Text editors in 5 minutes: which editor is best for programmers?
As a programmer, it is important to find a text editor that suits you. You will be spending a lot of time working in it, so you should be comfortable with it.
If you are a beginner in programming and are just starting to think about a text editor, you will find the answers to all your questions here
What is a text editor?
The "correct" definition is: "A text editor is an application for creating and editing text files."
In essence, it is a program with which you can create and edit a large number of files for various programming languages.
In short: This is where you write your code.
What functions should an editor have?
Many text editors share many features in common. These "standard functions" make up the text editor.
Here are a few of the typical features:
- Simple operation and navigation (similar to a word processing program e.g. Word)
- Search and replace function (so you can change a single word in the entire file with just a few clicks)
- Cut, copy, paste (again similar to word processing programs)
- Process UTF-8 text (means that special characters such as ö ä ü ß are allowed)
- Syntax highlighting (in contrast to Word or similar, it makes your life as a programmer easier. So you can read the code more easily and find errors faster)
- Customizable design (e.g. changing font sizes, font colors, etc.)
- Extensibility (Many text editors offer plug-ins to extend the functions of the editor. As a beginner you do not need to worry about this).
The best free text editors for beginners (and advanced)
1. Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is a relatively new editor (release around 2015), but has been successful since then. The editor is designed for cross-platform operation, has an extensive plug-in ecosystem and has some inviting features that make the programmer's life easier:
- Built-in Git commands
- IntelliSense, which through Smart completions offers even more functionality than classic auto-completion.
- Debugging directly from the editor
VSCode has also proven to be faster compared to other text editors like Atom. If you prefer to work with minimal distractions, you can also enable VSCode's "Zen Mode". This mode hides all menus / windows and maximizes the editor.
Atom is a relatively new open source editor suitable for Mac, Windows, and Linux. This highly customizable text editor is backed by a community of dedicated developers, so you have access to hundreds of plugins and themes.
Atom even comes with a built-in tool for creating your own plugins.
3. Notepad ++
As an extended version of the well-known Notepad for Windows, Notepad ++ does everything its namesake can do, and much more.
N ++ allows you to open documents in tabs so that multiple files can be edited without opening and closing them. You can also control all tabs at the same time to compare documents for differences, search for text and replace.
Notepad ++ of course only works with Windows devices, but there is a mobile version. In addition, you will find many plugins that can be downloaded. This allows you to expand the editor to set up auto-save, merge text from multiple documents, and much more.
4. Sublime Text (free trial)
Just because Sublime Text is a lightweight among text editors, it doesn't mean that it lacks functionality. Sublime Text was built from the ground up using a Python API for developers who work with code all day.
Thanks to the editor's variety of keyboard shortcuts, you can quickly navigate through the code and make changes to multiple lines at once. Sublime Text is not only cross-platform, it also uses the native functionalities of the individual operating systems to optimize speed and ease of use.
Sublime can be downloaded for free evaluation, but further use requires the purchase of a license. The cost of a license is around € 80.
Vim was one of the best text editors when it was released in 1991, so the fact that it is on this list is a testament to the longevity of this program. The developers are still working on new scripts and updates in 2019.
Due to the age of the editor, documentation and tutorials about Vim are easy to find. Vim works on all major platforms.
It's not the easiest editor for beginners. However, if you're a little daring, you can take a look at the Vim commands for a full overview of its functionality.
Which text editor do I use for learning programming?
What's my favorite text editor?
Nice that you ask.
It depends on what I'm programming. I use a variety of editors and IDEs including VS Code, Intellij Ultimate, and Notepad ++.
My recommendation for beginners are Notepad ++ or Visual Studio Code (VS Code)because they both have a clear interface, are free and easy to use.
Ultimately, the best text editor is the one you get along with the best. If you are still unsure which editor is suitable for you, I recommend the following. Just download all of the free editors and give them a try. Then decide which one you can work with most efficiently.
At the end of the day, all text editors have the same goal. Just find the editor that will get you there the fastest.
What is your recommendation for text editors? Write me a comment.
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