Have you ever bought anything before checking the return policy and regretted it right away? I have on numerous occasions. My most memorable disaster to date has to be the Komodo IDE I bought last year that was on sale for $89. My new years resolution for 2014 was to abandon Dreamweaver and move on to a more geek approved application. I think Dreamweaver CS6 or any other version for that matter is a very good piece of software, but the stench of amateurism is kind of hard to ignore. Call it geek peer pressure if you like, but I needed to make that change. I have compiled a list of text editors and IDEs of choice that I have used in the past. I am not going to beat you in the head with all of the technical jargon. I will simply let you know what worked for me and what was a waste of time and effort.
After the Komodo IDE disaster, I decided to purchase Sublime Text 3 (right away) and I was not disappointed. Impulse shopping is never good unless you have a sure tip on a horse or inside info on a sure thing like Microsoft stock in the 80s. Sublime is all of those things rolled into one. I’ve been using it for a while now and I still have not learned all of its functionalities yet. This software can really improve your workflow once you have harnessed all of its capabilities. There is no easy way to describe it. Sublime Text is not a full blown IDE, nor is it a lightweight text editor. It is simply in a class all by itself.
What propelled me to go shopping for more frontend tools was the need for a lightweight text editor I can fire up quickly. Back when I was using Windows I had one called WeBuilder. It cost me about $35 (back then), is incredibly fast, and does all of the little things I loved about Dreamweaver and none of the things I hate and will never use. It’s unfortunate that it’s only made for Windows.
This was my first App Store purchase and it was not even close to what WeBuilder provided for me. For $9.99 what was I suppose to expect? I still find use for it though. Periodically I will use it to scan through old source files or compare versions of code. I know I can do this with Sublime Text, but I prefer to keep things separate. Textastic is for Macs only.
Nothing, and I mean nothing is more satisfying, than something that is free and really really good. Sometimes I find myself working on a full blown project with Atom, when my true intentions were to just quickly edit a handful of files. This application is fast and does things automatically that other apps don’t, like open the entire directory of a file you are editing. I prefer this over Brackets any day of the week.
My issue with this application is not that it sucks. No, actually I’ve been using the free version since 2008. My paid version seems to just offer a license. I mean really! All I have is a shiny new license, which clearly states I was foolish enough to buy the discount version. Of all the applications I have mentioned so far, Sublime Text is the only rival to Komodo. WeBuilder would also count, but it’s for Windows only and that is an automatic disqualification. I am just a front-end guy; Komodo is built for people that are knee deep into programing. Perhaps I am not taking advantage of all the functionality it provides. Regardless, I regret buying it.
Brackets is sponsored by Adobe. I have a love hate relationship with this app. It provides an alarming number of features but sometimes it can be rigid and slow. The live preview is only limited to Chrome and for me it works intermittently. Of all the free applications this is one of the more robust options. Sometimes it seems as if it was tailor made for front-end development. Other times I just want to toss it in the recycle bin (which I have done repeatedly). Why? Some of the features it offers simply do not work well or at all. Outside of that it’s a keeper if you are patient enough.
This is the Mother ship of IDEs. No offense to Eclipse of course, but this mammoth of a program is perhaps in the top three of all IDEs for paid and free versions. Like Komodo, it is not really built for designer purist. If you are a theme developer for any PHP based CMS, Netbeans will be an asset to your workflow. It also supports multiple programing languages. Keep in mind however, this program is huge and not a one click install. It is not impossible to install, but you have to be willing to do a little be more to get it up and running.
There are many other text editors and IDEs out there for you to explore. The ones listed above are what I am familiar with and have used in the past extensively. Again, I did not get overtly technical as far as describing features. All of these applications are well documented and some even have video tutorials. Happy hunting people…