Editors: What I (a web developer) really care about

Since I can remember I've spent part of my life programming. I've programmed a lot. In a lot of different editors. But which editor do I use for web development nowadays and why?

I started my programming career very early, learning AppleScript, and naturally used the AppleScript Editor which comes with OS X. The AppleScript editor was the very first editor I've ever used and in retrospect it's a nice editor – for AppleScript. 

When I became a few years older I started playing with web technologies. I was working on an Ubuntu machine and was encouraged to use Geany. Geany was a nice little editor, with a pretty confusing user interface (at least for an eight years old). So I started using Aptana, a terribly slow Eclipse fork. I got the opportunity to switch back to OS X and started using TextWrangler, Coda 1, then Coda 2, TextMateAtom and most recently Sublime Text

I can clearly tell you today: My favorite editor is Sublime Text. But why? 

Sublime Text is most attractive to me because of its incredible speed. I don't know any other editor that's that fast in syntax highlighting or opening files. For a developer managing big projects, this is really important, and a reason for why I finally dropped Atom. 

Speed is important. Sublime Text is incredibly fast.

Sublime Text has for instance a terrible way of settings preferences. There are simply JSON files you can edit and that's it. And that's simple horrible. Even a programmer deserves a graphical settings pane. Most other editors I've ever tried had a convenient way to configure them. Atom or Coda can be configured easily, although they do not provide as many options as Sublime Text do. The question is: Do I really need that much options?

Customisability is important. Easy customisability is even more important. Editors like Coda and Atom are better here. Sublime Text offers a lot of options. Probably too many.

For me personally the availability of certain plugins is also important. For instance I simply need a RuboCop linter to constantly monitor the quality of Ruby source code. And I need syntax colouring for template languages like Slim.

Availability of packages, plugin, and syntax modes is very important. 

A good plugin API is nice. Atom has a really great API. In contrast Coda has terrible plug-in API. Neither is it well documented nor does it seem like it is really maintained. It's for example not really Swift-compatible.

At least a minimal, working, modern API should be provided.

Now, applying these criterions, undoubtedly only Sublime Text has a chance. TextWrangler and Aptana are just no longer modern. Coda is pretty, a real OS X app, packed with features (which nobody needs) but has a terrible API and isn't very fast. Atom has a wonderful API, literally thousands of packages available, but it's a web app, and web apps consume not only a lot of energy but are naturally slow.

Otto Winter25 Feb 16:04
Vim is pretty cool too, you might want to check it out: http://www.vim.org/

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