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Patrique Ouimet

Developer

Text Editors: The Never Ending Dilemma

Jun 2, 2018

Introduction

Text editors are something that had always interested me, I’ve always tried to find an editor that allows me to do the most while having good performance. This is an overview of my pros and cons of the following editors: Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, and Atom.

Caveats

Just a reminder that my workflow involves full stack web development, so I’m biased to that.

Sublime Text

Sublime Text was my first editor (after using Notepad++ in college) that I really fell in love with. I’ve used v2 and the most current v3 with a variety of packages. Here's a quick run down of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Very fast boot up
  • Very fast file/method/function look-ups
  • Very fast with large files
  • Great default syntax highlighting
  • Easy package installation

Cons

  • Debugging package issues is difficult
  • Customization is difficult for new users
  • Difficult to modify sidebar/treeview
  • Closed source

Atom

Fast forward a few years and Atom is released, so I thought I'd give it a go. My initial impression to Atom is was great, I like the sleek design and ease of use.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Intuitive configuration
  • Easy to install packages
  • Easy to install themes
  • Open source

Cons

  • Slow to open (especially with a variety of packages)
  • Slow with big files (crashes sometimes)
  • Slow indexing to navigate files/methods/functions

Visual Studio Code (VSCode)

After being thoroughly disappointed by Atom's performance, I went back to Sublime but I still wanted to try something new. VSCode came out and I was blown away. It had all the ease of use that Atom had and all the performance Sublime had.

Pros

  • Very fast boot up
  • Very fast file/method/function look ups
  • Very fast with large files
  • Great customization interface
  • Easy-to-use configuration file
  • Notifies you when a package failed to install and gives suggestions on how to fix it
  • Open source (excluding binaries)
  • Great integrated terminal

Cons

  • ???

Honourable Mention: PHPStorm

Somewhere between Sublime and Atom, I gave PHPStorm a go. It was alright, integrated terminal was a nice feature. I quickly realized that it's a memory hog and that I would never use all (or most) the built in functions so I couldn't justify the cost (especially since they change their billing to month-to-month).

Conclusion

I've tried a good variety of editors and they have all made improvements recently. I keep yo-yo'ing between Sublime and VSCode only because I'm so used to Sublime. Had I been introduced to both at the same time, I'd likely favour VSCode. I also recently gave Atom another week long try and still found the lack of performance annoying, I would love to support something completely open source but until they address performance issues, it's just not going to happen for me. I've also been trying VIM a lot lately to see if it improves my workflow, for the time being I just installed/enabled VIM functionality for VSCode and Sublime.

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