One of our first challenges as Code Rascals was finding a free, usable code-editing platform. While there is no shortage of editors available on the web, trying to test or choose from such a plethora is an imposing task. Further, we had already been spoiled by Workspaces, the online editing environment (unfortunately) confined within the walls of Treehouse. With reliable auto-complete, balanced color-coding, and automatic indentation, Workspaces creates a high set of expectations for what a free editor can do. So, we set out to find something comparable: A free text editor with similar usability features, portable across multiple platforms.
One of the first editors that we experimented with, TextWrangler is a free text editor that supports a large variety of programming languages and uses AppleScript to generate a real time preview via web browser. While this is quite useful, TextWrangler is plain text only, with none of the visual cues that we had come to appreciate via Workspaces. Also, it is currently only available for Mac OSX.
We also tried the very-usable Komodo, with a clean interface, autocomplete, and almost everything that you could possibly want from a text editor (sans color coding). While the free preview supposedly only lasts for 21 days, Komodo is certainly worth looking into.
Xcode, Apple’s development suite for Mac OSX and IOS, was another useful editor. A standard package that most of us had access to via our status as Mac users, Xcode offers a clean and usable interface to anyone wanting to run all kinds of code (so long as they are Apple users).
Perhaps the most popular editor that we explored was Sublime. Operational across multiple platforms with color-coding, indentation, and auto complete, sublime is incredibly usable with an intuitive, bare-bones interface. While it occasionally asks users to upgrade, it is also free to download and use. Perhaps the closest editor to Workspaces, Sublime is actually the editor featured in many of Treehouse’s video tutorials.
For more information about Sublime (as well as a few editors not covered here), head on over to the Treehouse blog to view web design guru Nick Petit post “Which Text Editor Should I Use?”