You may be forgiven to think that nowadays developers no longer need text editors, now that there are fantastic IDE’s on the market (IDE = Integrated Development Environment). But if you do any kind of web development, you’re probably using some kind of text editor, in combination with the IDE of your choice or perhaps even instead of an IDE. I know I prefer a tool that doesn’t try to be everything at once.
Choosing a text editor is not so simple, however. No matter what OS you’re on, Windows or OS X or Linux or even Android or iOS, you’ll have a rich palette of tools to choose from – and choosing is always hard. That’s why you will find dozens of web pages extolling the virtues of “the ten best text editors” on your favourite OS! I have mentioned a few OS X editors 9 months ago, but in the meantime I have also installed and worked with KomodoEdit.
I have been trying out a whole series of text editors on Windows as well. Choosing is hard, not only because currently any tool I pick also has to be compatible with Windows XP (I know, don’t say it). At work, I need even more features in an editor: I want macros or programmability, search and replace with regular expressions, syntax highlighting for all my favourite languages, extensibility, and more. Plus a tool I’ll be using a lot has to be friendly to this user: it should please me visually, and I want my most frequent commands to be easily executed from the keyboard. You can see why I do not yet have made my choice…
Besides that: sometimes I need just a bit more from my text editor. I do not have a C-compiler at hand to create my own plugins, so I went looking for an alternative text editor. Like I said, the list of possible candidates is long, but in the end I decided to try out KomodoEdit and Editra. Not because they’re the absolute best, but because they work on XP and are installable without admin rights… Their programmability far exceeds Notepad++, and that has already paid off (I’m also learning a bit of Python this way, just on the side). I can use them on Windows – but there are versions for the Mac and Linux as well, which is handy if you dabble on all three platforms like me. But for the moment both of them stay as an assistant to Notepad++, and neither is going to become my main editor soon.
If you’re looking for a text editor, be prepared to spend a serious amount of time on your search – and make sure that you know what you need and what you don’t need.
PS. I think I have found a small but annoying bug in Notepad++. I had this little macro that included a “goto the end of the line” instruction. When repeated until the end of the file, however, the macro failed to do its intended work if and when the editor was in “word wrap” mode. I’m not sure it’s the same problem as described in bug report “#4526 Macro scrambles on EOL with word wrap“, but it seems to be related… Anyway, it’s a bug that easily avoided, so this won’t make me throw Notepad++ out the window ;-)
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