The Adobe-backed open source text editor, Brackets has finally come out of Beta, after 3 years in the making, and it is now available as Brackets 1.0, a fully polished text editor for front-end developers.
Following this unexpected yet wonderful release, I’ve decided to take a another look at some of the top text editors we have today and compare the features to see which one’s the best. Chances are, if you’re a front-end developer, you might be all settled down with a text editor of your choice. But, if you want to upgrade your coding experience, you may want to read along the article because I’ve just replaced my favorite text editor with a new one.
I won’t be going into depth about each text editor, instead I will detail some of their coolest features and compare them against each other to figure out a winner. I should also note that this is not a sponsored article. Nobody paid me to write about these softwares. Alright, let the battle begins.
Sublime Text is unarguably the most popular text editor among front-end developers. I’ve been using it (the free version) for several months and I must say it’s quite incredible. It’s not only well polished, but also comes with plenty of handy features to make coding much easier, like the ability to select and change similar strings at once with multiple cursors and opening folders to work with multiple files at once.
The smooth font, colors and the minimalist user interface also makes Sublime Text very easy to look at, which is very useful when doing long hours of coding. Getting started on a new project is always easier with Sublime Text, thanks to its quick snippets feature which lays down the basic ground work for your project.
I learned about Brackets about two months ago, I was all settled down with Sublime Text 2, I wasn’t even thinking of switching to a new editor. But I gave it a try anyway, and it simply blew me away. Brackets is basically an improved version of Sublime Text, which you can get for free. New version has multiple cursors, split view, and a new extension called Extract that lets you pull design information like colors, fonts, from PSD files.
Let me break down some of my favorite features of Brackets. First of all, the Live Preview is my favorite thing about this text editor. I used to be switching back and forth between the code editor and the browser to see my saved changes, but with Brackets I see changes updating Live, without even having to save my changes. This is a very time-saving feature that I fell in love with.
Want to find hex codes for you colors? No need to browse sites for color palettes or use Photoshop, just clicking on the code and hitting Ctrl+E on Brackets will bring a small tab for your to pick and customize colors with ease. And yes, those special shortcut key combinations used in Sublime Text for multiple cursors and etc. can also be used in Brackets with a little bit of modification. Plus the sidebar blends well with the interface to keep you focused on the coding area.
This used to be my default text editor when I first started coding some HTML. Back then, I wasn’t well aware about the full potentials of Notepad++, but later on I learned some of its advanced customizations and plugins to be extremely useful. But compared to other great text editors out there, Notepad++ feels a little bit outdated.
Lack of style configuration is what keeps me away from Notepad++. You can switch to darker themes but when you try to override the font and font size, everything gets messed up. Notepad++ is a good starting editor for newbies, since it offers a light and similar interface to Windows’ default Notepad app, but it’s definitely not for settling down, especially when it doesn’t even have a sidebar to open folders.
Sublime Text 2 is the best software you can get for editing code. Only down side is that it will cost you $70 USD. You can use the free evaluation for as long as you like but you will be prompted with an annoying message every 30 saves to buy the software, which can be very distracting when working on a project. I loved Sublime Text 2, but I wasn’t going to pay $70 bucks for a text editor, no way!
So, the winner is…. Brackets! In addition to the fact that its completely free and open source, what got me fell in love with this text editor was its incredibly time saving features like the Live Preview, accurate code hints and Inline Editors. There are plenty of extensions available for customizing as well.
Just because famous developers use Sublime Text, doesn’t make it the best option available. Try Brackets for a few minutes and I guarantee you’ll have your mind blown.
Update: Atom, the “hackable text-editor” from the folks over at Github is also worth a mention. It’s not as well-polished as Brackets, but still a good free alternative.
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