Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Dear TextMate

tech & software 3 min read

Dear TextMate,

I wanted to write you this letter after we bumped into each other on the street yesterday. I guess it’s long overdue.

I’m glad you’re doing well, and that you’re going to be at 2.0 soon. I know you always wanted that. You look good, and I’m happy for you.

We didn’t have much time to talk earlier, but like I said I’m doing great. Things are really good. I’m editing with BBEdit now. It’s been almost six years. We’re very happy.

I think I need to talk a bit about what happened, though I guess only you really know.

It hurt me when you just sort of disappeared.

I know the relationship wasn’t really moving forward. BBEdit and I have been through two whole new versions (and lots of point-releases) since… well, you know. Since you just kind of went away. You and I only ever managed a point-five.

I still remember the early days - they were amazing. The bundles, new stuff every week, the syntax highlighting (oh man, the syntax highlighting). Yeah. Those were good times. It wasn’t just me, right?

I was talking to my friends last night; I told them I saw you. They send their best. For what it’s worth, even BBEdit says hi. Not everything they said was positive, of course - but that’s normal. After all, they’re my friends. I actually caught myself defending you and talking you up at one point.

“TextMate looks really good,” I said. “Multiple carets, themes… and even that drawer thing is long gone!” I think I even said that our talk had been just like old times. That was stupid of me, and they told me that. Because they’re my friends.

They also told me the one thing I was ignoring: you dumped me, and it took me a long time to get over it.

I know it wasn’t totally your fault. Mainly you just promised a lot. Too much, in fact. I don’t know what that was about. I’d have been happy to wait for the features. I didn’t have a deadline.

And the money thing. Ugh. That really messed us up. You always insisted on paying, even though I was happy to. I could have supported you; I was glad to help with that. Maybe you could have got to 2.0 sooner. But you didn’t give me the chance. It just all felt a bit one-sided.

I think that in the end you felt trapped by your own promises, and it was easier for you to leave. I get that now. I really do.

I didn’t give up at first, you know. I kept “our” - your - bundles. For a while. Eventually I deleted them. I felt guilty about that. Later, I felt angry at myself for feeling guilty. Much later, I was able to laugh about it.

I think I actually might still have one of your release notes files around here somewhere. It’s not really “yours” anymore, though; it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s just a markdown file.

You mentioned maybe getting together for coffee. I lay awake for a while last night thinking about it, and honestly I don’t think it’s a good idea.

I’m not sure what you’re offering, but I don’t think I can even judge it rationally. I already made all your excuses for you long ago. I can’t even see you for who you are today.

You’re just the editor that went away, and I’ve moved on.

Best wishes,

P.S. I can’t believe I actually had to check which letters to capitalise in your name. I used to know it off by heart. I guess that’s a good thing though. All the best.


I have the alpha of TextMate 2, and I’ll naturally be giving it a fair shot. I’m interested to see what’s new since I last fell in love with it five years ago.

I thought that the “letter to an ex” format (inspired by my own tweet last night) would be an interesting way to explore what for me, and many of you, are genuine abandonment issues. Yes, there were small point-point-updates throughout, but I cut and ran after a year of feeling that it was strictly in maintenance mode.

Since then, several years have passed, and it’ll be tricky for lapsed users to re-commit without always keeping one foot out the door. I genuinely think the analogy is valid - and, more importantly, amusing.