coder, I can get along well with the fewer-featured free version of Tincta. But for those who can make good use of the Pro version’s enhanced feature set, it’s not difficult to see thirteen bucks worth of value added.
Buy Tincta Pro