Text Editors

The choice of text editor is a very personal thing, especially for a programmer. If you are going to spend several hours a day working with a program then you had better make the correct choice! The correct text editor can make a huge difference in programming productivity. However, in order to get the full benefits the programmer has to put in the time to learn the editor well enough that the major commands are in muscle memory and can be executed without thinking about them. This means that changing editors involves a significant investment in time and effort.

In the early days of my programming career I used the Brief editor under DOS and grew to know and love its key bindings. When the world moved on to Microsoft Windows, I moved onto CodeWright but still using the Brief key bindings. These days at work I am not doing as much programming but can still use CodeWright pretty well when required.

At home I generally use Linux on my computers and so can’t use the Windows specific editors that I use at work. When moving to Linux, I looked at what editors were available and decided to use of the big open source contenders so that I knew that it would be able to do anything that I needed and that support would never be a problem.

I never really considered VIM as I could never get on with the modal nature of vi when I used it at university. For a while now I have been using emacs and getting on OK with it but I have never got in to using the emacs specific keys for cursor movement, I still use the arrow keys etc. This means that I am not getting the full “move your hand as little as possible” efficiency. Recently, for this reason and general curiosity I decided to have another look at the text editors available in the Linux space.

The available editors have not changed much since the last time that I looked. The one editor that I have now tried is Sublime Text 2.

Sublime is a very good editor with some unique facilities but I was put off spending significant time learning it fully because it is not free / open source. There appears to be a slowdown in the pace of development of Sublime and this is worrying. The author could could stop development of the editor at any time and there would be no chance for the community to take over.

For now I have decided to stick with emacs and take the time to learn the cursor movement keys and at the same time brush up on my touch typing skills!