My text editor: Sublime Text

What text editor you use when coding is a very serious subject. I’ll hardly be able to talk about what I prefer, without some people (other than you, of course ;) taking it as me trying to steal their editor from them. I’m not going to. I’m just going to tell you what I think, and you can just decide of you agree or not. My hope is that it helps you be more certain about your own choice of editor.

What I look for in a text editor:

  1. Support both Mac and PC. I use a Mac for work, and a PC at home, and I want to be able to use the editor skills I’ve learned at work for my hobby projects, and vice versa.
  2. Less than 3 seconds starting time. Big projects means lots of little files to open. So while programming I will open files and close files all the time. Each delay waiting for the editor to open, or a file to load, means hundreds of seconds over time.
  3. Syntax highlighting for web languages. I work with web stuff, both front end and back end, and I need colors to be able to scan files quickly. I don’t really care about the exact ones, light or dark, I just want it to look decent. What “web languages”? HTML, CSS, Javascript, JSON, Python (Django), Ruby (Rails), PHP, SQL.
  4. Handle big files (< 1 Gb). From time to time I work with big files. Can be database dumps or large text files. I’m not expecting < 3 sec to open them, but at least < 15 sec, and then be able to work with the file without the editor lagging.
  5. Some kind of file browsing/project support. There’s never just one file and there’s needs to be a way to overview all the files in a certain directory structure, and pick from them. I’d like there both to be file searching support and a way to click to a file through the directory structure.
  6. Code auto-completion for web languages. Do I use font-variant, font-style, or font-decoration to set italic? I want my editor to show me a list of options, and let me pick. This is harder to do well for the dynamic server-side languages, but I still want it.
  7. Look good. I don’t want something that looks like the terminal, and want something beautiful. For me this means gradients, nice rounded tabs to click on, a nice font, a color scheme that matches.

With that list of priorities in mind, let’s look at a couple of popular editors:

  • Editors that are not available both for Mac and PC: Textmate, Coda, Notepad++, and Visual Studio.
  • Editors that are slow: XCode, Eclipse, NetBeans, Dreamweaver, and most other editors built with Java.
  • Editors that don’t handle syntax highlighting and code completion: Notepad, Wordpad.
  • Editors that don’t handle big files well: Komodo Edit (what I used til recently).
  • Editors that look like shit: Emacs, Vim.

And then there’s Sublime Text. Which does all of the above, perfectly. You should try it.


12 responses to “My text editor: Sublime Text

  1. I used to use notepad++ but once I tried sublime I won’t be going back. It is hands down the best. Super fast, tons of easy and awesome plugins (sublimeLinter!), it has increased my productivity tenfold.

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  3. I’m using NetBeans, it has a lot of cool features like ftp, ,sftp,svn,git,mercurial syncronization. :) CRT+SPACE that suggest you command syntax, a lot of debugging tool and tons of features, and it’s open source :)

  4. Editors is definitely a touchy subject sometimes. But it’s actually really a personal choice and your mileage can vary a lot.

    My own list of requirements is very much alike yours. But I would add:

    – Extensibility. I want to be able to modify just about any aspect of it, so that I know it can change along with my changing requirements over the years.

    – Free software. I like the idea of open source a lot and will pick it over its proprietary counterpart any day of the week.

    – Terminal based. For me I’ve found the most efficient way to develop software is to skip the mouse completely. So I want to run my editor in a terminal, with tmux. As a plus, I am then pretty much platform independent.

    So I am going with the “looks-like-shit-editors”; namely Vim. ;)

  5. @Tobias Sjösten: Well said! The three points you add are not at all important for me, but since Emacs and Vim are so popular you have lots of people agreeing with you :)

  6. Until recently i was using notepad++ i just found it nice and clean. Recently where i work just bought CS6 so i am using dreamweaver at work (as an IDE) its nice to be able to pull, push and get files from servers and view them quickly.

    Although sublime looks very nice.

  7. I still love notepad++. As they say – it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks! Maybe some day i will try sublime text, since you recommend it!
    If i can edit faster, maybe i can spend more time snowboarding!

  8. I’m using Dreamweaver at the moment – mainly for the synergy with the other adobe software it has. I’m considering looking into Sublime Text 2 over the Christmas break though.

  9. A little hidden fact with Sublime Text as well as with other editors like Notepad++ is that you are able to download the app for free but highly encouraged to purchase or donate should you like the product, even more if you are using it professionally. Just like Wikipedia, it is of great value but it cannot sustained on free beer :-)

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