In the market today there are many code editors out there. It’s difficult to find which one is best for what you need.
Over the past 20 years, I have used quite a few of them. I’ve evaluated and used to code in numerous different languages. The following are my top 3 pick of code editors.
All these editors have versions that are on both Windows and MacOS – so allow you to run on either or both during your software development lifecycle.
1. Sublime Text
My number 1 pick has to be Sublime Text.
Looking at the Wiki for Sublime Text, it reports that the initial release of Sublime Text was 18th January 2008 – so, at the time or writing this article, that’s just over 12 years that this product has been developed and released.
Over that time, Sublime Text has become a standard for editors today. The initial product is very lightweight and supports syntax highlighting for many of todays programming languages.
It also contains 23 different visual themes, with many more downloadable – meaning you can have it customised to how you like to use it.
It also has some fantastic options – such as being able to edit the same things on multiple lines at the same time. Think changing variable names.
One other powerful options I wanted to quickly mention Package Installer and Snippets..
Packages include items like new snippets for specific things, tools such as HTML Beautifier and so much more.
There are many other functions available in this product that you could go and research.
In regards to getting hold of Sublime Text. You can obtain this from the Sublime Text Website. There is a paid license for this product, however you can evaluate this product and use for no enforced time limit – below is the comment they have on their website in regards to this:
Sublime Text may be downloaded and evaluated for free, however a license must be purchased for continued use. There is currently no enforced time limit for the evaluation.
I would suggest if you do like using it then it maybe good to invest in a license. Purchasing the software will support the developer(s) of this fantastic editor product.
This is my all time favourite editor. It has all syntax highlighting for all the languages I have ever used with it. The powerful plugin tool allows me to add extra functionality. You can build your code directly in the editor using third party installed compilers. It’s lightweight.
It’s my favourite and in my opinion the best editor in my collection of editors.
2. NotePad ++
My second favourite free editor is Notepad++. The one downside of this editor is that it’s only available on the Windows Platform.
This is quite a negative as I would certainly install this on my MacBook if it were available.
On the positive sides though; this editor is a lightweight text and code editor which is free under the GPL license.
Like Sublime it has syntax highlighting for when you are coding which works very well. You can configure the editor to your own tastes; such as number of tab size and if to use space or not.
There are also a number of plugins for this editor to further expand its capability.
As this is free under the GPL License you can also get hold of the code for Notepadd++ which means, if you so desire you can contribute to this editor.
I find Notepad++ very useful as a text editor. I have found myself writing down steps of tasks when I am doing an install of a product or want to test an item. The great thing is, you can open a new tab, write some steps, close the editor without saving and on reopening the tab is still there along with all your text.
This has come in useful a number of times.
Although I don’t find this editor as lightweight or as customisable as Sublime – this has the benefit of being Free – even if only on the Windows platform.
3. Microsoft Code
So, this 3rd spot changed a number of times. It started with Eclipse. Atom came up. But I had to go with Microsoft Code.
Although this is quite new to the scene as compared with all the above mentioned. This editor is certainly proving its worth.
To begin with, it’s available on MacOS, Windows and Linux. Although there are a number of editors that cross over all 3; none with the pedigree of this Microsoft origin product.
Microsoft Code supports numerous languages, allowing you to create projects for each of these. Syntax Highlighting is included for each language it supports.
It includes Intellisense, which comes in great use when trying to remember commands and it autocompletes or autosuggests for you.
GIT commands are built in. It’s customisable and extendsible. It has deployment capability in it – you can deploy your project to Azure.
You can build and debug straight in the editor. It’s basically the MS Studio development environment – without the large price tags – plus all the benefits that comes with that premium product.
If you are looking for a development IDE – then Microsoft Code would be number 1.
If I am going to be doing any serious project development – so multiple files – then Microsoft Code is my goto. If I’m looking to do some quick code – then Sublime wins out.
Why not have all 3?
Although this article is about the top 3 editors – my machines include all 3 (well, only 2 on my MacBook).
Each have their own use for my toolbox of editors – which I alluded to in this article.
For long, big projects then I use MS Code. For small editors I use Sublime and for everything else it’s Notepadd++.
If I had to pick only 1, to do everything I would pick Sublime. However, the great thing is we don’t have to make that choice. We’re allowed to have all 3 and use all 3.
As a developer I say – use the best tool for the job and don’t worry about only choosing 1. It doesn’t work having just 1 tool. Take it from someone that started coding with vi and use that for a number of years.
Use all 3. Why not check out a few more such as Eclipse and Atom. More fantastic editors.