Favorite Editor for Programming

Whether you’re programming for your career or as a hobby, finding the best tool is always challenges. See my thoughts on the various programming editors available today.

I’m the type of person that changes their editor every week. Not only am I constantly changing my editor, but I also change themes and fonts multiple times per day. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite finds, since I started programming.

Editor

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that if a language has an IDE that provides great out-of-the-box tooling, then I will most likely be taking advantage of that IDE. For example, with Java I would use IntelliJ and with C# I would use Visual Studio. Of course, for iOS development I would be using Xcode. Otherwise, I would probably use a text editor.

Recently, I have been primarily writing in Javascript using Node.js. So, most of the editors mentioned below, will be focused around that.

There are 3 things that I take into consideration when using a text editor:

Functionality & Plugins

Obviously, the most important part of any editor is the functionality. All text editors should provide basic functionality like autocomplete, split panes, syntax highlighting, etc. But, what really separates a text editor from the rest are plugins. Plugins let you extend the functionality for your specific needs. For example, if you’re writing HTML, you can download a plugin to auto-close tags, or if you’re writing Javascript, you can download a linter.

Design

Since I stare at a text editor for most of my day, the design is very important to me. The cleaner the design the faster it is to read through code, navigate through code folds, make changes, etc.

Speed

When working on large projects, switching between files, opening and closing panes, and saving files is happening on a consistent bases. If there is a delay in any of these actions, it can become a little frustrating.

And the winner is…

So, with all of that in mind, here’s my favorite editors in order of preference:

  1. Visual Studio Code
  2. Vim
  3. Atom
  4. Sublime
  5. Brackets

In my experience, the community behind the editor is what really drives the plugins. Vim has a tremendous amount of users and thus the most available plugins. However, they are a little more tedious to install and setup when compared to other editors. You usually have to use a package manager and clone the repository of the plugin onto your computer manually. With the others, it’s as simple as clicking one button.

Unfortunately, Vim is a bit limited in design and when using plugins things can become a little cluttered. The rest of the editors do better job with design. In fact, Brackets was designed by Adobe with design-first approach. Keep in mind, design is subjective, so taste may vary.

Vim has always been known for it’s speed. It can open large files almost instantly. The other editors do struggle a bit with huge (and I mean huge) files. Visual Studio Code and Sublime are also very snappy. Atom, on the other hand, has slowed down for me quiet a bit. This is probably due to the amount of plugins I’ve installed, but VSCode has no problems and I’ve installed even more for it.

Favorite Themes For Programming (coming soon)

Favorite Fonts For Programming (coming soon)

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