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Zorex Salvo
Zorex Salvo

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My Journey to the Vast World of Text Editors

Let’s start with the text editors that I used since the beginning of my programming journey.

The very first language that I learned is C, that was on my first year of college. I don’t remember the name of the editor. It is like a command prompt with neon blue background, gray menu and status bars, and bright green font. I don’t think it is usable for languages other than C though.

On the second year of college, we had Cobol, Java, and C# on our curriculum. On Cobol we used Notepad. On Java we used Notepad++ because plain Notepad is really lacking a lot of features like undo, syntax highlighting, etc. Then MS Visual Studio came, a very powerful editor/IDE, very powerful to the point that it drives my laptop then (3GB ram + core 2 duo) to its limit every effin time, though that time I always thought that Visual Studio is a gift from heaven because of its full-packed functionality. Drag and drop, intellisense, graphical interfaces, compiler, debugging, and many other good development tools. I continued using it from second year through fourth year. I think it is worth it to sacrifice my laptop to that resource hungry editor/IDE for an easier development.

Internship. I was accepted in a startup company. Startup, usually no proprietary software because of the expensive licenses so Microsoft technologies are no-no for them. The very first thing we did was to install an Ubuntu based linux distro-Lubuntu...Linux means goodbye to my favorite, Visual Studio sobs.

During my internship, I used Sublime 2 which is good also, and lighter than Visual Studio. It took a while for me before I really adapted to this new text editor because of the missing fancy functionalities. But this text editor shift is beneficial to me and my laptop that time because my laptop is already declining (serving me for almost 7 years) and not using intellisense made me improved in programming.


Being a professional. For a while, I continued using Sublime but Visual Studio Code came and now open-sourced, so I quickly shift from Sublime to VSCode and I never came back from using sublime again. Visual Studio showcased promising features again, like integrated terminal, git support, plugins.


I’m happily using VSCode until I developed a strain in my mouse hand. I searched for alternatives to minimize me holding the mouse then I discovered Vim. Pre-Vim I am not practicing correct typing which contributed to my straining hand, but learning Vim I had to practice home keys because the navigations, commands, etc rely only on the keyboard only. H, j, k, l for up, down, left, right, i for insert, v for visual. Those commands are really hard to press if you don’t know how to place your fingers correctly on the keyboard. What I liked in Vim is it is very lightweight, it runs on terminal and it is highly configurable. You can configure it to work like any other text editor because there’s lots of open-sourced plugins out there. Here’s my minimal vim configuration: vimrc.

Despite the steep learning curve of Vim, I’m not planning to venture out of this text editor yet. Maybe I need to stop by here for a long while. Cause this text editor and its plugins itself is a whole ‘nother journey.

Top comments (18)

sanguine8082 profile image
Aaron Pfalzgraf

I've been using VSCode with the Vim plugin.

Slowly but surely with my handy-dandy Vim Command cheat sheet and Stackoverflow, I'm beginning to see the light.

I personally love VSCode, the extensibility (is that a word?) provided by plugins, open source, and the community support. I just discovered the Code Spellchecker and AsciiDoc extensions, which are helping me greatly with my technical writing.

perrydbucs profile image
Perry Donham

I understand the appeal of Sublime as a text editor. In the courses I teach, though, I watch students struggle when it comes time to debug their apps in Sublime (mainly MEAN stack, some Ruby/Rails, some Python/Flask). I recommend the JetBrains family of IDEs (which are free for students) but there's usually a handful who for some reason prefer a text editor.

Integrated development environments are named that for a reason...the integration takes care of most the effort involved in building and debugging apps.

maxart2501 profile image
Massimo Artizzu

If the description says correctly, you're 21 and you've already developed some issues with your wrist.

The fact that you're now using Vim will undoubtedly help you out, but what you'll really need is to fix that problem on your hand.

Good luck!

610yesnolovely profile image
Harvey Thompson

Which ever editor you chose here are a couple of things that it should have:

  • HOKNOM - Hands On Keyboard Never On Mouse (I just made this up)
    ** Cursor, scrolling movement should be keyboard controlled.
    ** Cursor arrow keys are not as great because you have to move your hands.
    ** Vi solves this by changing mode between edit and movement.
    ** Emacs "solves" this by using Ctrl as a temporary movement switch (though b, n, p, f not h, j, k, l)
    *** For emacs, remapping Caps Lock to Ctrl may help reduce pinky fatigue.

  • Edit multiple files in multiple windows on screen
    ** Switching windows should be keyboard based

  • Platform agnostic

  • Programming language agnostic

  • Programmable (hopefully inside the editor with a REPL)

  • Encoding agnostic (should be able to handle UTF-8, UTF-16, DOS or Unix even binary/hex edit)

  • Ability to run builds / make / etc.

  • Ability to run shell commands as one-offs

  • Ability to run shell (or other interactive programs) in editor

  • Syntax highlighting

  • Auto-identation

  • Bonus: Completion / Intellisense-like abilities

If at all possible, live with your editor choice FOREVER (I chose an editor 27 years ago - might be Vi, might be Emacs, not saying 'cos that's not the point here)

nsvoid profile image
(Null Static Void)

I was a huge Komodo fan for a long time, but the latest bugs and crashes have me jumping to Atom. Which is not as powerful as some IDEs out there. But is very easy on the eyes, integrates with git, and so far seems immune to whatever problems that Sierra caused for Komodo.

olsfer profile image
Oswaldo Ferreira • Edited

Don't want to confuse you, but is also something you should try. You get emacs which is a pretty decent "OS", bundled with "evil-mode" (which enables VIM commands on emacs) and everything else out of the box.

Have tried all the options you mentioned, sticked with spacemacs.

Take a quick look on to see the capabilities of this :)

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

If your internship was with a startup that wanted to avoid paying license fees, why did they give you Sublime, which costs $80? It seems an odd choice, given that if they wanted to make you feel at home in an IDE there were plenty of free options around at the time (like gedit for example)

kouvero profile image

Definitely check out e.g. the Vimium extension for Chrome, especially if you're having mouse hand issues.

luizcavalcanti profile image
Luiz Carlos Cavalcanti

Your first C editor was likely TurboC by Borland or something very similar.

zorexsalvo profile image
Zorex Salvo

Yeahh "Borland" rings a bell. Thank you Luiz :)

maestromac profile image
Mac Siri

Keep using Vim! It is so worth it to be proficient at it.

sanguine8082 profile image
Aaron Pfalzgraf

VSCode is also built on Electron, but I've noticed it is noticeably faster than Atom, but still slower than Sublime.

ramolec profile image
Marcelo Araujo


What theme are you using in elementary?

Nice article

zorexsalvo profile image
Zorex Salvo • Edited

Thanks! I'm using OSX-Arc-White and paper mono dark for the icons :)

xiaohuoni profile image


paveltrufi profile image
Pavel Razgovorov

Jetbrains for the win. There's no IDE that makes me more productive than IDEA/WebStorm/PhpStorm 😀

vgrovestine profile image
Vincent Grovestine

Wrt wrist strain from mouse use, try a trackball instead. Logitech M570 (thumb ball) and Trackman Marble did wonders for my own repetitive stress pain.