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A Parade of Text Editors

adamfriedl profile image Adam Friedl Updated on ・2 min read

I suspect that many folks attracted to programming share this trait, but long before I ever read a line of code, I was particular about my "tools." I'd spend hours trying different pens, or search all over town for a notebook with just the right size, binding, paper thickness and ruling (dot grid, anyone?). And occasionally I'd find a setup that really made me happy, although I could never shake the idea that there might be something out there just a little bit better.

When I got interested in coding a few years back, the only text editor I knew of was Text Wranger. That's what this guy at work used, and I thought he must be a genius coder (later I realized that he'd never learned CSS and laid out web pages with HTML tables). I started watching lots of web tutorials online, and it wasn't long before I saw someone open Sublime Text (he just called it "Sublime," because he was cool like that). And I soon found that Sublime Text was in fact pretty awesome. You could spend (waste(?)) days perusing all the different extensions and options.

As great as Sublime Text was, though, I always had my eye out for something better. When I finally got serious about coding and attended an immersive program, they recommended Atom, which was the new-ish kid on the block. I used it for most of a year and it has a lot to recommend it: it's free (which Sublime Text definitely wasn't), open-source, built by Github. What's not to like? Well, mainly that it's painfully slow to start up and hangs often... So when I saw one of my coding heroes using Visual Studio Code, you know what happened next.

VS Code is the best text editor I've come across. It's quick and flexible. It has a seamless integrated terminal and a robust ecosystem of extensions. As someone who currently writes mostly JavaScript, I find its version of tools like ESLint, Prettier, npm Intellisense, as well as snazzy visuals like VS Code Great Icons, to be easy to incorporate.

Is there still something better out there? Probably! Let me know what you think.

Discussion

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neilmartin profile image
NeilMartin

The best text editor for me is whatever IDE you can use for your target platform. The editor that has integrated debugging is the most convenient. For me that's been Visual Studio for years. Visual Studio has many issues. It's slow and cumbersome, often locking up for big projects. I wish I had other options to choose from, but I'm stuck with VS. So if your IDE has debugging capabilities, learn how to code in it. Debugging and text editing in the same familiar tool really speeds things up.

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Joshua Johnson

Editors is such a personal preference type of thing. Over the years I've gone back and forth and have tried every editor I could get my hands on. My advice to you, try every editor you can and pick the one you like.

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Daniel Warren

I've been bouncing back and forth between VS Code and Sublime for a while. With all the bells and whistles, I can end up wasting so much time trying to get all my tools in order. Lately I've been using both editors with just the bare bones with an open terminal. For me, if I rely too heavily on extensions I start forgetting syntax and it becomes like texting without autocorrect where I'm like, "Wait, how do I spell that word again? Do I need a comma here?"

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Adam Friedl Author

It's true. Not that we ever create tools that end up making us dumber (coughFacebookcough). But I suppose it's possible.

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Hugo Torzuoli

On my side, I used few different tools (JetBrains Softwares, Sublime Text, Atom, VSCode).
In 2018, best for my needs (Javascript mainly) is VSCode. I've been a big fan of Atom, so I set Atom Keybinding.

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M. Shemayev

For anything involved, I find myself turning to Jetbrains stuff again and again--I got hooked on PhpStorm and finally downloaded IntelliJ as well to start messing around on a Scala project.

(Full disclosure, I'm a student, and their educational package gives you all of their fully-fledged professional editions, of all the products, for free, sooooo...)

I used to be a diehard Atom fan, but the slowness was getting to me--especially when I can get PhpStorm with a full project going, off the same external hard drive, and it's faster than Atom. :/ For quick stuff that I don't need or want a real IDE for, like JavaScript out of habit, and just want a fast editor--I go for VSC, because it's so fast. But for anything involved or more than just a quick chunk, I end up opening up PhpStorm.

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Nick Taylor (he/him)

VS Code is pretty awesome, especially for web dev. If you're interested, here's My VS Code Setup.

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Adam Friedl Author

Thanks, Nick. Lots of good stuff to explore in there. And I'm all about the Fira Code font ligatureness!

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Meghan (she/her)

You're good! As of right now, I would definitely say that VS Code and Atom are the best.

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Navieclipse

My best is the VS Code with vim keybindings !!

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Maurice Hayward

interesting!

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nhkk profile image
NHKK

I've recently discovered "OniVim" I really like this text editor no extra BS. Has autocorrection, lets you use a mouse sort of.

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scarti profile image
scarti

I agree with the “works for you” test. But make sure you try vim. If it doesn’t work for you, a-ok. But if it does work for you, it would be awful not to use it!

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Adam Friedl Author

I have this idea that Vim is for the programmer who has reached some higher plane —like you don't even see the shapes in the Matrix anymore, just all the code behind it. 🙂

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Maurice Hayward

I prefer VS Code, but my current project uses SVN version control and WebStorm integrates better with that.

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Adam Friedl Author

That's interesting! I haven't used SVN before, but it looks generally like WebStorm is pretty powerful.

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Dell Ward

Been using VS code for a few weeks now and I love it! The extensions are way more manageable than in Sublime Text.

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Adam Friedl Author

Agreed! I think they make the whole experience really streamlined.