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5 Code Editors Every New Developer Should Know About

There are many different editors out there. Here I show you how they differ and why you might need more than one.

Illustration of five text editors: sublime text, atom, codepen, colaboratory, jetbrains by Ruben A Sanchez.
Illustration by Author

In this very short post I will briefly highlight 5 text editors that I have come to use and enjoy on a daily basis.

“What is the best text editor?”

For many brand new developers one of the first questions asked is along the lines “What editor should I use?” or “What is the best text editor?”. And very eagerly someone will respond. Then someone else will also respond. Before you know it you have a long list of editors and you are trying to narrow that list down to the one perfect editor.

Spoiler — there is no one perfect editor.

This is not meant to discourage you. It is meant to liberate you.

“You wouldn’t wear the same clothes . . . would you”

Instead of fretting over finding an editor that’s mediocre at meeting all your needs why not find an editor that excels at fulfilling one of your needs. If all you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails. So instead I suggest finding a specialized tool for a specialized purpose. You wouldn’t wear the same clothes when you’re getting married as when your going surfing would you.

So that is exactly what I have done. I have curated a list of 5 text editors each specialized for a particular purpose based on its strengths. I briefly give you its use case, followed by its top 3 qualities, and a link to download or access.

Sublime Text

An illustration of the desktop display of the sublime text editor floating in a blue room by Ruben A. Sanchez.
Sublime Text Illustration by Author

Lightweight and fast. Sublime Text is my go to editor when inspiration strikes. It boots up in an instant so I can quickly write down those fleeting coding gems.

Top Perks

  • fast start up
  • loads of plugins
  • available for Linux, macOS, and Windows

Get it here:


An illustration of the Atom text editor floating in a blue room by Ruben A. Sanchez.
Atom Illustration by Author

For small projects I turn to the Atom editor. I mostly use it for web development. It lends itself very well for organizing my projects just as I want them.

Top Perks

  • fully customize-able
  • many packages
  • integrates easily with GitHub

Get it here:


An illustration of the CodePen web interface floating in a blue room by Ruben A. Sanchez.
CodePen Illustration by Author

When I’m feeling extra social I go to CodePen. It’s a web based code editor with a real-time display for web development. I use it to test code samples, showcase some animations, and get inspiration from the active community.

Top Perks

  • fully web based
  • monthly challenges
  • searchable topics

Get it here:

Google Colaboratory

A Google Colab illustration of its web interface floating in a blue room by Ruben A. Sanchez.
Google Colaboratory Illustration by Author

When I need to work on machine learning or NLP projects I turn to Google Colaboratory. It runs on Jupyter Notebooks so no need to install anything locally. Since I use Python for all my AI projects this web based service fits my needs nicely.

Top Perks

  • combine rich text and executable code within the same document
  • many libraries available such as TensorFlow and PyTorch
  • access to Google’s GPUs and TPUs

Get it here:


Illustration of a JetBrains IDE floating in a blue room by Ruben A. Sanchez.
JetBrains Illustration by Author

For large projects I prefer something more robust than a text editor. JetBrains offers a fully featured integrated development environment (IDE). An IDE is a lot more powerful than a basic text or code editor. In addition to syntax highlighting and auto completion found in most editors it includes development tools such as debugging, variable scope, and refactoring.

Top Perks

  • dedicated IDE for preferred language
  • community edition
  • JetBrains Academy — for learning

Get it here:

I haven’t covered all the editors and IDEs that exist out there. These are just a few that I have used and liked.

I hope you see that choosing an editor is a very subjective choice. And that’s OK. Feel free to explore and try out different text editors. Just make sure to make your choices based on your own personal needs and goals. Don’t let someone else impose their preferences onto you. We are all unique, that’s part of what makes getting to know each other so much fun.

What are your personal favourites? Comment and share below.

Thank you for reading.

If there is something you want me to write about tweet me your suggestion.




I’m a cognitive neuroscience researcher investigating how our brains perceive and understand the sounds of language.

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Ruben A Sanchez

Ruben A Sanchez

Researcher in cognitive neuroscience and phonetic linguistics. Gleefully tutoring, mentoring, and learning.

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