There’s a plethora of text editors out there. And a few winners have emerged from the pack and left their competitors trailing in the dust. As a software developer, I use text editors all the time for scripting and coding purposes. Up until just a few years ago, I was a big fan of full blown IDE’s (Integrated development environments), but then, I discovered what eventually became the world’s best text editor for me – Sublime Text.
Let’s see why Sublime Text is so awesome and how it could make your life easier. This post is going to dive into many of the features that are relevant to people who develop websites and software in general. But with that being said, you should know that I’ve also used Sublime Text for other tasks such as editing a CSV (comma separated file) file’s content or reformatting an article’s copy, all because it’s so damn powerful for any number of tasks, both coding and noncoding alike. So, let’s see what all the fuss is about:
Sublime Has a Large Set of Clever and Well Integrated Features
Sublime Text has a ton of super useful features that just don’t exists in “lesser” editors. My personal all time favorite is the multiple-line cursor. You simply select your word and press ALT+F3 and it selects all occurrences of that word in the file. Then you can just start typing and the text is entered in all the selected spots. Alternatively, if you just want to edit only a few occurrences of the word, you can position your cursor into the word and begin pressing CTRL+D over and over again and you’ll see Sublime select a new occurrence of that word each time. This is beyond useful for text replacements. Doing this same thing with the usual Find/Replace function is clunky and can even be dangerous because you won’t get to see what’s actually being changed, which could end up breaking your code. Friends don’t let friends ‘find & replace.’
Other extremely useful features include a very fast way of opening project files via the CTRL+P keyboard shortcut, followed by typing the first few letters of the filename you want to open. No more having to browse through a hierarchy of files. Just start typing the name of the file and a list of matches will pop up. Then select your favorite. Boom!
Another great feature is the way the editor settings are organized. Instead of a traditional graphical user interface with checkboxes and selection boxes so you can turn on and off various features within the editor, Sublime has a simple text file that contains all the features and their settings… in one single, super handy place. The power of this way of presenting settings is that you can quickly find any of your settings without fumbling around through a maze of settings and adjustments distributed across multiple tabs and hidden in different menus, which is usually the way it’s done in other text editors. In Sublime, you open the settings file and then use the Find feature to find the setting you want to change. For example, if I wanted to turn off word wrapping, I would just open the settings file, press CTRL+F to bring up search, type in “wrap” and hit enter. The editor takes me to this line right away:
// Disables horizontal scrolling if enabled. // May be set to true, false, or "auto", where it will be disabled for // source code, and otherwise enabled. "word_wrap": "auto",
I then change it from auto to false and I’m done. The change is instantly applied to all of my open files tabs. Talk about quick.
Sublime Text also lets you edit files over FTP or SFTP directly on your server. And that’s just some of the dozens of very useful features available within this awesome little piece of software. They’re all smoothly integrated into a beautifully designed graphical user interface (GUI) and work together to provide the ultimate in pleasant coding experiences when working within Sublime Text.
Sublime is Stable and Very Fast
Sublime Text is also one of the best written pieces of software in terms of stability, extendability, and speed. Over the years that I’ve been using it, I don’t recall it crashing even once. Not once! How many other pieces of software can you say that about?! Sublime itself was written in C++, and was written very well, making it extremely fast. The editor starts and fully loads tabs from your last opened project in a fraction of a second. To me, this is a major selling point as compared to a similar editor, Atom, which was developed by Github, which runs on top of Node.js and WebKit. Sublime Text is significantly faster because of the choice of the underlying technology that was used to develop the editor in the first place.
Sublime Has a Vast Plugin Ecosystem
For me, this is quite possibly the best selling point of Sublime Text. There are hundreds, if not thousands of plugins available for the editor and they extend the default set of available features tremendously. Whether you’re a web developer, Python programmer, Ruby on Rails coder, or Java project team member, you will absolutely find plugins that can speed up just about any aspect of your day-to-day work. There are plugins for syntax highlighting, code auto-completion, Git integration, easy color picking for web developers, code snippets, and so much more. Just explore the plugin ecosystem and customize the editor to fit seamlessly into your workflow.
Sublime is Cross-Platform
This one is a biggie for me because I use it a lot, across several different systems. Sublime text is a fully cross-platform text editor and it looks exactly the same on all platforms. There are Windows, Linux, and Mac versions available. This is a rare feat indeed to get such uniformity across multiple operating systems.
Sublime is Continuously Evolving
The Sublime Text developer continuously adds new releases every few months. The project is very much alive and well, and is developed with love by an extremely competent software engineer.
But there is one potential downside of Sublime Text that I haven’t mentioned yet. And that is that it’s not free, strictly speaking. The license is $70; BUT a fully functional and 100% FREE version is available for download from the Sublime website. The only downside of not purchasing a license is that you’ll get an occasional window opening in Sublime Text thanking you for evaluating the editor and asking you to purchase the license. In my opinion, this editor is by far and without question worth every single last penny, however, if you’re short on cash you’re not going to be forced to purchase it in order to use it, which is great if you’re bootstrapping.
All in all, Sublime Text is an extremely well crafted editor that will serve your needs across virtually all programming and scripting languages. The plugin ecosystem is vast and continuously growing. And together with the beautifully designed user interface, and a myriad of available themes, Sublime Text is our choice, hands down for where you should spend your time when working on your code.
And if you’re just getting started with learning to code and want to get your feet wet with some HTML and CSS, check out our latest bite-sized tutorial and be up and running with the basic skills you need to build responsive landing pages from scratch in just about 3 hours. We’ll even show you handy Sublime text tricks while we’re at it…