Editor Wars: Picking the Right Tool for the Job

As the development application space has undergone a Cambrian explosion of sorts, it’s easy to feel like we are drowning in tools. Since this time last year, I’ve worked within a dizzying number of editing applications. I’ve tried newcomers like Atom.ioLightTable, ShiftEdit, and Koding, as well as established editors Xcode, Visual Studio, DreamWeaver, Sublime Text, and WebStorm. I’ve even experimented with throwback editors like Emacs and Nano. Click here for a full list. When it comes to choosing an editor, the task is a highly subjective one (see: Vim vs. Emacs editor wars and this). Most editors include:

  • Text Formatting
  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Bracket Matching
  • Window Splitting
  • Multiple Selections

It’s important to distinguish a text editor from an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). An IDE is a text editor but also includes things like:

  • FTP control
  • Live code preview
  • Console log
  • Built in MySQL management

These additional tools come come at a cost of flexibility and ease of use.  For many, the time to learn a new IDE can be significant which may or may not be worth it in the long run. Ultimately, you should choose the editor that makes you most efficient. If an editor can save you a few seconds on common tasks, those efficiency gains amount to extra hours in your week. Again, see Vim vs. Emacs editor wars. Over the next few months, I’ll be posting reviews to each of the editors mentioned above. Stayed tuned!