Text Editor Comparisation

Editors are the most important tool for software developers. A great editor can speed up the development of your project and make life easier in many aspects. There are many editors out there – some with the minimalism of vi or nano, other are graphical editors like Textedit, Notepad(++) and so on. The difference between an editor and a word processor like Microsoft Word/LibreOffice Writer is simple: Plain text editors just store the text as-is, without any formatting. Word processors may store the contents in binary format to preserve formatting. That way, word processors are not suitable to write code and configuration files.

Editors nowadays offer much more features than just text manipulation: Syntax highlighting, intelligent search/replace functionality, version control integration and many more. Below is a list of editors I think that are worth to be mentioned.

1. Sublime Text 2 & 3

Released in 2011, became one of the most popular editors out there. Sublime Text is by far the fastest editor out there, starts in no time and offers a lot of themes and extensions. It’s written in C++ with a Python backend. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. A license can be obtained for $70. License: Commercial.

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2. TextMate 2

The user interface seems to be inspired by Sublime Text 2/3. It’s written in Objective-C and available for Mac only. Still in beta (as of Feb 2015) and free of charge. Allows extension using Bundles. TextMate 2 is open source. Free.

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3. Atom

Atom is a editor from GitHub, written in HTML, LESS and JavaScript. It runs on Chrome’s rendering engine and renders the UI using web technologies. While it takes a few moments to start up, it runs very quick when launched. It can be extended using themes and plugins. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Atom is licensed under a MIT-style license. Free.

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All of the editors above offer a great look and feel and a wide range of features, even if they’re just text editors. While I usually spend most time using a full-blown IDE, these editors can be a great alternative, especially when it comes to speed and efficiency. Atom is currently one of my favourites, because it uses web technologies on the desktop which I think is a great step towards the future of apps on the desktop. The reason is simple: Since it’s not written in a compiled language, it’s possible to run it on any system that offers a interpreter for the code. That way, Atom may work natively on FreeBSD while Sublime Text may only work with Linux emulation there.

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