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Comparison of the best text editors for web developers

Imagine the following situation: You wake up in the morning, unconcerned and unaware of what will pop up in your mind next. But then, it happens. Out of nowhere, this amazing idea for a new webapp comes to your mind. Good ideas are rarely, having one is a gift.

The idea is stuck in your mind and it won’t get out anytime soon. Without hesitation, you throw your plans for the day away and start thinking about the webapp. The idea gets you all hyped up and excited and you start coding right away. But wait … there’s one problem. What text editor should you use?

Notepad++? Nah, you wouldn’t like the old-school design.
Wordpad? Hell no.
Vim? No, why should you use a Volvo when there are five Ferraris left in the garage?

But, is it even important? Code is code, isn’t it?

Choosing your text editor is a big thing. The decision will have a tremendous impact on your whole work, your workflow, programming style and even on your productivity.

The idea in your mind may be unbelievable and mind-blowing, but you have to take a minute to pick your editor wisely. You can change it after a while, you’re not married to your text editor, but it is a important decision.

That’s why I wrote this story. I considered a few factors:

  • Performance: Is it a Ferrari or a Volvo?
  • Stability. Is it a blue screen show or a smooth program?
  • Features: Does it work right away or do you need a 1,000 plugins?
  • Customization: How many plugins and themes are available?
  • Community: Does anybody even use that thing? How often does it get updated?

That’s basically it. Let’s dive into it.


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Released in 2014 by GitHub, Atom was built with CoffeeScript

Why you should use it:

  • Available for all platforms, even for Linux.
  • It’s a Freebie!
  • Amazing Git integration. But no wonder, since it comes from GitHub.
  • A whole lot of users and tutorials on Medium.
  • Best file-tree-view across all editors.
  • Easy-to-use package-installer, and lots of packages and plugins available.
  • Can be used as an IDE, not just for web development.

Why you should not use it:

  • Takes some time to get the right setup.
  • Project manager possibilities are a bit limited but plugins can fix that
  • It runs on Electron, so it is a bit slow and takes some time to respond, espacially with large repos.
  • Don’t use large files, if you aren’t in love with laggs and bugs.

What do I think of it?

I honestly like Atom, because of their great Git integration and overall design. It is definitly slow at times, but that’s not much of a problem in my opinion.

Adobe Brackets

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Released in 2014 by Adobe, Brackets was built for web development only

Why you should use it:

  • Adobe is awesome.
  • Available for all Platforms.
  • Again, it’s free!
  • Great live-browser-previews. Move the cursor inside an element inside the editor, and it will be highlighted in the browser. Awesome!
  • Takes only 40 MB of space away (Atom takes away 80 MB).
  • Code completion works out of the box.

Why you should not use it:

  • Additional plugins and packages are required for a full experience!
  • Smaller community, program doesn’t get as much updates as Atom.
  • Fewer plugins and themes than Atom.
  • Intended for JS/CSS/HTML only.

What do I think of it?

Great for beginners. When i started coding, I used Brackets, and I didn’t regret it a single second. The preview feature is nice and helpful, also the design. If you want to get started with coding, you’ll love it!

Visual Studio Code

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Built by Microsoft, VS Code is a small editor, nothing really exciting about it

Why you should use it:

  • Available for all Platforms.
  • It’s free.
  • It’s fast.
  • Git integration is good.
  • Reliable and stable, doesn’t crash at all.

Why you should not use it:

  • No fancy features like a live-preview.
  • I mean, it’s Microsoft …

What do I think of it?

The inventors of the worst web browser ever made a good text editor for web development? Come on, as a hater, I have to doubt that. But even I have to admit, the editor is not bad at all. It runs stable, is reliable and fast, the only thing missing is any type of fancy feature. If you chose this editor, I would not be surprises.

Sublime Text

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Built in 2008 by a former Google employee, Sublime Text was written in Python and C++

Why you should use it:

  • Available for all Platforms.
  • Outperforms every other editor. Unbelievable speed and performance.
  • Takes only about 10 MB of space on your disk.
  • Reliable.

Why you should not use it:

  • Costs 70 dollars! That’s a whole lot of money for a text editor. Especially for young developers.
  • Takes some time to configure it, since you have to install a lot of plugins to really get everything out of it.
  • Git integration isn’t the greatest.

What do I think of it?

Sublime Text is good, but honestly, not worth 70 bucks! If you can easily afford it, you may want to use it, since it is so freakin fast. But otherwise, stick with the free alternatives, they aren’t that much worse.

Last words

There you have it, the best editors for web development are Brackets, Atom, Sublime Text and VS Code. If you are really hardcore and want to take the hardest challenge, try Vim, but honestly, don’t do it. It’s requires a whole more commitment and learning as anything else.

I would recommend you to use Adobe Brackets. It is simple, clean and runs smoothly. It may not be as reliable as VS Code and not as customizable as Atom, but it’s a good mix overall. Git integration is good, it’s easy to configure and customize a little bit and of course, the live-preview feature is amazing. But whatever you do, don’t throw 70 dollars.

Did I made the wrong decision? Write me in the comments.

21y/o student from Austria (not Australia). I truly believe there are no boring projects. There are only boring executions! 🙌 💻 ☕

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