Text editor categories

So something I have noticed recently is that text editors seem to have their own categories now. And I think this will add oil to the flame wars of the godly text editor wars. Maybe.

I am not going to speak about IDEs, since they hold no interest to me and they cater to a more specific type of users. Some of the categories below can be IDE-ized.

And just so you understand what I’m talking about, here’s a quick list of the text editor categories:

Powerful text editing:

(Yup, only two, those are the ones I know.)

Powerful customizability:

Easy to use, but powerful:

Simple but useable:

  • Gedit
  • Notepad
  • nano
  • etc.

So let’s go over each of these and see the differences for me and things that seem to stand out between these.

Powerful text editing

Or the Vim category. Here are the Vim types, clones etc. Their job is to get the job done as quickly and as easily as possible. Want to copy the line yy, BAM. Open a new line above or below the current line O or o, BAM.

So their job is to get the job done. They emphasize powerful text editing. Getting stuff done quickly. Their more of an editor than an IDE environment. They only edit text, as best as possible, and that’s all. They are usually keyboard-driven as that’s most effective.

Powerful customizability

Here is the monster that can do anything you throw at it. The Emacs category. It could even emulate the rest of the categories if it so wished. It’s job is to cater to the most intricated users as best as possible.

Want it to only save if the file is over a certain file size, feasible. Want it to save the file, make a backup of it, compile it and make a backup of that, again feasible.

And here’s what’s up with them. They have special structures or the choice of language to configure them is super powerful. They seem to prefer Lisp as a language is what I’ve noticed. Emacs has TONS of stuff to achieve this goal. Light Table has it’s own structure that could do basically anything, and it’s built on top of a browser (basically) so you program in the powerful DOM.

Of course Light Table has it’s own power which will revolutionize programming, IMO, which is live and alive feedback.

This is my personal favorite, along with an emulation of the Vim category.

Easy to use, but powerful

This is a category I was fond of for a while. The ST (Sublime Text) category. These are the powerful, often beautiful text editors that seem to cater to web designers, new developers, more normal users that need some kind of oompf in their text editing.

They prefer to be elegant, well looking, user friendly, and emulate to some level the other categories, especially the Vim category.

They can easily be expanded upon to add new stuff to them, often getting them to near IDE level, but still maintaining a clean look and powerful functionality.

The users on the above categories may not be very fond of this category, as it may be a bit weak for their liking. Atom, however, may be liked by the Emacs category users it seems. Haven’t tried it myself but it seems like it’ll be a more Emacs category text editors…

Simple but useable

And finally we have the barebones text editors. The Notepad category. They are often not too powerful, but they can get the job done, often well enough.

They don’t have that much to offer but you know, they work and they save you in a pinch sometimes.

I don’t think these will be very involved in text editor wars, as they often don’t care, most probably.

April 12, 2014