Software Comfort Food

I find trying new software, reading manuals, and browsing release notes to be a perfectly fine way of enjoying a Saturday afternoon. It’s fun, but can lead to a certain amount of confusion. Where did I put that file? What should I use to edit this document?

Text editors are a good example. It used to be that, on a Mac, BBEdit was about the only decent choice. These days there are so many good editors it can lead to spending more time trying new tools than actually using them to get work (or whatever) done. I know, I’ve done this many times. It’s just that they’re all so good!

BBEdit, however, is the app that I return to when I just want to do stuff with text. Whether it’s writing this blog post, diff-ing files, writing code, or doing massive find/replace operations on huge files, it’s BBEdit that always works perfectly and does the right thing.

This makes BBEdit a bit like comfort food. There may be many other tasty dishes available, but when I’m just hungry and want something delicious, it’s the comfort food I return to.

Other software comfort foods for me are:

  • Tinderbox – I’ve written about Tinderbox many times. I use it for outlining, writing notes, journaling, concept mapping, and some publishing. There may be specific tools that do some of these better or faster, but Tinderbox does them all very well and in an application that I trust and love to use.
  • DEVONthink – Although Evernote has been rocking lately, and is pretty sexy, it’s got nothing on DEVONthink for long-term comfort. Evernote makes capture and sync easy, but DEVONthink does everything after that better. Also, Evernote makes getting my data out of it in one piece difficult, and that makes me especially uncomfortable.
  • NetNewsWire – Many new feed readers have cropped up recently. I’ve tried most of them, but I find none as solid and efficient as NetNewsWire.
  • OmniFocus – This one is trickier. Things app has gotten very good and can, for a while, feel like all I need. But I always seem to outgrow it and end up back in OmniFocus. It’s been like that for years, and the sense of relief I feel when loading up all my tasks back into OmniFocus suggests that it remains a comfort food.
  • Safari – Still my favorite browser. Does everything pretty well, nothing fancy.

So, while it’s fun to experiment with new things, most of the time I end up back with my software comfort foods.