What editor do you use?

I’ve been working with the web for almost 9 years now, and I’ve encountered a spectrum of web developers and their preferred tools during that time. Therefore, it’s always interesting to ask for someone’s favorite editor.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of IDEs because, most of the time, they contain way too many things that I don’t need, they become slow to work with, and in the worst cases, you don’t have a 100% control.

Therefore, I have always liked plain editors for writing code that is completely clean without any “smart” formatting added, code adapted etc. I want tools that just help me to easily insert snippets for code I use all the time, and for closing HTML tags. It has to contain a wealth of keyboard shortcuts, that can be attached to the snippets, and it should also be extremely simple to link a piece of text and insert an image.

My choices

It depends on what platform I work on, but these are my favorite editors (of which I strongly recommend all of them):

On a PC

Macromedia HomeSite

I’ve used HomeSite since 1998 and most of the time I have been very content with it. It’s plain and simple, yet very flexible to adapt to your needs. When I started using it, it was produced by a company called Allaire, which was then acquired by Macromedia back in 2001 (practically killing off the development of a great tool).

TopStyle

TopStyle is an editor for CSS editing, with some nice auto-completion, collapsible style rules etc. Not as stable as HomeSite (although it has/had great potential), it was originally created by Nick Bradbury but acquired by NewsGator in 2005. Here, as well, it pretty much put the evolution of this tool to a halt.

On a Mac

TextMate

My latest love, since about a year or so ago, is TextMate. It’s a simple yet extremely powerful editor, which supports a treasure chest of snippets (called bundles), which you can also tweak and adapt to your every need.

What’s your poison?

What’s your favorite editor? Which software can’t you just live without when developing a fantastic web site?

89 Comments

  • I'm still a Macromedia Dreamweaver user. Of course, just in Code View. It suits my needs very well and I have yet to come across something better for Windows.

    This recently release Coda thing for the Mac certainly looks interesting though.

  • Remy Sharp says:

    My toolbox consists of: TextMate, Cyberduck, Terminal and Firebug.

    I just had a dabble in Coda, but quickly found the text editor is nowhere near TextMate – and that's where the real power developing happens for me.

  • bruce says:

    At work it's Dreamweaver MX 06, but at home I'm weaning myself off pricey software so use Firebug, Notepad++ and that's pretty much all i need.

  • alltudedd says:

    I find I need little more than Firefox(Web Developer Toolbar & Firebug), Terminal, Cyberduck and TextMate.

    Oh yes, and the clunky old PC by the side of me for testing in IE!

  • Mark Perkins says:

    Textmate all the way. There is no way that I could use anything else anymore!

    I just love the way that you can customise the bundles to fit exactly with how you write code – once you have spent some time setting it all up it really begins to feel like an extension of yourself.

    I guess the effort involved in customising it to fit your coding style might put people off to start with though – it can seem a little intimidating until you 'get it'.

  • I use Eclipse with a SVN plugin, the Zend PHP plugin and Aptana for front-end stuff.

    Most of the functionality comes from the plugins.

    – It is all 100% What You See Is What You Type

    – It's free.

    – The SVN plugin (subclipse) let's you do all your versioning stuff in the application.

    – The PHP and Aptana plugins also hint for your own code and parse your code and inform you of parsing errors (like many spellcheckers do).

    – It should be able to handle (s)FTP.

    – Multi-platform

    – PHP plugin had the ability for shortcuts for code (type "elif" get "} else if {"). Aptana has actions in the form of JS scripting.

    The only downsides are that it is bit resource intensive, it requires some fiddling to get going.

    (bit off-topic: maybe allow for lists in comments?)

  • Rob kirton says:

    Dreamweaver 8 – Code view. only really use it for site wide management and global changes.

    Notepad++ does the job more often than not.

  • Mark Lennox says:

    I use Ubuntu Linux – the best editor I have found so far is Bluefish which is fairly similar to HomeSite in a lot of ways.

    I have used Eclipse also but it just feels a bit overblown for anything but Java – even then…

    I also work on windows for ASP.NET development and there I use the fantastic SharpDevelop and EditPlus

  • I use practically the same setup as Sjors Rijsdam; Eclipse with the SVN-, PHPEclipse and Aptana plugins.

    I must say the learning curve is probably a bit higher than other apps, but once it's all set up, it works like a charm.

  • Maaike says:

    I'm a happy Dreamweaver user (code view, duh). I like the site manager and the ftp functionality and code hints and autocompletion and stuff.

  • fatihturan says:

    I'm using <a>Pspad and Komodo Edit.

  • Chris says:

    I use eclipse with various plugins, like Sjors.

  • stefan says:

    I'm a big fan of the Zend Studio IDE. I don't really see any of the stuff you write about IDE's in Zend Studio. It's not slow (it can be, but Zend has a solution for that, so all you need to do is contact their customer service). It gives you 100% control. And alot of features you *will* use if you know how to use them. Zend studio makes my life so much easier.

  • Goulven says:

    I love the simplicity and relaxing colors of Programmer's Notepad, and it has been my faithfull companion for years now. It's completely free, extensible, and still improving.

    Particularly important to me are syntax coloring, code folding, and code explorer (which it does perfectly). It supports snippet collections in a sidebar, magic folders, REGEXP search, and it now offers to close tags unobtrusively. There's plenty more under the hood but I haven't yet needed it. Best of all, nothing keeps it from being ultra-quick. If you like Komodo, you should love pnotepad… πŸ™‚

    The only drawback about it is the lack of FTP/SCP. Because of that I use PSPad at work, and that beast is unbearable (tab screwing, ugly colors, no code folding, irresponsive code explorer, just to mention the worst). But it does active FTP, unlike the otherwise pleasant Komodo…

  • I long worked with Dreamweaver since it supported a bit of PHP!

    Now at work I just develop using the ZEND IDE! It's by far the best IDE for developping OOP based PHP-Applications.

    The downside: it does not know what to do with CSS. It really only know PHP (awesomely well) and HTML (for some code completion, very useful).

    It works great with FTP too.

  • Sometimes I really think that Robert is my evil twin … when I was a windows user, I used HomeSite, dabbled with TopStyle, worked a bit with Aptana (but was never really comfortable with Eclipse based IDE's) … and now I am happily coding away in TextMate. THANK YOU ALLAN ODGAARD!

    … or maybe I am Robert's evil twin πŸ˜‰

  • Daniel says:

    Vim is really awesome. Once you've discovered things like :split and trained yourself to actually use the handy commands it comes with, you're really fast.

    So tools are:

    screen, vim, irb, firebug and web developer bar

  • I use gvim, on all platforms, for all code.

  • J. Bradford says:

    Dw Code View, since '99

  • akella says:

    at first i was using TopStyle, but now im editing all the HTML/CSS/JS staff with the brilliant Notepad++. It's more than 2 years since i started using np++

  • David Rodger says:

    Mac: jedit for PHP and HTML, Stylemaster for CSS

    Linux: KDevelop for PHP, Quanta for HTML, CSS and HTML with embedded PHP. Tried Komodo Edit and it's great, but it gets slower and slower with each suspend to disk and the license only lasts 30-something days, despite its being a free version.

  • Deborah says:

    I started with Notepad years ago, and then moved to Dreamweaver (code view) to help with site management.

    Dreamweaver has continued to be my main editor as I expanded my skill set to include ColdFusion and PHP. I use Notepad2 frequently as well.

  • Mike says:

    I am a fan of TopStyle. It leaves me wanting sometimes, but I still go back to it day after day. I appreciate that it is relatively lightweight.

  • Adam Fletcher says:

    I've always envied Mac users just for TextMate.

    I still haven't found to perfect editor on a PC. I've used both TopStyle and PSPad in the past.

    I recently discovered E – TextEditor which is the closest to TextMate I've found for a PC.

  • I am currently using Dreamweaver (code view) and I am more or less satisfied with it.

    I see that it does has too many features I don't use, but I find autocompleting is poor, and I think interesting CASE features are missing (or maybe it's me, I couldn't find them yet).

    I use eclipse for Java and C coding at work and I think with the right plugin is probably better than Dreamweaver.

    I used it for a little while about a year ago, but I avoid to have it at home because it may be a little too much for my already overloaded MacMini…

    Maybe after an upgrade.

  • PC: Visual Studio 2005, Notepad++

    Apple: Textmate (but seriously considering a switch to Coda)

  • I have been using Crimson Editor for a few years now.

  • Olly says:

    Oooh, redesign πŸ™‚

    I'm with you Robert. TopStyle on Windows (by Nick Bradbury, who was also behind HomeSite) and TextMate on the Mac (by Allan Oddgard, who wrote several of the utilities I used back in my AmigaOS days).

  • Duluoz says:

    I'm a big fan of Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.

  • Jens says:

    PC: Homesite for remote (ftp) editing. Locally I use scite/scintilla.

  • Andy says:

    Adobe Photoshop for graphical development. Then I code everything in notepad. It serves my needs well.

  • Neil Gall says:

    I think it's a key developer skill to be able to get things done with whatever is available. For quick edits you can't beat vim; on Unix platforms emacs is generally available and I'll edit in it all day if necessary; Eclipse is my IDE of choice; on Windows I like Notepad2; on OS X I've used Xcode, Smultron or just TextEdit.

  • Alejandro Moreno says:

    I cannot stand VStudio, but I have to use it, as we develop in .Net around here. But I only use it for aspx and vb files.

    For everything else, Notepad++ FTW.

  • kenman says:

    Edit+ for me.

    I've tried to ditch it about 5 times, and each time I come crawling back, usually finding out more about it each time I do. The highlights/reasons I use it are:

    * easy integration with outside tools; for instance, I have a hotkey to run whatever file I have open through php.exe. I have another hotkey to search my downloaded copy of PHP.net's documentation for the context under the mouse, and another hotkey to do the same yet on php.net instead of locally.

    * find/replace in files

    * basic regular expression support (you can get full PCRE support but it requires a sort of hack)

    * lightweight. currently, with 20 files open, it is using 1.6 mb (VM size is 30mb)

    * SFTP

  • Carl says:

    EditPad Pro for me on Windows. Sometimes Dreamweaver. When I'm in Linux it's definitely EditPad Pro again or Bluefish.

  • David says:

    Robert, since you're a longtime Homesite user (I too started using it back then), you may remember that Nick Bradbury also wrote Homesite before selling it to Allaire.

    Now I use HTML-Kit, Topstyle, Coffee Cup, depending on my mood.

  • brent says:

    Crimsoneditor on PC

    emacs on *nix

  • Hates_ says:

    If you like Textmate but run Windows, then it's all about "e-texteditor":

    http://www.e-texteditor.com/

  • I've been using Emacs at the current job (ancient BSD systems) and JEdit at home (NWN2 came out so I'm having some time on Windows). Next week I start a new job and will be switching to Mac, so I've been putting together a collection of tools to try. I'll probably end up on Aquamacs or continue with JEdit though. There are a lot of £40 text editors for Mac that people rave about, but I've never found them to be all that wonderful myself.

  • Sergey says:

    Eclipse and free Notepad++ is my choice. Though Eclipse has a number of fancy plugins, it may become slow and unstable when you install some of them. So I prefer pure Eclipse for Java files and Notepad++ for JavaScript, CSS, HTML, JSP, XML & C++ files.

  • Tom says:

    If it's text-based, I use TextMate. Period.

    Hey, that isn't a half bad marketing line… time to go sell it!

  • SpookyET says:

    E Text Editor

    It's a TextMate clone for Windows.

    Keep an eye on InType as well.

  • RobertDM says:

    I started out using Homestyle and topstyle, but finally switched to dreamweaver because it meant less switching between apps and I really like the sitemanager. (what's al this about using dreamweaver in code view? are there other options? πŸ˜‰ )

  • What no-one uses editplus!? Its all I use at work and at home.

    Its got a tiny footprint but has all the features I need: FTP, syntax highlighting, matching brace highlighting, regex support, automatic backups…and well thats all I need πŸ™‚

    Oh and with a few tweaks it can run from a portable device.

    All other developers in the studio use HTMLKit but it just seems to be too much of a resource hog and has too many features I would never use. So I stick to what I know

  • Megan says:

    On Windows:

    Mostly Dreamweaver, switching between WYSIWYG and code view. I seem to be one of the few who believes that DW can do the easy stuff just as well as I can (basic structural markup). I do all the hard parts in code viewe though.

    I also keep Notepad ++ on hand for small jobs.

    On Linux:

    Bluefish, mainly because I heard it was good and haven't had a chance to shop around much yet.

    I've also started using Amaya for coding long content pieces and I'm happy with it for that purpose. Copy & paste from Open Office and most of the work is done πŸ™‚ Not so good for more complex design though, and can be a little buggy.

  • Mordechai Peller says:

    Back in my Windows days, I started with Homesite, which was great, and later TopStyle Pro, which was the best I've used to date. The ideal would probably be 80% TopStyle and 15% Homesite.

    I've since switched to Linux. I used Quatra for a while. It's good, but sometimes got in my way. I've tried using TopStyle with Wine, but was disappointed. I've tried Scream, but didn't like it. CSSed is OK, but not great, and it only really handles CSS.

    Now, for editing, I use Bluefish. It's a little light in some areas, like CSS, but at least it doesn't get in my way. Also, it looks like some of the biggest weaknesses will be fixed in up coming releases.

    For debugging I use Firefox with Firebug, Web Developer's Toolbar, and Tamper Data (for headers), for FTP I use Konqueror, and for testing in #@%!&$, ies4linux.

    One problem I noticed with all editors, except TopStyle, which do more than just text highlighting, is that they feel more geared towards old school than standards. In Bluefish, for example, most of the menus are useless.

  • Aldrik says:

    On Linux I use Quanta Plus and Kate. When I used Windows I was a big fan of PSPad.

    PS. That e-texteditor dose looks very nice, will have to give it a try some time.

  • Jens says:

    Eclipse and textpad. Managing a project in eclipse is so much easier than flipping through desktop windows or editor tabs.

  • John Meyer says:

    Windows: Visual Studio 2k3 / UltraEdit

    *nix: vi / vim

  • Lengani says:

    Vim. On all platforms. I like the fact you can easily tweak it as desired and its quite powerful. The time investment is worth it, though maybe someone can come up with a web dev configuration similar to Cream to ease this. It also seems to be in line with your preferences. Haven't been tempted away by the new editors yet (though they are cool!) . Well worth a try!

  • JMC says:

    Vim for everything. I can't believe all these people use so many different editors for such similar tasks. You shouldn't have to use a single editor for writing a damn CSS file (especially CSS, c'mon) and another for HTML.

  • PC and Notepad all the way πŸ™‚

  • Devon Young says:

    I still trust notepad best. I'm a minimalist sometimes.

  • Jenn says:

    I believe Notepad++ (for PC) is hands-down the best staight editor I've ever used. It just does what I need and makes me far more productive. However, I am actually a Mac person. I've used BBEdit for years and switched to Textmate a few months ago. They both suck compared to Notepad++. Textmate's bundles are cool, but functionality I consider basic like search/replace, folding, bookmarking etc. just aren't THERE yet. Things like highlighting all the matches on a page, searching for certain special characters, etc. Or the fact that I can't have all my pages open in a tabbed window, I have to create a project first. Why?! I also can't seem to get it to override a file's type. My pref is set for UTF8, LF but it blithely saves files as whatever. It annoys me constantly. BBEdit sucks for some similar reasons, and also the pathetic syntax highlighting.

    I've considered buying parallels just so I can run Notepad++.

  • Pat says:

    EditPlus v2.01b.. I haven't even bothered to upgrade πŸ˜€ Love it, best little editor out there that lets you customize just about everything, including customized code completion during typing, custom templates to get your project started and so much more! Makes my life easy as hell. Although I have noticed it crashes if you try to load a huge text file. I have to use windows notepad if that's the case, but it's quite rare I open big honking text files haha.

    PS.. Robert, that flickering in your textbox is back again πŸ™ It lags when you type and it's extremely annoying.

  • Tommy Olsson says:

    Vim on Linux (home) and Windows (work).

  • Erik says:

    On mac:

    skEdit (code-hinting, text snippets, the lot).

    Coda looks promising, but the general lack of keyboard shortcuts (even for the text "clips"!) is a bit of a disappointment.

    I would love to use Textmate, but since I work in Japan I need proper support for unicode and Japanese text-encodings.

    Windows:

    Visual Studio

    Sakura Editor

  • Robin says:

    Tedpad on PC – it’s fast and has a good regular expression find&replace. Pity about the lack of Unicode support though. On my Mac at home I generally use Smultron as it seems like it’s got a good future.

  • Erik: Coda doesn't lack keyboard shortcuts in fact. Click on the "i" button and set your shortcut on the "backside". This was a showstopper for me since I live in Textmate at the moment.

  • Teddy Zetterlund says:

    The only text editor I'm using is Textmate. I don't see the point of all these CSS editors like Top Style and CSSEdit.

    If I would get stuck on a Windows machine I would give E – TextEditor (The power of Textmate on Windows) a try.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Wow, thanks for all the feedback! Good to know about alternatives and what people think of them. I also must say that I'm a bit surprised to see so many Dreamweaver and VIM. I thought the first was practically dead and that the latter was too hardcore.

    I know about Nick Bradbury and HomeSite as well, and I think it's a shame that his programs don't seem to get same amount of development/progress as before.

    Sjors,

    Maybe I should allow lists. However, the way it is now is WordPress default, so it's easy to maintain and upgrade.

    Morgan,

    Ah, good taste, my evil twin! πŸ™‚

  • Mac: Smultron and Vim.

    Windows: Vim or HomeSite and TopStyle

    I like in Vim to have darke color sheme, it´s esy to change it in Vim.

    I think i will try TextMate som day on my Mac.

  • I only use Vim, everywhere and on every OS.

  • pcdinh says:

    I use Zend Studio for PHP Development, Netbeans IDE for Java coding, Top Style for CSS designing and Dreamweaver for HTML authoring.

  • Erik says:

    Anton,

    as far as I can see the shortcuts only work as type-something-and-press-tab and your "clip" shows up, which won't work for wrapping a selection with your "clip"(works if you double click the "clip" though), which is what I spend a lot of time doing – tagging text πŸ™‚ But if I have missed something, please let me know, since I sort of bought it just now.

  • My main editors are jEdit (customized with tons of plugins) and EasyEclipse PHP edition + Aptana.

    I like jEdit for its simplicity and customizability — it's basically as complicated and feature-laden as you want to make it, no more and no less. I like the Aptana plugin for Eclipse, because it provides nice code hierarchies for all the front-end Web stuff and treats JavaScript like a first-class programming language. Eclipse is also handy for projects where I'm working with both back-end PHP and front-end HTML, CSS, and JS.

    I haven't really decided on a "favorite" yet. Eclipse sometimes seems clumsy and unwieldy, while jEdit's language handling feels underpowered next to Eclipse.

    I've considered trying Komodo Edit, especially since "code intelligence" files (highlighting and completion) have been released for WordPress and Textpattern. I think I might be reaching my limit for editor-hopping, though. Better to be productive with what you know than to lose time fiddling with something new.

  • Jens Meiert says:

    Always and forever: IDEA. Since 2001.

  • Walter says:

    I always use vim or gvim.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for sharing, guys!

  • I've become a big fan of Aptana recently. I just have to go off and make a coffee while it loads every morning…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Stuart,

    Ha ha. πŸ™‚

  • Karl says:

    Dreamweaver here. Mind you, I only use code view and the bit where it automagically cascades file name changes throughout the project. Rather a memory hog for just that to be honest lol.

  • Aldrik says:

    Oh yeah and vim (of course :))!

    There's a great FF extention for all you die hard users… Vimperator (yet another reason why web accessibility is so important).

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Karl, Aldrik,

    Thanks!

  • michael mckee says:

    I gave TextMate a solid try and can see why people love it. It is brilliant. I've just used BBEdit for too long to be comfortable in anything else, and it's brilliant, too, in its own way. Of course I've set key bindings to all the included clippings and have added many of my own. I've also used system preferences to add keystrokes to the menu based features I use most frequently as well as a few shell scripts. Once you use a program long enough to customize it thoroughly and have the key strokes hardwired into your fingers, switching to something new is painful.

    Dreamweaver is useful for updating static sites and for its site management features. I use it for those tasks, as well as when I'm stuck working in Windows. But it is elegant as a hippo out of water, Mac or Windows.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    michael,

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Daniel Larsson says:

    JEdit and Vi.

  • wioota says:

    And here I am reading this in FeedDemon – Nick Bradbury has written 3 of my most used Applications. It would be great if someone could supply him with an army of monkeys to maintain his earlier applications as well as he does with FeedDemon.

    Personally these days I have moved to Eclipse because I jump between PHP, JS, CSS, templates…. Oh and subversion is one of the key development tools – nothing builds confidence like version control.

  • Alex Leonard says:

    I love notepad++

    I've tried countless other editors, and none of them come close to it. It's fast and easy to use and alter. Some of the plugins are fantastic too. Quick text is brilliant (although I have moved all my quick text shortcuts over to Lifehacker's Texter developed by Adam Pash, their senior editor.

    The other major tool I use is Stylemaster from WestCiv which was a boon right from the start and I have found that it has consistently saved me time with CSS editing and development.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Daniel, wioota, Alex,

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Holy crap. I can't believe that out of all these people, there aren't more HTML-Kit fans out there. Unfortunately, Chami has started developing the pay-only "HTML-Kit Tools" but their last free version of HTML-Kit (good ol' build 292) is one awesome piece of software.

    Why?

    Integrated FTP tree – This is the biggie, you have treeviews of your FTP connections and can open them and edit remote pages on several different connections at one time. You double click a file… it downloads the file and you work on a temp file. Press "save" and it uploads your changes.

    Tabs: Multi-document with tabs.

    Context-coloring: For HTML/PHP/CSS/ASP and mixed.

    Bluefish, and all the other otherwise awesome text editors don't have integrated FTP so you have to have another app open you switch back and forth with.

    Vim is cool for editing remote files, but I don't have tabs to switch between multiple remote documents (and the ability to view all the document names while I'm working).

    It's basically like a free version of HomeSite. It's basically like Dreamweaver with code view but you can work on multiple sites at the same time. It's not QUITE as slick as HomeSite… but it's free.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Daniel,

    Thanks for the tips!

  • howbizarre says:

    Notepad ++ and FrontPage

  • Michael says:

    Strange… Doesn’t any use Ultraedit?

    I’m also using Homesite – and have been using homesite since hmm… around 1996-7-8 I think… It still works fine!

    Just so strange with Homesite. It’s so great a program but at the same time it’s sooo lousy to save proper xml-files and UT8. Took me a long time to realise that it was a bug in Homesite… so sometimes I’m switching to Ultraedit just to save…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Michael,

    John (above) uses it as well.

  • cl0s says:

    I use Ubuntu and basically all I need is Bluefish for coding (PHP). It's very similar to what Homesite on code edit mode was. Only thing missing is an svn plug-in or something for easy check-in/out, commits, etc., for that and more I just use the terminal and ssh :).

  • Robert Nyman says:

    cl0s,

    Thanks for sharing!

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