Working on It
Over the past two years, posts on this blog have slowed to just a trickle, and a number of TextMate users have asked about TextMate’s status, or publicly worried about its future. This blog post, the first I’ve written here in a long time, is an attempt to assuage those concerns and answer some of the most frequent questions.
In short, TextMate development is going strong: TextMate 2 isn’t done yet, but progress is steady, it is starting to take shape, and the end is in sight. The rewrite has been a slow and careful process, but the ideas behind it are exciting. I hope to publicly describe some new abstractions in the coming weeks and months. Moreover, the community continues to churn out new bundles and features for TextMate 1.5, and I’ve been building up a backlog of posts describing them. While I am not writing to announce a release date for TextMate 2, I do hope that this post will be the first in a series showing a bit more transparency.
The requests for TextMate 1 have mostly been incremental additions such as split views, chunked undo, and editing over SFTP. But TextMate 2 is about more than new surface features. Every part has been completely rewritten to take advantage of the lessons learned from the years of version 1. Not only are the low-level data structures chosen for increased flexibility, but the abstractions on which TextMate is built—snippets, scope-based language grammars, context-dependent settings—have been rethought and are more powerful than ever. In the coming months, I’ll try to describe some of these new abstractions, but for now, know that I am excited about the new ideas involved.
So where does development stand for 2.0? It feels to me like most of the modules are getting close, say 90%. But as they say, on the horizon, mountains look small. While I use 2.0 for my own work, day-to-day, and the basic infrastructure is pretty solid, much of the front-end still needs work, and for now it’s all lacking the spit and polish of a finished app. Hopefully an alpha version will be ready before too long, but I can’t make any promises about dates.
And why haven’t I been better about keeping the world informed? It is a combination of many things really, but the main issue is that I am not good at writing for a large audience. I am more into informal conversations, for instance over mailing lists or on IRC. So while I started a lot of posts, I end up unhappy with them halfway through, and they don’t get finished or published. I am taking measures: I have enlisted a technical writer to help bring this blog back to life, and I’ll try to communicate more of TextMate’s status and direction through him.
Bigger than either of those problems though, as I mentioned, is that TextMate 2 is no minor facelift. It’s a major undertaking with a long timeline and its final form isn’t fully settled. I don’t want to hype vaporware, and I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up before I know I can meet their expectations.
Furthermore, I haven’t wanted to throw ideas onto the internet without having a chance to implement them myself. I’m humbled that TextMate has served as inspiration for many other products, and I hope that it continues to be a model for other developers in the future, but I want to see my ideas done my way first, before I feed them to the competition.
I am trying to slowly turn this boat. With this post, I hopefully am showing that a hand is at the wheel. I know I’ve been quiet too long about my plans. I can’t make up for that, but going forward, I aim to do better.