What do you do? I write Daring Fireball.
When did you start using BBEdit? 1992, during my sophomore year in college. I even remember the first time I saw BBEdit. My friend Dave Garozzo had it running on his Mac IIci in his dorm room, and as soon as I saw it, I wanted it. I was studying computer science and was dying to replace Vi (via a terminal window) with a good native Mac editor.
What do you make? How does BBEdit help? On a daily basis, I use BBEdit for writing. But I also use it for everything from web design to programming. BBEdit helps me in numerous ways. I'd be lost without grep search. I've cobbled together a bunch of custom scripts -- both AppleScript and Unix shell filters -- that save me time and aggravation every day. BBEdit always feels fast and responsive, no matter how many files I have open, or how big they are. Perhaps most importantly, though, is that it is dependable. I can think of no better adjective for a tool.
What's your favorite project that BBEdit has helped bring to life? I've spent most of my professional career designing, building, and writing for websites, so I think I can honestly say I haven't made a single dollar in my adult life that didn't involve BBEdit to some degree. I even made use of BBEdit while doing print design work with QuarkXPress and InDesign -- to massage and tweak the contents of text files containing body copy before importing them. But I do have a favorite project. In 2004 I created Markdown, a text-to-HTML conversion tool that allows you to write in an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format and convert it to HTML. I crafted the syntax and programmed the reference implementation in Perl using BBEdit. My Perl script works as a BBEdit shell filter, so my development process worked like this: I'd have two windows open -- one, a text document written in Markdown format; the other, my in-development Markdown.pl script. I assigned a custom menu key shortcut to invoke the Markdown.pl filter. So, I could make changes in the script, switch to the other window, fire the keyboard shortcut, and see if it worked. Then I'd just hit Undo to revert the sample input back. Lather, rinse, repeat. In the years since, Markdown has proven to be far more popular than I ever could have imagined, and I'm quite proud of it. The reason it turned out so well, I think, is that I crafted the syntax rules iteratively. It was like finding my way through a maze -- I went down many wrong paths, tried out numerous ideas that struck me as good until I actually tried using them. The fact that BBEdit's Unix filter feature makes it so easy to test something like my Markdown.pl script is the only reason I had the patience to keep iterating, waiting until it felt great instead of merely just good.
Which feature is your favorite? It's hard to pick one, but I'll say Unix shell filters. It's only of historical interest now, but I still fondly recall that this feature came to BBEdit long before Mac OS X was a twinkle in Apple's eye. The classic Mac OS wasn't Unix-based, but there was an odd but lovable Mac port of Perl called MacPerl, and, of course, it worked swimmingly with BBEdit. Thus I was doing Unix-like text automation and manipulation long before the Mac actually was based on a Unix-like OS.