Developers are passionate about their code editors. I use Visual Studio and Atom.io on a daily basis, but I am always on the lookout for new tools that may be better suited to my everyday work. Recently, a fellow developer talked about how much she loved Adobe Brackets (or Brackets as it is often referred), so I decided to take a closer look at the editor.
Get Brackets up and running in minutes
Brackets is available as a free download (there's a download button on the home page) for Mac OS X, Windows Vista and later, Ubuntu and Debian. Installation is as easy as point and click. The troubleshooting page provides installation tips and resolutions to common problems. Figure A shows the basic Brackets interface on my Mac with the filename and/or directory structure on the left and the code pane on the right.
Brackets offers an easy to use interface.
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The Quick Edit option provides assistance with code syntax as well as code options — Figure C shows it in action for selected CSS. It shows the current rule as well as options for selected other rules from other CSS files in the current directory/application. You can create a completely new rule as well; in Brackets terminology, this is called inline editing.
Context menus offer quick access to features.
Quick Edit for CSS provides an inline editor for rules.
The color selector/converter provides an easy way to work with CSS colors.
The Extension Manager window allows you to add features.
When working on a project, it is beneficial to see the results of a change as it is made; the live preview feature of Brackets provides this option with the help of the Chrome browser. This is available via the lightning bolt at the top right of the interface just above the brick icon that is visible in Figure A. The live preview opens the current file in Chrome and reflects any code changes you make on the fly. The final icon in the upper right of the Brackets interface facilitates integration with the Adobe Creative Cloud service.
The real power of a code editor is the ability to extend it — this is true with Sublime, Atom, Visual Studio, and most popular editors today. Brackets is no different, as it offers a powerful extension framework. There are a number of extensions available — these can be browsed and installed via the Extension Manager from the File menu or by clicking the brick in the upper right corner of the interface (visible in Figure A).
Figure E shows the Extension Manager window; you can easily scroll the list and click the Install button to add that extension to the tool — a good example is the third one shown in Figure E, which adds Git integration. In addition, you can install from a URL or drag a file to the window, as shown in the bottom of the Extension Manager window.
The Brackets interface is easy to use, and the extensions offer a number of options, including the ability to extend the tool. The live preview option is great, because you get instant feedback on changes.
With my focus beyond web standards development, I will likely stick with my current toolset; however, I recommend Brackets to frontend developers.
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Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a production environment on a daily basis.