Text & Source Code Editors Reviewed
To edit CSS and HTML, a simple plaintext editor is needed and the rest depends on the creativity and skill you possess. Nevertheless, to make life a bit easier, some other source code editors which are easier to use with advanced editing features can be utilized. These features are at their best during testing, coding and debugging. Some editors present numerous functions and features along with complete integration development environment. Powerful editors these days present developers with code-snippets, syntax highlighting, plug-ins, diff, macros and an integrated FTP management tool.
The list below consists of an overview of established and some unknown but very useful source code editors. You might find some editors that you have used and might be your favorites. But you will definitely find some alternatives which you did not know about and are worth a consideration when looking for an optimal editor.
Some of the “older” editors such as Vi or EMacs are still available and have maintained and achieved good quality over the years. Below are some of the older editors as sometimes it is better to go with an older tried and tested editor rather than a “fresh” one. The order of the editors below is just random and doesn’t correspond to any evaluation from our end.
Note: Even though there are number of editors in the overview, it still does not mention all of them.
Subethaedit – Text Editor (Mac)
Subethaedit is unknown but still a very powerful text editor. What makes this particular editor different from others is its main focus on collaborative web development. For instance, if and when a source code file is updated, the toll will notify you immediately in the main window. It also shows the changes live which other developers have made in your or their own documents.
This editor is a definitely a good choice when it comes to collaborative coding process. It includes advanced editing features such as a UNIX command line utility which can enable interactive and complex pipe workflows with your terminal. It is customizable, highlights syntax through styles, it also supports editing files as administrator. It now also has an improved AppleScript support to allow control over sharing features. A 30 day trial version is available.
- Customized syntax highlighting
- Documents sharing with Bonjour
- Integration with FTP clients as external editors
- Menu and text manipulation with AppleScript
- Auto completion
- Live updating HTML preview, powered by Safari
Panic Coda (Mac OS) – Web Development Software
It’s not really a source code but rather web development software. Panic Coda does not have a custom version but a licensed SubEthaEdit engine, to allow sharing of documents over the Bonjour network. Coda also allows users to do complex replaces utilizing a technique similar to regular expressions, thanks to a new Find/Replace mechanism it boasts of.
Aptana Studio (Linux/Win/Mac) – Integrated Development Environment
It’s available in two versions, the Community edition and the Professional edition. The community edition is an open source that includes core pieces of Aptana frame work, whereas the professional edition comes with all support and features.
Features offered by Aptana:
- CSS Preview
- Integration with Firebug for Mozilla Firefox
- Visual ScriptDoc giving a compact way to explore the code hierarchy
- Snippets allowing quick insertion of most frequently used text in the documents
Ultraedit (Win) – Text Editor
UltraEdit has now been released in its version 17. It works well with disk based 64 bit file handling on 32 bit Windows platforms. UltraEdit is the way to go if you are in search for a web-development focused editor with number of advanced features.
Features presented by UltraEdit:
- Unicode support
- Supports foreign languages such as (Dutch, American English, French, Hungarian, Finnish, Italian, Swedish and Spanish) with a hundred thousand word spell checker.
- Code Folding
- Environment Selector – Gives customizable and predefined “environments” that remembers Toolbars and UltraEdit’s dockable windows state and has a lot more for user convenience.
- Workspace/Project support
- Named templates
- It has a FTP client built-in to provide access to FTP servers with multiple accounts and automatic save and login.
- Integrated script language to automate tasks
- It supports files well in excess of 4GB, with minimum amount of RAM used even for multi-megabyte files.
- Large files handling and Disk based editing.
- Talent/SSH window
- Preconfigured HTML toolbar for renowned HTML functions
- Configurable keyboard mapping
- Replace and find dialog boxes for all kinds of multi lined searches.
- Allows editing of binary files via Hexadecimal editor. Also shows ASCII and binary code.
- Pre-configured and configurable C/C++, HTML, Perl, VB and Java, with special options for LaTex and FORTRAN.
- Multiple word-libraries available for free download
Komodo Edit (cross-platform) – An Open Source Environment
It is a highly impressive and very professional for a free editor. It offers functionalities which are not even available in commercial products, definitely worth a shot. It is a multi language and a multi platform development environment for end to end dynamic web application.
Features presented by Komodo Edit:
- Multi language file support
- Vi emulation
- Supporting major scripting languages
- Code Folding
- Multi user support and a lot more
- Code snippets
- Call tips and Auto complete in depth
- Project Manager
- Syntax checking
- Emacs key bindings
- Syntax coloring
- XPI Extensions providing support of the same level as Mozilla Firefox, with all the standard applications.
Eclipse (Java/cross-platform) – (IDE)
In the beginning, Eclipse was only meant for Java developers; however, since its capabilities can be extended by installing number of plug-ins, it is widely used by professional developers of all types. It is an open source Java based IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that contains plug-ins for C++ and C Cold Fusion, Python, Ruby, PHP and C#.
Eclipse has all the features that one would expect from a professional editor, but you will still find much more with it. It is not only strong but very powerful as well, definitely worth a consideration. In addition, it presents the following nifty features:
- Content assist
- Parameter hints
- Faster navigation
- Synchronization with CVS
- Actions Saver
- Team-wide settings for code clean up
- A quick fix assistant
TextMate (Intel Mac/Power PC)
An incredibly good looking high end source code. The integration of regular expression research, version control systems, recordable macros and shell integration combine useful features in one interface. What differentiates TextMate from others is the integration of scope selectors (a pattern a lot like CSS selector). It is matched against the caret, i.e. current context and the result is either a match or the opposite. There are also downloadable bundles available along with powerful macros.
Some of the features presented by TextMate:
- Clipboard History
- Foldable Code Blocks
- Selectors just like those of CSS to Pinpoint the scope of Actions and Settings
- Shell command being run from within the document
- Run supports for Perforce, Subversion, SVK and Darcs
- Editable syntax highlight colors
- Able to replace and search a project
- Supports more than 50 languages
- Macros recorded with no need of programming
- Visible bookmarks to jump places within a file
- File tabs when working on projects
- Jump between files with minimum number of key strokes
- Words completion from current document
- Able to plug via scripting language you prefer
- Dynamic outline for working with more than one file
HTML Kit (Win) – Fully Featured Editor
HTML Kit is a freeware editor with complete features. It is mainly designed to help XML, HTML and XHTML authors to publish, edit, preview, format, and validate web pages. It is a multipurpose tool that supports number of programming and scripting languages.
Features presented by HTML Kit:
- Batch scratch and replace
- Manual and auto block indenting
- Multiple preview methods
- Auto save
- Hot keys
- Creates back up files automatically by making a copy in a different folder or appending a new extension
- Integrated with windows batch actions
- Time tracker
- Unicode pad
- FTP workspace
- 400+ plug-ins available for editing and extending
- Validation of CSS, HTML and XML
- Actions bar
HTML Kit can definitely be considered as serious alternative to Ultraedit because of the features it offers.