You can make writing code as complicated as you want, but at the end of the day, all you really need is your favorite, trusty text editor. You can use a simple one like Microsoft’s Notepad, but oftentimes it’s helpful to have a text editor that has syntax highlighting/coloring, support for multiple languages, a robust find and replace feature, and other features and options that make writing code just a tad bit easier. If you’re in search of a good, free text editor – you’ve come to the right place. This article reviews 10 leading text editors that are best suited for developers.
1. Notepad++ (Windows)
It has an auto-completion feature (for most supported languages) that guesses what you’re trying to write, a tabbed interface which is great for working with multiple files without cluttering your task bar, a powerful RegEx find-and-replace feature, code folding, support for a large array of languages (even Assembler!) and much more.
2. TextWrangler (Mac)
TextWrangler is a multi-purpose text editor for the Mac OS. It is a programmer-friendly text editor and Unix/Server Admin text editor. It also has a function browser so that you can quickly find and jump to the function you’re looking for (very helpful for those really long files).
3. Gedit (Linux)
Gedit is the official text editor of the GNOME desktop. Unlike Microsoft’s built-in text editor (Notepad), gedit is a more feature-packed text editor geared towards usage for programming and mark-up.
4. GNU Emacs (Windows, Mac, Linux)
GNU Emacs (more commonly referred to simply as Emacs) is a cross-platform, extendible text editor geared towards programmers. It has a file-comparison feature (M-x ediff) that highlights differences between two files (useful for figuring out changes in a file made by coders who don’t document/comment their revisions).
5. Crimson Editor (Windows)
Crimson Editor is a light-weight text editor for Windows that supports many languages. It has a “Macros” features which lets you record a sequence of tasks so that you can reuse the sequence with a click of a button.
6. SciTE (Windows, Linux)
SciTE, written on top of the open source Scintilla code-editing component, is a speedy text editor aimed for use in source code editing. It can be contained on portable storage drives (USB flash drives) so that you can conveniently carry it around and use it on any computer without having to install it. SciTE is a compatible with Windows and Linux operating systems and has been tested by the developer on Windows XP and on Fedora 8 and Ubuntu 7.10.
7. Komodo Edit (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Komodo Edit is a freeware, cross-platform text editor created by ActiveState. It is a simple text editor based on the popular integrated development environment – Komodo IDE. It has a convenient and flexible Project Manager feature to help you organize and keep track of your project files.
8. jEdit (Windows, Mac, Linux)
jEdit is a text editor that specifically caters to programmers. It’s written in Java and runs on any operating system that supports it. You can download a ton of plugins (check out the Plugins Central on jEdit’s website) to extend its built-in features.
9. Vim (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Vim is a text editor written by Bram Moolenaar and first released publicly in 1991. Based on the vi editor common to Unix-like systems, Vim is designed for use both from a command line interface and as a standalone application in a graphical user interface. Vim is free and open source software and is released under a license that includes some charityware clauses, encouraging users who enjoy the software to consider donating to children in Uganda. The license is compatible with the GNU General Public License. Although Vim was originally released for the Amiga, Vim has since been developed to be cross-platform, supporting many other platforms.
10. Textpad (Windows)
Not as pretty as some but that might be why it can still handle working with text files in the 100’s of MB. Some of its features include: JAVA compiler built in, record macros, clipboard history, Regex search and replace, compare files, split windows and Bookmarks.
There are many different editors available and most are very powerful. You will want to find an editor you are comfortable using and that contains the navigation, highlighting and other features you may want to make you more productive while you code.