RE: What Editor Do You Use?

Today my good friend asked me what editor I prefer to use for programming. He doesn’t know the difference between an IDE and an editor, so we’ll just use the word ‘editor’ in this case to mean both. We’ve all been asked this question a few dozen times, and I usually answer this question with a sort of lazy “use whatever you like” type of answer. Partially because I’m lazy but mostly because if the person asking is in the vi or the Emacs camp, I know I can save myself an entire half hour of arguing — simply by sticking with this answer.

Strangely enough, I had just watched the funfunfunction episode on this exact topic and felt vindicated and even empowered to some degree, so I decided to give my best possible reply.


My requirements are very minimal. An editor has to have:

  • a tree viewer
  • a dark ui or theme
  • code folding that works
  • a ‘find in all files’ function
  • syntax highlighting (obviously)

And that’s it. I’m not big on plugins, I don’t care for linters (although they can be useful) — I just like to roll naked.

For The Generic Dev Stuffs

My requirements leave me with a few good choices: Sublime Text 3 being my first choice, with Atom coming in a close second. Sublime is just rock solid — I’ve never had a single issue with it. At just 8MB for the installer, Sublime is less than a tenth the size of the Atom installer, and that can be useful in some instances. Sublime and Atom both have versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux… but only Sublime has a portable version. On top of everything else, Sublime covers all of the languages I code in, with one exception…

For .NET Thingies

As great as Sublime is, Microsoft’s Visual Studio is a no-brainer for anything and everything .NET- and Microsoft-y. I use it often when writing C# scripts in Unity, or when I’m building Windows executables. I like it but I try to steer clear of ReSharper, even though it does have quite a few excellent features. If your machine is not absolutely spec’d out, it will slow Visual Studio down, and that’s just no fun at all! One of my favorite things about Visual Studio is the code folding regions! As a matter of fact, I like just about everything in Visual Studio, the only thing I really dislike is autocomplete — most times it just messes me up rather than helping me along.

For Plain Ol’ Text Editing

For this I will always use Notepad++ and I know, it’s Windows only, but Linux and Mac users have a nice terminal/console/cli that can be used to do most of the things that I use Notepad++ for. I really enjoy that they allow regex in the find/replace window and their macro recording and playback functions.

When You Only Have A CLI

Maybe you broke something. Maybe you just ssh’d into a server. Maybe you’re going super-minimalist with your Gentoo install. Maybe you just want to look like a hacker from any movie about hackers… Whichever it is, if you give me a box with nothing but a CLI, I’m going to default to nano or pico. Neither is better than the other, in my opinion, but they have what I need: typing, tabbing, and saving.

Conclusions, Maybe

Still, after all of that nonsense, it’s up to you. Maybe I helped a little, maybe I didn’t help at all, although I do hope for the former. If you’re starting out in a web developer type of role, definitely give Sublime a chance.

Side note: If you’re looking for really specific stuff, like iOS or Android development, that’s a bit out of my range. I would probably just use Xcode for iOS development and Eclipse or Android Studio for Android development.


It was brought to my attention that Visual Studio, Xcode, Eclipse, and Android Studio are really IDEs, and I knew this, but I didn’t want to go too deep and confuse anyone that might be new to this area — but then again I probably shouldn’t assume that they would get confused so easily either.

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