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.

Also read:

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.

19 comments
EditPlug
EditPlug

EditPlug is a text editor for windows with a plugin system. It has built in FTP Save As feature to quickly upload files to a server. It comes with some plugins and you can create your own in visual C or Delphi. I noticed other editors such as EditPlus are missing plugin systems.

bass_sears
bass_sears

You missed PsPad for Windows... seriously, check it out... it's free, has all the syntax and highlighting features you might want, good with line numbers, localized into lots of languages, and BEST BEST for my use is remote file editing... edit a file via FTP, hit save and it's saved onto the remote web server, perfect for working on remote dev environments.

M.W.H.
M.W.H.

Perhaps TR can find an editor that stops them from placing a 1.5mb image file at the top of articles. I have a bandwidth cap so thanks very much. Oh, and for the record, I do 90% of my editing with Notepad++ with the built in FTP client.

klarsen
klarsen

Really Jack, you overlooked one of the best! Its the same price (for Windows) as Boxer, has very compariable features, and is also available for Linux and the Mac. We've used it here for over a decade, and wouldn't be without it!

gisairo
gisairo

And what criteria did you use to select a "programmer specific" text editors

yass974
yass974

For Mac users, i will suggest TextMate...

Slayer_
Slayer_

Preferably with previews, and intelisense? Preferably free?

jasonbutz
jasonbutz

You forgot Sublime Text 2, or 3 beta. It has everything you might need and works on most platforms.

guillegr123
guillegr123

Other text editors I remember: Geany (my favorite for C programming, cross-platform, and available as portable version in PortableApps), Anjuta, Kate.

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

What none of these editors seem to give is firm line numbering, a great help when trying to find where one was in the previous editing/compilation/testing pass. Of course, this is an OS rather than an editor issue. I don't think much of Unix generally, having worked on several better platforms, but the biggest let-down is the lack of correlation between vi and the compilers, combined with the loss of line numbering whenever one inserts or deletes a line. Even IBM, despised by users of other hardware types, has a better system of handling source code. Come back, TSO/ISPF, all is forgiven.

jott0204
jott0204

Granted I only do minor programming on occasion, but Notepad++ is a great tool for me. And the price is perfect....FREE --James

Slayer_
Slayer_

I have none of those..... I am using textpad for heavy lifting of text (like my 80k page SQL script) Primalscript for vbscript coding for the intelisense it has on late bound objects. Notepad++ as it's just generally pretty good.

khuongduybui
khuongduybui

It is fast, fully customizable (all config files are in JSON format!!!), portable, extensible (themes, syntaxes, git integration and all other sort of plugins...), and cross-platformed.

RockyMountainScot
RockyMountainScot

UltraEdit is still the best text editor I've used. Multiple language support, multiple orientation support (column editing still is hard to find in other editors), binary support, and the macro controls are very good. It's worth the cost (small) and if you opt for the life-time purchase option, you will never be without upgrades. IDM keeps getting better over time.

thom_mcgraw
thom_mcgraw

I've been using UltraEdit since '96. I haven't seen anything better. They've also added portable versions. And if you get the forever license, you never need to pay for an upgrade again.

khuongduybui
khuongduybui

And much more, for example, just check out their website. It's not free, but you can use version 2 trial forever, no time limit, no restricted functions. You can't use version 3 without a license, though.

mark
mark

I use notepad++ for just about everything to do with programming these days but because I am in the process of making the move to Linux completely, I am going to have to try out the Sublime editor. Or I am just going to have to run N++ under Wine or get the source code and port it to Linux myself.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I use Notepad++ for HTML, CSS and JavaScript. In fact, I have basically replaced Notepad (on my W7 PC) with Notepad++. I still keep Notepad around, as it has the special icons for ini and dat files.

charles.hodgkins
charles.hodgkins

I have a forever Windows license and it was the best money I ever spent on a tool. At the time there were no other versions but now they offer both Mac and Linux versions. Were I to use either of those platforms, I would definitely buy UltraEdit for it too.