Talking to a brick wall...

Rants & Raves

Rants & Raves

Editing Text

The Sublime Text Editor

—[21-9-11] So as a developer, I spend a lot of time working with more or less raw text. Not text documents like you'd have in Word, (though there's plenty of that in my life too,) but instead documents that are composed just of the standard letters, numbers, and symbols you can type with a keyboard and nothing else. These can be source code to a program, HTML code, the README to something, or just some thoughts I put down. Whatever they are, I've gone through a variety of methods of viewing and working with them over the years.

At first, options were pretty limited, and I worked with what was available: edit from MS-DOS, Notepad in Windows, TextEdit on our Mac, though that one had hints of word processing tacked on. Then, of course, for programming I would use none of these--most coding happened in an IDE or something resembling one that had features specific to the language it was designed for, and that was that.

Over time, though, I eventually found myself wishing for or needing editors to use when working with files that were more than just text, but not something you'd use an IDE or specialized editor for. Also, I ran into some languages and environments in which you'd just compile on the command line, or just have files that you would upload via FTP to a website. Around this time, I found out about BBEdit and constantly wished I had an excuse to buy it. But, I also discovered some others and used them as appropriate.

Eventually, I reached a sort of holding pattern where I would occasionally oscillate back and forth between jEdit, PSPad, nano on linux, and some other "notepad replacement" programs that had decent syntax highlighting features. There was a cute little one I can't remember that I used to write some assembly code for a Commodore 64 I inherited before typing the hexadecimal code in manually on the poor thing. These are all pretty good editors. However, I always wished there was something better than "pretty good". A couple of years ago, I was forced into that something better, though it took me a while to realize it: it was vim.

(I know there are vim and EMACS wars still raging, and if I care enough to write about that, it's a different article.)

Vim was terribly confusing at first, but after using it enough, I realized that it could make me so much more efficient than any other editor I ever used. Nevertheless, it had some drawbacks: terminal emulation issues sometimes meant that dedicated navigation keys that I'm used to (PgUp, PgDn, Home, End, etc) wouldn't work, I seldom used it in an environment where it knew about my mouse (which I avoid if possible but evidently do use sometimes when navigating large text files,) and I never quite used it enough to memorize all of the most useful commands.

I still think vim is potentially the best editor I'll ever use and that I'll someday use it to convince my children that I have a direct wireless interface between my brain and my computer, or else how could I type so fast, assuming such an interface doesn't already exist as a standard thing by then, but for now, vim is smarter than I am. So, I still use PSPad on windows and other more dedicated tools such as IDEs where possible.

Recently, however, I was looking for a good and slightly more integrated website editor. I used to use something called HomeSite for this, but Macromedia bought it, got absorbed by Adobe, and I'm just not that interested anymore. So, in my search, I did NOT find the website editor of my dreams (though I did find a nice FTP program from CoffeeCup), but to my surprise I DID find several neat editors I hadn't seen before. One of them, I think, might just be the best general-purpose editor other than vim/emacs that I've ever seen. It might, in fact, be even better!

So, after separating what seemed to be wheat from what seemed to be chaff from a StackExchange post, (God bless you, Joel Spolsky) I was left with the below:

So there you have it--some interesting editors and some quick thoughts on them. I would encourage anyone to try Sublime and maybe Farawla, and some people to play with Redcar.

I think I had some other thoughts on this topic, but now it got late and I don't, so that's my rant. Happy writing, everybody!


Think & Chew

Care about text editors? Did I miss something? I don't have a forum these days, but if you let me know somehow, I'll be happy to come back in and update the article! Or, you know, just talk. It's all good.


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