Miscellaneous Ramblings

Hasta La Vista, Smultron

Charles Moore - 2009.08.06 - Tip Jar

Last month I wrote here about my quest to find a satisfactory Intel-native replacement for NotePad Deluxe (NPD), the little mini-database/notepad application I'd used for a decade or so as a convenient parking place and general holding pen for storing and organizing research data I need for work-in-progress articles and news stories.

NotePad Deluxe fit the bill nicely with its compact interface (important when you work on laptop displays) and quick, organized access to stored material with its two-window interface's column list of titles (a la the iTunes interface). Sadly, NotePad Deluxe is no longer being developed, and moving to my Intel MacBook broke the application, obliging me to find a substitute.

Happily, I found Peter Borg's little Open Source text editor Smultron, which shared enough attributes with NotePad Deluxe to be a pretty adequate replacement. The only real niggles with it are that it stores documents as discrete files rather than in a database (like NotePad Deluxe) and that for some reason it doesn't work with WindowShade X, collapsing to the Dock (a behavior I detest) rather than windowshading when you double-click the title bar.

Smultron is quick and doesn't hog a lot of system resources, which helps make it easy to like. I find its search engine less flexible and useful than NPD's, but for the most part, it's a great little application with some strong points and virtues of its own that NPD didn't have.

Alas, Peter Borg has discontinued development of Smultron, posting a notice on his site this week reading:


First of all I'd like to thank you for your interest in my applications. But I have now come to a point where I don't have the time to spend on the applications that they deserve so I have decided to not release any more versions for the foreseeable future.

Peter Borg

There is a link provided to download the last-released version of Smultron (3.5.1), and it works fine with Leopard 10.5.6 (and hopefully 10.5.8, which I have yet to install), but Snow Leopard compatibility is a question mark, and the likelihood is that unless Peter resumes or someone else takes over development, the program will break with some future Mac OS upgrade.

There are plenty of excellent little apps still available, but none I've discovered so far that offers the key attribute of a compact document/database index window with its interface that shrinks down gracefully to a size that's not obtrusive on my 13.3" MacBook's display. Bare Bones Software's freeware TextWrangler seems the most likely candidate so far, but its slide-out document drawer is a bit large and doesn't scale down as much as I would like.

I would also miss Smultron's syntax highlighting and HTML tag completion and split-window format option features, although TextWrangler does have a raft of advanced and powerful text editing features as well as arguably the best find & replace engine in the category, so would have its advantages.

Ideally, someone will pick up development of Smultron if Peter Borg is agreeable to that. I'm okay for the present, but the quest resumes.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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