Miscellaneous Ramblings

Fraise Text Editor Steps into Smultron's Shoes

Charles Moore - 2010.08.10 - Tip Jar

Rating: 3.5 out of 4

When I switched to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard for production work in March 2009, I had to find a compatible replacement for the NotePad Deluxe (NPD) mini database application I'd used for years as a dumping ground and archive for research information, works in progress, and other odds and sods.

I eventually settled on Smultron,* an open-source text editor that, while it isn't a real database app like NPD, does support switching among open documents from a list, in an iTunes-like left column pane - and it works nicely with its interface shrunk down to mini proportions to fit on my MacBook's screen along with a browser. I've been quite satisfied with Smultron for this sort of tasking, but several months ago Smultron's developer Peter Borg announced that he no longer had the time to devote to continued Smultron development, although he did manage to put out an OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility patch.

Enter Fraise

It seemed that Smultron was on the bubble, and now along comes Fraise from French developer Jean-François Moy. Fraise is an almost indistinguishable doppelgänger for Smultron. This is not a ripoff. Smultron code is open source, and it's really a frank homage. Even the name (fraise is French for strawberry) is a tribute to Smultron's wild strawberry application icon. However, unlike Smultron, Fraise (currently at version 3.7.3) requires Mac OS X 10.6.

Smultron user interface The Fraise user interface
Smultron's UI (left) pays homage to iTunes - and Fraise's interface (right) is almost identical.

Like Smultron, Fraise displays all open documents in a list with Quick Look icons so you can easily switch among many documents, or you can also choose to display documents as tabs if you prefer .

Features include Snippets and Commands to quickly access functionalities and text you use often, a fully customizable syntax coloration system, and find-and-replace text.

Fraise
Fraise can color code text content for programmers.

Fraise colors text content in different colors depending on what the code does. And you also have many ways to search for words along with line numbers to help finding the code you are looking for. You can also split the window in two to display two parts of the same document or to compare two different documents side by side.

Fraise can use regular expressions and run commands and scripts. You can preview HTML files directly in Fraise and save snippets of text to insert using shortcuts. Fraise also supports a full-screen mode, although that's pretty much the opposite of how I keep it configured most of the time.

I've been using Fraise in place of Smultron when running in Snow Leopard for the past few weeks, and thus far it's proved to be a entirely satisfactory replacement, with continued development expected as Mac OS X progresses.

Alternatives

If your needs require a text cruncher hybrid with a real light database function, other excellent alternatives are Tropical Software's $39.95 TopXNotes and Devon Technologies' $24.95 DEVONnote.

TopXNotes supports OS X 10.4 and up, while DEVONnote requires 10.5 or later. In terms of a true database, FileMaker's user-friendly consumer database application Bento is a polished and powerful application.

* See Smultron: A Fast, Free Text Editor That's Great for Organizing Information for Moore's perspective after 3 months with Smultron, as well as Hasta La Vista, Smultron, which shares his feelings when Smultron development was ended.

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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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