There were times when the code was written in vi, ed or some Notepad-like applications.
More intelligent text editors like IDEs hadn’t yet been invented and the programmers just did their job best as they could. Nowadays it sounds like a kind of punishment because we are now used to multiple programs with code highlighting and lots of useful features, which have made our life much easier.
The diversity of code editors is expanding more and more. Therefore, there’s a difference between the code editors and the IDEs.
IDE (which stands for Integrated Development Environment) is a kind of a program for software development, providing the ability to do everything in one place. For example, you can write code and debug it with a compiler or a linter using the same program.
IDEs also include lots of automatization tools, support multiple programming languages and have an extended functionality out of the box. Though, the difference between the IDE and the code editor is getting increasingly insignificant due to lots of extensions enlarging the functionality of code editors. Choosing an IDE can be not a simple task when you are just getting started. And, of course, IDEs are best used in big projects, especially when you develop or maintain several of them.
Otherwise, I’d suggest using a more simple editor.
There’s one more point - the type of development. Front-end developers’ needs differ slightly from those of back-end developers or administrators, for example. That’s why the editors for web designers and web developers are often called “programming text editors” or just “text editors”, and the editors for programmers and administrators - “code editors.”
But still, they are rather difficult to distinguish one from another.
The developers’ choice differs much when choosing the code editors or the IDEs.
It would be rather difficult to name all of them, but most popular are Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, Brackets, Atom, Vim, Notepad++, jEdit, Komodo, UltraEdit, Geany, PhpStorm/WebStorm, NetBeans, Aptana, Eclipse, Xcode and many others.
But in this article, we'll consider only seven of them, most popular to my opinion. If you do not agree, your comments are highly appreciated.
In further screenshots, I’ll use the dark color schemes in the editors, just because I prefer them to the light ones 😉
First of all, Atom is an open-source and free to use code editor with a perfect for coding UI and UX.
You can customize the editor according to your needs, for example, work simultaneously in as many panes as is comfortable for you:
Written in Node.js and developed by GitHub, it's a community-built and maintained application. It’s often called a hackable text editor as there are multiple packages to use due to its modular design.You can download many free extensions to personalize your editor.
Atom is highly customizable since it is web-based and its API is open to integrations. It’s also possible to create custom snippets for the repeated tasks. This editor is available for all major platforms, completely portable, lightweight and has a great developer community.
It’s a comfortable environment if you are working with small projects. Otherwise, it can eat up quite a lot of your RAM and work slowly or even crash. One more point - you can work only in English as the editor is comparatively new and hasn’t yet been translated into other languages.
Atom can definitely be considered one of the most intuitive and user-friendly editors.
Another free product is Brackets - a modern text editor, created by Adobe.
Plain and simple, it is crafted for web developers and designers from the ground up. It’s open source and cross-platform, so you can create your own add-ons and share them with a community, which is great.
The live preview feature is already built-in as a hosting mode, so you don’t have to repeatedly reload your browser repeatedly each time you make some changes in code - it updates your page in a real-time.
Another great ability is modifying the config file to customize the experience of your coding process.
The default dark theme of the editor:
And the Quick Edit feature is really useful:
The ‘Find and replace’ feature throughout the file/project is also invaluable:
The most popular features as Autoprefixer, validation, Git integration, auto-complete / Emmet, Bootstrap snippets and more - are available as extensions directly from the editor Extension Manager in the program settings:
The UI is basic and simple, and is not overloaded with a bunch of features you don't need. The sidebar allows you to access your files and folders quickly.
This is another source code editor developed for Windows, Linux, and macOS by Microsoft.
Easy-to-use interface, syntax highlighting, snippets, debugging, code auto completion, multiple replace functions, interactive search, and embedded Git control - are just some of its benefits.
So, it really blurs the line between a text editor and a full-fledged IDE.
Visual Studio code works well straight out of the box, in addition, a huge extension library allows you to customize the editor to your toolchain.
It's quick and efficient, though the startup time can be really long sometimes. One more distracting fact is that it’s not possible to open more than one project in the same workspace.
As you can see, it can be a great solution for some basic project or for modifying single files. Anyway, VS Code is definitely worth playing with.
One more free text editor is Notepad ++. The editor was released as a Windows application. Based on the Scintilla editor component, it’s written in C++ to increase performance and reduce program size.
In 2015 Stack Overflow conducted a worldwide Developer Survey, and Notepad++ was voted as the most used text editor worldwide with 36.5% of the 56,033 respondents claiming to use it (Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015). According to this source, it’s mostly popular among data scientists and students.
It has a very low resource usage and is more lightweight than Sublime or Atom for just editing text. Another great tool is macros recording. There’s also a huge list of plugins that can be used to do specific automated tasks.
The editor is customizable and highlights code when editing C++ / PHP / CSS / HTML / Powershell / SQL / XML and other file types, being of a great help to developers. A pretty decent code editing tool, I would say.
Compared to the previously described editors, this one is not free, not even cheap (the cost is about $100), but apparently, it is worth the money.
The editor contains lots of tools for programmers, including configurable syntax highlighting, macros, code folding, regular expressions for search-and-replace, remote editing via FTP, and more.
The number of features is really incredible. It’s very customizable and highly agile for anyone's workflow. Moreover, the editor quickly handles large files easily. UltraEdit provides an outstanding support - unlimited, lifetime, quick and efficient.
Besides, it continuously improves the product continually, offering frequent updates.
As just a text editor, with its flexibility, speed, and customization features, this program has many advantages over full-fledged IDE's.
Sublime Text 3 is one of the most favorite text/code editors in the development environment.
It’s very rich in functions, but as with the previous editor, it’s not free. The license will cost you $70 and does not expire, however, you’ll have to pay the upgrade fee to get the next program version (Sublime Text 4). You can evaluate it for free for an unlimited period until you’re ok with the alerts reminding you about the license purchase.
The advantages of this editor are evident to anyone who has ever used it. It’s incredibly fast, lightweight, stable, completely customizable, cross-platform and intuitive.
Sublime editor has a huge library of community plugins, which are easily managed directly from the editor.
Auto-complete, auto-save, multiple selections, customizable syntax highlighting, easy navigation with tab view and folder structure, a built-in command line, and many more cool features are already included. Almost everything you can imagine you’ll need in your work is already here for your convenience. And what is not - well, that can be downloaded as a plugin.
A high-grade text editor, preferred by the majority of developers.
Not actually being just a text editor, this impressive JetBrains IDE provides an excellent user experience throughout the whole process of development. WebStorm has a 30-day trial period. Afterwards, if it satisfies all your needs, you’ll have to purchase it for $129 (for the first year, later it will cost you less). However, it’s worth the money.
If you are developing JS based applications and prefer to work within an IDE - you definitely have to try it. Everything you need is already included.
Its advantages are significant. Git support is great because it's very convenient to have an ability to diff files, revert to previous commits, see the history tree, etc. within the same app.
An extensive plugin library will help to extend the functionality or to customize the appearance.
As you can see, this excellent editor integrates different web coding technologies into one.
And one more thing - JetBrains offers an incredible student program - you can use it for free for one year.
If you want to inspect the code of any template, you can use each of these editors, just choose the one most suitable for you! Probably, this table will help you with making a choice:
|Atom||Brackets||Visual Studio Code||Notepad ++||UltraEdit||Sublime||WebStorm|
|Approx. drive space||~150 MB||~180 MB||~200 MB||~7 MB||~85 MB||~28 MB||~600 MB|
|RTL / Bidi||-||-||-||+||-||-||+|
In our company, WebStorm and Sublime editors are the most popular among the developers, who create these stunning templates. I personally, prefer Sublime for its reliability, lightness and customizable syntax highlighting. Concerning RTL and multi-language support - I do not need these features in my code editor, so already feel very comfortable without them.
If I’ve missed your favorite one, don’t hesitate to mention it in the comments below.
Explaining your choice will be appreciated even more 🙂