Software

Five programmer-specific text editors

Programmers need an editing tool that works with them and offers the special features that cater to their peculiar needs.

Credit: Wikimedia.org

If you're a programmer (either full time or just on occasion), you know the single most important tool in your work day (or night) is the text editor. Forget the office suite, the groupware suite, or any other business-specific tool - your bread and butter is something altogether different than what the rest of the world depends upon. You need a tool that works with you and offers the special features that cater to programmers who:

  • Work with different languages
  • Heavily comment their work
  • Depend upon syntax highlighting
  • Demand speed and efficiency

The list could go on, but most programmers don't have time for long lists, so we'll get to the heart of the matter and see what five different text editors have to offer for the programmers out there.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. Boxer Text Editor

Boxer Text Editor will set you back $59.99. Is it worth it? If you're looking for a text editor that features: Macros (including a Macro editor), color syntax highlighting/printing, edit files up to 2GB in size, active spell checking, regular expression search and replace, configurable keyboard, Ctags function indexing, and much more - the price of the editor will mean nothing. Boxer is a Windows-only application and has the standard drop-down menu-driven interface. Boxer also has a powerful programmer's calculator, a calendar (that allows you to easily insert dates into your code), and even includes helpful quick-access lists (like Two-letter U.S. State codes, Internet country codes, Hi-Tech stock symbols, HTML tags, and more) and reference charts (like ANSI, OEM, error, and HTML color charts).

2. Gedit

Gedit is the official text editor for the GNOME desktop (as well as Unity). Gedit offers support for internationalized text, configurable syntax highlighting, undo/redo, remote file editing, file reverting, print/clipboad support, search/replace, go to specific line, auto indentation, text wrapping, bracket matching, plugin system, and more. The plugin page shows the types of plugins available (which include third-party plugins, like Macro Record and Play, Smart Highlighting, and more). Gedit was created by programmers, for programmers - so it's easy to use, efficient, and gets the job done. It's also free (GPL) and comes installed, by default, on any GNOME-based system.

3. Twistpad

Twistpad offers the usual features found in code-specific text editors: syntax highlighting, unicode support, active and passive spell check, auto-complete, and more. Twistpad also offers project and workspace management, export to HTML/RTF, document compare, and a handy "Snippets" tool where you can store code as text files (with the .TSF extension) in the Snippets folder. After you've saved your snippets, you can hit Ctrl-J to open the Snippets tool bar, locate your Snippet, and double-click it to insert it into your current code. Twisted is a Windows-only tool and is $19.95 (with a 30-day free trial) for a single-user license and $299 for a site license.

4. EditPlus

EditPlus is a Windows-only editor focusing primarily on Web developers. This particular tool is best suited for editing HTML, PHP, CSS, ASP, Perl, JavaScript, Java, and more. It includes a HEX viewer, supports syntax highlighting, ftp commands (for file uploading), customizable keyboard shortcuts, zen coding support, and much more. Built into EditPlus is its own Web Browser for seamless viewing of your work. Edit plus will set you back $35.00 for a single license, $150.00 for a 5-user license, $230.00 for a 10-user license, all the way up to $900.00 for a 100-user license.

5. EditRocket

EditRocket is the only cross-platform editor in the list. This tool is also one of the more powerful in the group. It features web developer tools (CSS style builder, HTML tag builder, tag navigation), powerful search tools, built-in file system browser, coding tools (code builders, function / method navigators, program execution), validators (XML, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS), file compare, built-in FTP/SFTP client, key ahead, text to html converter, HTML Tidy Tool (automatically clean up HTML errors - according to W3C standards), and much more. A single license for EditRocket is $49.95. Multi-user licenses are available and go up to $42.95 per license for 20 or more users.

Bottom line

If you've done any programming, you know the importance of a solid editor. With the vast selection of those tools available, it's nice to know there are choices. And if none of these options suit you, there's always the likes of vim, emacs, and a roster of other choices. Somewhere, in the mix, the perfect editor is waiting for your talents to bring it to life.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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