My Code Editor Of Choice

When I’m not writing books, I’m writing code. I’m especially fond of WordPress, something that probably comes as no surprise to anyone since I’m the man behind Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog. That means I’m writing PHP, HTML and CSS primarily, and I enjoy it most of the time. My code is either written for open source projects, usually WordPress themes, or for clients at the Odd Alice web agency where I’m the founder and CEO.

Half of you probably knows all this and are wondering where I’m going with this. The other half are obviously shocked that I’m working with code…

One of the most common questions I get in regards to my setup is what code editor I swear by.

I used to love Coda, an editor from Panic. It fit perfectly into my workflow (for smaller projects), but then they upgraded it. Coda 2 will never again grace my Mac, good riddance. The editor is still great, but the interface is horrible and it was plagued by bugs.

I’ve tried Textmate, bbEdit and a bunch of other editors. Most are more or less appealing, I could’ve stuck with either one of them really. I did find them bland though, not one stood out the way Coda used to do.

Then I gave Sublime Text a shot, beta testing the 2nd version. I was hooked from the get-go. Sure, Coda’s built-in FTP is handy when working with simple small sites, but Sublime Text 2 is something entirely different. I love that bloody editor.

Why, you ask?

  • It is unobtrusive. No annoying interface to get in my way. Well, except the right hand minimap, which I understand that you’d want to use at times, but I’m not laying out my project like that, so I disabled it.
  • It is snappy. Seriously, Sublime Text 2 is fast, and the beta for Sublime Text 3 is wicked. Way to go, optimizing something that is already awesome!
  • You can theme it. Not that I do, really. I like the rough vanilla install you get.
  • The Find All feature. This is really nice, because Find All when searching is really powerful since you’re not actually just replacing the string (or whatever), you’re placing your cursor at several places at the same time. If you haven’t experienced this sort of search (and replace), then you haven’t massaged your inner search in a file nerd. Not that most of you need to, but still!
  • Nice syntax highlighting and whatnot.
  • You can go nuts with scripts. I’ve dabbled a bit in this, but I haven’t really done nor added anything significant to my workflow. I recently changed computer, and I haven’t bothered to add anything, so I guess I didn’t need more than the editor.

That is the key, really. If you know what you’re doing you just need a text editor to write code. I could write the code for this very site straight up in TextEdit, with no syntax help or anything. That’s because I know the necessary languages to do so. I wouldn’t want to, because TextEdit is an ugly piece of software and I’m a lot faster with code editors that I’m familiar with. In fact, I have all but swapped TextEdit for Sublime Text 2 for all things text that is not actual word processing. The keyboard shortcuts, the find all feature, the whole package makes Sublime Text 2 the obvious choice for me. The fact that it is cross platform just makes me feel better about it.

So what about Coda? I’m not inclined to give it another go until I feel the need to shop around for a new code editor. But don’t worry Panic, I’m still a die-hard Transmit user.