Why Text Editors & FTP Clients?

Anyone who’s been using a Mac for a few months has probably noticed that there is a glut of text editors available for the OS X platform. If you’re in the web/design category, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the similar situation of too many FTP client options. What gives?

I’ll take the latter issue first. The funny thing is, 4 years (or so) ago when I got back on the Mac side of things, finding a decent FTP client was next to impossible. Interarchy, Fetch, RBrowser and Cyberduck seemed to be the viable solutions. Then Transmit (from Panic) came out and the show was over (as far as I’m concerned). But in recent months – maybe the last year – it’s crazy how many FTP options are available to us. Yummy FTP, Captain FTP, and Forklift come immediately to mind. (There are plenty more though…)

Having options is great and all, but how many do we need? Is one really that much better than the other? The core functionality is all essentially the same, so I guess pick the best UI and plunk down your card to make a purchase.

Worse yet is the Text Editor scene. My favorite couple are TextMate (de facto winner in this space?) and SubEthaEdit – I tell you because I can see you care. But then there’s an endless line of other options here – xPad, TextEdit, TextWrangler, Mori, Jedit, Smultron, to name a few. The list goes on… I understand where apps such as WriteRoom offer something slightly different. But geez, it’s still just a text editor that’s aimed at the more easily distracted – hey look, squirrels!!!

But what is it about FTP apps and Text Editors that seemingly attract developers – the experienced and green alike? Every developer’s gotta practice on some project, and [guru] Scott Stevenson has a great tutorial on CocoaDevCentral for creating your own Text Editor (the tutorials here are hands-down, some of the best you’ll find on the web). So I get that – it’s an easy jumping-off point where you can get your feet wet and work your way up. But what drives every developer and their mother to try to sell their code as if it were so earth shatteringly different from the next 5, 10, 15 competing apps?

My intent is not to blast these developers – heaven knows I’m no application coder! I’m just trying to wrap my brain around the reasoning behind everyone trying to sell more or less the same program. (I understand that everyone wants to make a buck, but still!) I invite any coders – especially of Text Editors or FTP Clients – to either sound off in the comment here, or better yet, contact me directly (nick[dot]appleblog[at]gmail[dot]com) and lets get a conversation going on this topic.