i was set for another quest – to find a vi (text editor) modern alternative. for years i have worked with vi, learned to use it as my other hand, till it seemed there is nothing i can’t do with this old editor. what makes it so special? in one word: customization. the ability to change everything, the ability to have plugins and any key binding to anything you can think of. this lead to the current big community which supply many many plugins, themes and extensions.
so, you say, your quest is done, what’s the problem? the problem with the vi text editor, and few can argue with it, is it’s pretty ugly. it has the kind of style you have when driving a 40 years old pontiac firebird. yes, it has it charisma, but… how should i put it… time to think of a new toyota
moreover, have you seen the vi on windows? if you didn’t, then don’t, it will ruin your day. as i migrated to a more dynamic workspace, working both on windows and linux i also wanted a good texteditor for windows.
so, i began to search. i have tried many editors, the only one worth mentioning as a vi windows alternative is the notepad++ which is very fine free editor, with big community and support.
but the quest didn’t end there, it wasn’t what i have looked for, i couldn’t believe that on the 21 century all the editors look like are taken from the windows 95 era.
i’ve looked some more and found many people mention textmate. that’s it, i said. but i don’t have mac, and i don’t plan on working with one for the near future, isn’t there something like textmate on windows? well, i googled it, and found three modern text editors which challenged my call.
e-texteditor, intype and sublime text.
first i have checked e. i was surprised – at last! – i said to my self. it had it all, good looking, customizable, and with active community. it also have nice unique features like personal version control. but most importantly it brings the power of textmate community into the windows world. after this optimistic start, the reality was a bit disappointing. it depends on cygwin, which always surprised my with unusual behavior compared to unix shell. it was buggy. unstable (lucky me, i’ve used the version control) and not so customizable on its own. as a details geek, i fought with its theme editor and tried to have a custom search marker to fit my theme, i was exhausted after few hours.
i jumped to intype, it was nice, but seemed dead. the last update at that time (just one year ago) was few month old (btw, still in alfa phase as i write this after a year). next!
enter sublime text. i true wonder. my breath was taken, it was so beautiful, genuine ideas, like multiple selection (you can edit as many line you want in the same time, you must see it to understand), ingeniously wicked project management (no more endless tree-click to find a file, using it is like googling inside your project), the minimap (you can see a minimized version of your code, keeping your orientation all the time – even on big piles of code), and customizable to the bone (extendable with pyhton). i’m home.
sublime multiple selection
it was a true joy, i could customize everything, from the color of the selection to the key binding i was use to. from the theme and font to use and where, to the snippets of the languages i work with. sublime also support textmate snippets and themes.
a year have passed, and i am still learning this magnificent artwork. the developer, jon skinnenr, fires up new versions rapidly. i sometimes feel like i have my own text editor under development in the way jon listen and implement user requests.
the community is very active, great new plugins are coming out each week. there is also a great starter site and a place for community plugins and extensions.
i can say now that i have found a decent replacement for the vi, a highly customizable, modern text editor, which actually looks cool.
as for linux, i just use samba and edit files like i am on windows. sorry vi, i prefer to drive with the air condition on…