Adam Friedl

A Parade of Text Editors

I suspect that many folks attracted to programming share this trait, but long before I ever read a line of code, I was particular about my “tools.” I’d spend hours trying different pens, or search all over town for a notebook with just the right size, binding, paper thickness and ruling (dot grid, anyone?). And occasionally I’d find a setup that really made me happy, although I could never shake the idea that there might be something out there just a little bit better.

When I got interested in coding a few years back, the only text editor I knew of was Text Wranger. That’s what this guy at work used, and I thought he must be a genius coder (later I realized that he’d never learned CSS and laid out web pages with HTML tables). I started watching lots of web tutorials online, and it wasn’t long before I saw someone open Sublime Text (he just called it “Sublime,” because he was cool like that). And I soon found that Sublime Text was in fact pretty awesome. You could spend (waste(?)) days perusing all the different extensions and options.

As great as Sublime Text was, though, I always had my eye out for something better. When I finally got serious about coding and attended an immersive program, they recommended Atom, which was the new-ish kid on the block. I used it for most of a year and it has a lot to recommend it: it’s free (which Sublime Text definitely wasn’t), open-source, built by Github. What’s not to like? Well, mainly that it’s painfully slow to start up and hangs often… So when I saw one of my coding heroes using Visual Studio Code, you know what happened next.

VS Code is the best text editor I’ve come across. It’s quick and flexible. It has a seamless integrated terminal and a robust ecosystem of extensions. As someone who currently writes mostly JavaScript, I find its version of tools like ESLint, Prettier, npm Intellisense, as well as snazzy visuals like VS Code Great Icons, to be easy to incorporate.

Is there still something better out there? Probably! Let me know what you think.

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