Review: TextSoap 7

TextSoap has been the text cleaner of choice for many years. If you needed to quickly convert HTML into plain text or strip quotes from random sentences, TextSoap was the only application that was really up to the job. This application has now been upgraded to version 7, and it’s an upgrade more than worth the price.

Except for the modern interface, there is a lot of new stuff in TextSoap 7 that users will like. The first new feature to like is TextSoap Universal, which makes the application available from the menu bar in almost every application on your Mac. This works great, even in Microsoft Word 2011.

TextSoap 7's simple interface.

TextSoap 7 also features a new Regular Expression Lab that should simplify creating and testing regular expressions. I tried this one out, because regular expressions (grep — I first got to know these the first time I reviewed BBEdit) are complex to create. The help you get from TextSoap 7 is that it shows you what exactly in your target text your expression is finding or selecting. It still assumes you look up and “assemble” the components of the grep expression, but it helps enormously because you can actually see what you’re doing. This by itself to me justifies the upgrade price, and indeed the full price of the product, as it potentially saves so much time.

But TextSoap 7 doesn’t stop at this one new feature. In a tradition of delivering true value for money, its developer has also included new conditional actions in custom cleaners so you can target exact snippets of text. I tried this and it works like a charm. I was able to set up a filter that would only attack the word “New” when the word appeared at the beginning of a sentence. The “N” would be replaced with “NN” only if the “N” appeared at the beginning of the word. The way you create new cleaners is very much like what you do in Apple Automator when you design a workflow. A very simple, very efficient interface, in other words.

Speaking of Automator, TextSoap 7 now also has a new Batch Cleaning feature that doesn’t need Automator at all.

With TextSoap 7 you can apply cleaners to non-contiguous selected text. I tried this inside the application itself: I selected a number of words throughout a text, using the Command key and then converted these words to uppercase. This is one of those features that makes TextSoap the text cleaning — or shall we say text manipulation — programs of choice.

What else is new in TextSoap 7? The regular expression engine has been designed for Unicode (ICU). There is improved international text support in smart quoting and date handling. TextSoap 7 is a 64-bit application. Also new is a search history that remembers the last 25 searches, and it works with interactive finds as well as custom cleaner actions.

Of course TextSoap 7 also comes with new cleaners added to the library, for a total of well over 100 cleaners you can use out of the box. New are cleaners for removing duplicate lines without first sorting, converting HTML to RFT, randomize lines, and normalize dates to the system’s short format, to the system’s medium format, and its long, and full format.

A large number of improvements like resizable action windows round up the new version. TextSoap 7 will save a lot of people a lot of time and make text manipulations possible that would be very hard to do with BBEdit or other editors. It costs approx. 27.5 Euros; for a limited time you can get a full version at 20.00 Euros. The upgrade price has been set to 14.00 Euros. It’s worth more, in my opinion. You can download a demo version that will clean a limited number of words.

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