TextSoap started out as a text “cleaning” app many, many moons ago. The tings you can do with it are still called “cleaning”, but perhaps we should really call this app a text manipulation app. Calling version 9.x a text cleaner is like calling iZotope’s RX9 Advanced an audio repair utility. Both have gone way beyond the functionality of their initial release.
It’s incredible that Unmarked software still is a one-man show. Its TextSoap 9.1 app I’m reviewing here is a godsend for everybody who even only occasionally needs to edit text in more than place. Whereas the previous versions I reviewed — I skipped versions 7 and 8 — were very useful if you understood Regular Expressions well and were a heavy user of text editors, or you were coding HTML, CSS or programming code.
Most people rarely needed to “fix” regular text in one text file or across files, simply because we weren’t yet into daily journals or zettelkasten note taking. Nowadays, with an explosion of data creation in the form of notes, daily notes, blog entries, etc., though, TextSoap can make a huge difference if you’re on the writing end.
Let me give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, I was going through a 120-notes Bear app collection that lives under a single tag. In every note I have a code at the end of the text that starts with a UID that I automatically generate with Typinator, a simplified name in the form of “‘Hex’, hyphen, digit” and a date string. The ‘Hex’, hyphen, digit thing was not obvious enough in the sea of text of each note and I wanted to change it to a bolded “’H’ dot digit”.
What I had to do first was to export all those notes individually as Markdown files. Then I would have to go into each note and change that specific part of my code. I really didn’t fancy doing that, so I opened TextSoap 9.1 and created a “text cleaner” which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, was not a cleaner at all, but a manipulator!
TextSoap 9.1 has a completely new and much more efficient interface than the previous versions. It comes with over 100 “cleaners” already installed, but, more importantly to my case, it also comes with a re-designed cleaner creation tool. The whole thing still looks very familiar if you’ve ever used it before, but it’s more modern and better organised. For example, it used to have a text editing panel that was very basic while now it’s a full-blown text editing environment
The cleaner editor has separate Actions and Cleaner lists, all of which are now colour-coded so you can find way around much quicker than before. Regular expressions are hard to create, so TextSoap now has a built-in redirection link to a fully featured Regex building web page where you can actually see what you are doing.
Another powerful addition is that you don’t need to create individual Find/Replace actions for each piece of data anymore. You can now create a template action and connect it to a list of data. The action is then applied with each row of the data. It works by association. For example, if you want to convert company names into a link, then you can create a table of associations in TextSoap and have the associated link added to each occurrence of each company name in one fell swoop.
This feature is called lists and it currently works with three actions: Find and Replace Text, Create Hyperlink URLs, If Matches Text.
TextSoap can be applied to a single text or to a batch of text files. Best of all, TextSoap comes with a free downloadable Agent that adds itself to your system services upon installation. It allows you to use TextSoap’s cleaners with any text-based app directly inside that app.
As for my use case scenario, TextSoap was a life saver. Not only was I able to write my Regular Expression with confidence and in minutes, rather than hours, it also took little time to rewrite my 120 files the way I wanted. All that was needed for me to do was to re-import those files in Bear, where the notes live in peace.
TextSoap 9.1 is M1 compatible and retails for 45 USD. You can download a fully functional 30-days demo from the website.