When we were learning to write, we were fascinated by the idea of having beautiful notebooks to write on. With time we grew up, and that feeling gradually left our head. But the underlying idea is always there somewhere. It may not pop up every now and then, but it is omnipresent. As a web developer, when I first forayed into this profession, I had that notebook feeling again. I felt child-like.
This time it was instead for using a text editor. The idea of using new text editors fascinated the coder in me. I tried a few options, and then I realized that it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. Yes the features may vary slightly and there can be something called ‘Premium Features’, but ultimately everything depends on how well I code. A good text editor can only help me by making my life a bit easier, but the main job is mine.
You can try and look for ‘Best Text Editors for Coding,’ and your favorite Search Engine will give you a handful of options. But do they really suit your need? Will you be able to optimize your performance using any one of those? To answer these questions, you need to first delve deeper into the word ‘Text Editor.’ So in this article, we will tell you what exactly a text editor is and some of its quintessential features along with a brief knowledge about the most popular ones available in the market for you.
What is a Text Editor?
For the layman, Text Editor means a Notepad kind of software that can be used to write plain texts and also edit the same as and when required. For a web developer, a Text Editor is primarily software that they can use to write and manage text, more specifically to write a code. You can use various languages like HTML, Python, CSS, etc. to build your text.
Quintessential Features of Text Editors
Every software has two sides to it, some good and some bad. No two software generally share the same features. So instead of talking about the best software available for coding, let us first talk about the features that you must look for while selecting the default text editor for yourself.
1) The first basic feature of any text editor is speed. If the software you are using is hampering your speed, you are ought to look for alternatives. Speed can vary due to many reasons, be it the underlying mechanism or the size, but it doesn’t matter.
2) The next important criterion is Extension Support. I have had a great experience with editors like Sublime Text and Atom in this regard. With time, most software have started including a host of extension support, but if the language that you have chosen to code is less-recognized, make sure you get the text editor that has good extension support.
3) The next point to consider is the domain support. Every coder can get into some problems or the other, but those can be common ones or domain-related. What if the specific editor you chose is not able to handle the domain properly? This problem can be solved to an extent if the text editor is friendly to the domain you choose to excel in.
4) This is one of the most important aspects to consider, the Learning Curve Timespan. For example, you may find NeoVim easier to handle if you are coming from Vim, but the same cannot be said if you are coming from VS Code. This is because NeoVim and Vim share a similar interface. So try to choose one which will have a shorter Learning Curve Timespan.
5) The last consideration is ergonomics. If something is not ergonomic, it will not ease your task in any manner. It will rather be more difficult for you to execute tasks on such a software. You can perform better if the software feels good to use.
Best Text Editor
Once you have understood the points that determine how good a text editor is, let us talk about a bit about the best text editors available in the market –
The Default Text Editor
It may come as a surprise to you but our devices have pre-installed text editors which vary according to the OS you are on. For instance, it is called ‘Notepad’ on Windows and ‘TextEdit’ on Mac. If you are on Linux, you can also have a piece of the cake. The text editors don’t come with a fixed name and we suggest you to go through the list of applications on your system to determine which text editor your system has in sleeves for you.
Most system applications, text editors which are a part of default package are bare bones and are just enough to satisfy the basic needs. You need third-party applications to get hold of many extra features that may make your life a lot easier.
Atom has been developed on GitHub, which is an online community of developers. It is a free software that is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is known to be highly customizable and you get all the important features like extensions, themes, creating new branches, push and pull and many other notable features. For a free software to have such good developer support and a host of features is a boon in disguise.
Sublime Text is a text editor that comes in two variations – Free and Premium. It has Python API interface and you get support for various programming languages as well as markup languages. In addition to that, you can install Plugins to further access additional features. It is very popular for its fast performance and people love the ‘Multi-Caret Editing’ feature which enables them to insert the same text at various places at the same time.
A free and open-source software, Vim has been designed in such a way that it can be used both as a standalone application in a GUI or as a common-line interface. It was first released in the year 1991 and is relevant even today due to strong developer support and constant upgrades. Though it is quite wholesome by default, you can further choose Plugins to access additional features and make full use of its potential.
This is one of the most popular text editors for beginners. This is a windows-exclusive software that is free and has its own online community, where many budding coders come together to solve each other’s queries. It offers all the basic features like syntax highlighting, word completion, zoom in and out, and code completion. It is a classic in itself and is useful even today.
The Bottom Line
So these are the most popular text editors out there. Choose any one of them and you won’t regret your decision. There are several alternatives available in the market as well and you can use them if they suffice your needs. A text editor is always as good as you are at using it. The difference in performance can be minute, but it cannot be a world apart. So work on being a good coder first, choice of best text editor comes after. Which is your favorite Text Editor?