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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Making Your Choice

Choosing the best text editor for you depends on your preferences (and your willingness to pay), as well as the project you are working on. I use Vim for most of my coding, but I use IntelliJ when I write Java code, and I use Xcode when I work on iOS apps. The following overview of text editors should help you make your decision.

Sublime Text

  • Sublime Text has a wide array of plug-ins that can help make you more productive. It is easy to use and has an attractive (dare I say sublime?) user interface.
  • It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • Sublime Text is a good choice for beginners. It is simple and intuitive, and it follows many of the conventions you are familiar with from using a word processor.
  • A Sublime Text license costs $70, but you can try it for free.
  • Sublime Text is a simple text editor, not a full-fledged IDE.
  • You can download Sublime from http://www.sublimetext.com/.


  • TextMate and Sublime Text have many of the same plug-ins—a plug-in for one usually works with the other. TextMate is easy to learn and easy to use.
  • It is available only on Mac.
  • As with Sublime Text, TextMate is a good choice for beginners. You can get started and be productive without needing to learn anything new.
  • A TextMate license costs $55, but you can try it for free.
  • TextMate is a simple text editor, not a full-fledged IDE.
  • You can download TextMate from http://macromates.com/.


  • Notepad++ is a great option if you are using Windows. The “++” (pronounced “plus plus”) comes from the programming language C++; the idea is that C++ is like C, but better—so Notepad++ is like Notepad, but better.
  • It is available only on Windows.
  • Notepad++ is easy to use and great for beginners.
  • Notepad++ is free.
  • NotePad++ is a simple text editor, not a full-fledged IDE.
  • You can download Notepad++ from http://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/.


  • Gedit is a good basic editor, but it’s not as visually appealing as some of the other editors. If you’re using Linux, it is probably already installed.
  • It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • Gedit is easy to use and easy to learn.
  • Gedit is free.
  • Gedit is a simple text editor, not a full-fledged IDE.
  • You can download Gedit from https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Gedit/.


  • Vim takes a while to learn, but once you know what you’re doing, you can work quickly, with a wide range of shortcuts and plug-ins. Additionally, Vim is compatible with nearly every operating system and is often already installed, so working on an unfamiliar OS is less unfamiliar when you use Vim. I used to be afraid of Vim, but now it’s my favorite editor.
  • It is available on nearly every operating system ever created (it comes preinstalled on Mac OS X and Linux, but you have to install it yourself on Windows). Vim is like a cockroach: It can survive nearly anywhere, and it will still be around long after the rest of us are gone.
  • Vim is not easy to learn and is probably not a great editor for beginners. If you want to learn Vim, though, you can find plenty of resources, including a built-in tutorial (type vimtutor on the command line).
  • Vim is free.
  • Vim is a simple text editor, not a full-fledged IDE.
  • You can download Vim from www.vim.org/download.php if it’s not already installed.


  • Eclipse is a full-featured IDE generally used for Java programming. If you are working on a Java project, this is a great choice.
  • It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • Eclipse is not particularly easy for beginners to start using because it is far more than a simple text editor. However, learning to program Java using Eclipse or IntelliJ is much easier than using one of the simple text editors listed previously.
  • Eclipse is free.
  • Eclipse is an IDE focused on Java development.
  • You can download Eclipse from www.eclipse.org/downloads/.


  • IntelliJ is a full-featured IDE for Java that is a bit more lightweight (and, arguably, better looking) than Eclipse. IntelliJ also offers support for other languages, such as Scala and JavaScript.
  • It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • IntelliJ is about as easy to learn as Eclipse.
  • IntelliJ is available in a free Community Edition. A license for the Ultimate Edition costs $199.
  • IntelliJ is a full-featured IDE.
  • You can download IntelliJ from www.jetbrains.com/idea/.


  • If you are writing an iOS or Mac OS X app, Xcode is the IDE for you. Xcode is an IDE built by Apple for the purpose of building software for Apple platforms.
  • It is available only on Mac.
  • Xcode is not easy to learn, but Apple has extensive documentation and you can find a lot of community support. If you want to learn to build iPhone apps, you need to learn to use Xcode.
  • Xcode is free.
  • You can download Xcode from https://developer.apple.com/xcode/ or the Mac App Store.

Visual Studio

  • Visual Studio is a full-featured IDE mostly used for .NET development (C#, Visual Basic, and so on), but it can also be used for other languages.
  • It is available only on Windows.
  • Visual Studio is as easy to learn as any other full-featured IDE—not too easy.
  • Visual Studio is available for free as an Express Edition, which is both good and usable. The paid editions of Visual Studio range in price from $1,200 to $13,300.
  • You can download or purchase Visual Studio from www.visualstudio.com/downloads/download-visual-studio-vs.

I haven’t mentioned all the editors here, but this list should be enough to get you started. For the purposes of this book, I recommend Sublime Text (unless you have experience with one of the other editors). Sublime Text is more than good enough for our purposes and is easy to start using.

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