back to article Six things a text editor must do - or it's a one-way trip to the trash

When I heard, in a tutorial video, the multi-platform programmer's editor Sublime described as "the cool kids' code editor" (or possibly "the Cool Kid's code editor" - the speaker didn't enunciate his capitals and apostrophes very clearly) I was puzzled. As the goto (or, rather, the call-by-reference) consultant on Agile Harlem …


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  1. Dazed and Confused

    There is only one thing a text editor needs

    It just needs to be vi

    1. Dr_N
      Thumb Up

      Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

      VI, the only editor that you can count on to be installed anywhere you are doing onsite support.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        Doesn't VI stand for Venom Incarnate? I think I read that here, but these people may be biased

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

          vi = virtually impossible.

          Which is a lie. There is only one editor...

          vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, vi, ...


          Simples. It's been around for at least 30 years. Even VIM isn't really an improvement. You can't improve on the core of vi, it's just too cool.

          Of course those who down vote it are obviously ignorami, and have never used it in anger. If you use it in anger it saves your bacon -- EVERY TIME.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        Maybe 10 years ago, now it's nano.

      3. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        .... that you can count on to be installed anywhere.....

        You're the sort of person who actually used to use EDLIN rather than carrying around a floppy disk with somethinganything else on it, aren't you?

        1. Dr_N

          Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

          "You're the sort of person who actually used to use EDLIN rather than carrying around a floppy disk with somethinganything else on it, aren't you?"

          Nope. I never "did" MS-DOS.....

      4. Rolf Howarth

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        You don't know how true your statement about vi running everywhere. I was won over by vi when I absentmindedly tried launching it to edit something when logged on via an ASR-33 teletype..... and IT STILL WORKED !!

        Ok, so it had switched to ex mode and was printing out one line at a time, but all the commands and shortcuts worked as normal and it was completely usable. Quite brilliant I thought (especially as I'd never used ex prior to that, or probably since either).

        1. Rolf Howarth

          Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

          Sorry, DECWriter not ASR33, but same principle applies.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        "VI, the only editor that you can count on to be installed anywhere you are doing onsite support."

        EXACTLY. Doesn't matter if you love or hate it. It's fast, light, works on even quite a badly fubar-ed system and can be found all over the place. Time spent learning it is more than worthwhile.

    2. Martin

      Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

      OK - I'll mention emacs.

      Can we leave it there please? Do we REALLY have to go down this hoary old discussion yet again?

      1. ratfox

        Emacs: Rejected

        4. The editor should contain no implementation of Lisp

        It's in the article!

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: Emacs: Rejected

          Lisp is not a really a problem provided you have sufficient parentheses installed.

      2. Alan Mackenzie

        Speaking of Emacs, ....

        ,... Emacs 24.3 has just been released. It satisfies quite a few, but not all, of Verity's criteria.

        1. Alister

          Re: Speaking of Emacs, ....

          Emacs would be a great O/S if only it had a decent text editor...

          1. Wemb

            Re: Speaking of Emacs, ....

            I use emacs, but to be fair to the others, it must rank as some of the most bloated software ever written. I mean, how many text editors really need at least one adventure game; a tower of Hanoi simulator; Tetris; pong; an implementation of Eliza; a random gibberish generator -and- a mode to plug the random gibberish generator into Eliza?

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. eulampios

              Re: Speaking of Emacs, ....

              Taking this as an insult. Since, even if you use it, you don't really seem to know it. AMOF, I don't really play games in Emacs. First, think how much space does it take? How fast does it load? Run this( in Emacs with M-! or M-1 M-!)

              dpkg-query -Wf '${Installed-size}\t${Package}\n' |\

              column -t | grep -P 'emacs.*' | \

              awk '



              printf "-------------------------\nTotal for emacs: %.3f Mb\n",sum/2^10




              Total for emacs: 145.402 Mb

              BTW, why does ELReg text parser mutilate the text so bad and both pre,code tags are so ugly???

              Most of it is Elisp, it is modular and 145Mb really worth it! Here is why for me, personally:

              **incremental (regex) search, where you get search results for a pattern while you're typing it in ; configurable regex system

              **grep-mode, you do grep command and get a *grep* buffer with the list of matching lines hyper-linked to the place/file

              **this idea, that everything is file... I mean a buffer is implemented, special buffers

              **run-shell command on a region with or without an argument (M-1) M-|

              **very smart keyboard shortcuts, which you can configure and customize to your own liking

              ** collection of text killing macros, can your editor know what zap-to-char is anyone? Capitalize, change-toupper/lower and so on. Very efficient text editing. I am so used to it I use in Firefox.

              **running every command with M-x with an autocompletion

              **calc-mode, a Reverse-Polish with inf. precision calculator that can integrate, differentiate, convert units etc. Both stand-alone and embedded. And hey, you can still run pari-gp, (i)maxima, octave in in its own buffer and yes run-shell on a region with dc?


              **kill-ring browser

              **dired-mode, where you can do operation on files and dirs (with tram-mode via ssh remotely)

              **unmatched extendibility

              **predefined highlighting and indentation, regex highlighting etc

              **aspell and calendar-mode

              ** hey, it got a vi emulation mode, viper-mode. I do like vim (vi is too plain), does vim have an emacs mode? ;-)

              ** its own terminal-mode, which is Okay

              **org-mode, info-mode, tex-mode, w3m-mode ( a decent web browser) and you-name-ti-mode


              Wow, this is just 5% of what it can do and I just don't have an idea about it.

              1. eulampios

                redundant string

                Sorry. Just looked it over again and found that all this string matching piece:

                "column -t | grep -P 'emacs.*'" is redundant and could be done in awk '/emacs.*/...'

                1. Greg J Preece

                  Re: redundant string

                  eulampios.....are you the author of emacs?

                  1. eulampios

                    Re: redundant string

                    Greg, even if I weren't, using the definite article is incorrect, since Emacs authors are aplenty, a much bigger number of any other editor or/and IDE.

                    My knowledge of Elisp didn't get me any further than a few custom lines in .emacs and some .el files. So, no.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Speaking of Emacs, ....

              That's why I don't use emacs, I expect my text editor to be smaller than the OS on which it's running :)

          2. eulampios

            Re: Speaking of Emacs, ....

            It would be great if those who say so, would really try getting it.

        2. eulampios

          Re: Speaking of Emacs, ....

          It satisfies quite a few, but not all, of Verity's criteria.

          Well, not sure about the validity of those criteria. IMHO, GNU Emacs satisfies a number of much more serious and important criteria (for me), that no other editor seems to even be aware of.

      3. Martin

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs


        Evidently we DID have to go down this hoary old discussion yet again.

        But at least I now know a good joke I'd not heard before.

    3. Crisp

      Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

      I once offered a fiver to anyone that could write a COBOL program in vi without setting off the terminal bell.

      No one ever claimed it.

      1. GBL Initialiser

        If they didn't think to turn it off in their login script then they didn't deserve said quids.

      2. Pomgolian

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        =====> :)

        I did that for 15 years. Mine's a pint.

    4. Len Goddard

      to misquote

      Vi is the worst text editor.

      Except for all the others.

    5. jai

      Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

      i use a text editor as a tool, to make life easier. i could just concat all my code onto the end of a file, i guess, but using a text editor makes it easier to spot mistakes and type in lots of text.

      having to type in the commands to control the app as well as type in the text i'm typing doesn't make life easier at all.

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        > having to type in the commands to control the app as well as type in the text i'm typing doesn't make life easier at all.

        Well not many people have a telepathy interface, so you've got to find a way to feed the commands into the editor as well as the text. With vi the commands are fed in with the keyboard, originally because that was all that was available. They wanted to be able to use it on all makes of terminal so didn't rely on their being buttons available for all the functions they wanted. But this proved to be its great strength because if you can touch type, even of the random finger selection kind then its bloody quick to use because you don't even have to move your hands. Personally I hate the stupid PC keyboard layout because some damn fool idiot put the [Esc] key out of reach, whereas an IFT keyboard had it just outside the left shift key within easy striking mode. GUIs and mice might be ever so beginner friendly, but all that moving hands around kills the productivity. You end up having to remember all the shortcut key sequences which reduces the so called friendly editor to being just a pale imitation of vi.

        But if you can't find vi, ed's not bad either.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Two men sitting at the bar ...

      one of them turns to other and asks "What's your IQ?". The other responds "161. Whats yours?". The first man responds "159. What do you think of quantum entanglement and the parametric scattering method of producing photon pairs?". The two then proceed to have a discussion and became friends for life.

      A little further down the bar 2 other blokes had seen this and one turns to other and says "My IQ is 120 what is yours". He gets the reply "118. What did you think of the Man U v Chelsea match?". They have a long discussion about all things sport and strike up a lifelong friendship.

      Even further down the bar were 2 other blokes who had seen all of this. One turns to other and says "My IQ is 70" and the other responds "Mine is 71. Do you prefer vi or emacs?".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two men sitting at the bar ...

        Don't leave us hanging like that! Which editor did IQ 70 prefer?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't leave us hanging like that!

          He replied "Actually, I've never had need of more than Edlin."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Two men sitting at the bar ...

        The big question -- was this post written by the man with the70 IQ or the 71 IQ?

      3. Cipher

        Re: Two men sitting at the bar ...

        I would add as an ending:

        Both were arrested a short time later for drunken brawling...

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

      ...A journal. I remember (I blame the COBOL thread for making me reminisce) the 'full-screen' editor on a DEC VAX 11/780 that simply journalised every editing action. Was fun to crash out of a long editing session, restart the editor and sit back and watch it re-apply every key-stroke up to the point of the crash. Did rectangular-block copy&paste too.

      1. Bilious

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        SEDT, wasn't it? Long gone, but fondly remembered.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: There is only one thing a text editor needs

        I remember (I blame the COBOL thread for making me reminisce) the 'full-screen' editor on a DEC VAX 11/780 that simply journalised every editing action.

        EDT/TPU. I also have fond memories of it, from the days when I had to write VAX assembly code over a 1200bps dialup connection that would frequently drop for no good reason. Curse, dial back in, log back in, run the recovery and watch all my uncommitted changes be replayed. Lovely.

        Re the COBOL mention: My preferred editor is vi - actually vim - and I write COBOL code in it more days than not. (Most of the code I work on these days is in either C or COBOL, though there's a smattering of each of at least a dozen other languages.) I have hacked vim to add a bit more support for when I must use COBOL's old-style fixed format rather than nice modern free format, and added some keywords to vim's cobol.vim syntax file, but aside from that it does just fine.

  2. Troy Peterson

    Crimson Editor

    My favourite editor by far on Windows is Crimson Editor (Also known as Emerald editor). Sadly, it's no longer developed... But still available. I use it extensively at work. It is a little bit slow at starting up, but not too horrendous.. It's still faster than any of my IDEs by far. Out of any editor I've ever used it has the best macros, block editing, and regex functionality. Block Editing is a godsend... I guess that's what you call multiple cursors here. Crimson is the first editor I ever saw that implemented it and it's still the best. A sizeable amount of my daily work consists of 'TARDEP' tasks... A lot of converting lists of data into SQL inserts and such... and the Block editing is the only way to go.

    1. teebie

      Re: Crimson Editor

      Crimson used to be my go to editor(*), but didn't handle non-latin character sets well.

      So if you only have to edit files written in english I would recommended it, if you are using all of unicode I wouldn't.

      (*)not 'goto editor'

      1. Law
        Thumb Up

        Re: Crimson Editor

        Used to use Crimson too... these days I use Notepad++ as its still being developed and wasn't that dissimilar to CE.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Crimson Editor

          I'm still using Crimson Editor. In my opinion the only thing it's missing is the ability to replace multiple lines at a go, however to be fair I rarely need to do that sort of replacement.

  3. Sandpit
    Thumb Down

    Shame, could have been a useful article; but went for pompous and unfunny instead.

    1. Andrew Moore

      Welcome to Stob...

      You're new here aren't you?

    2. Silverburn

      Ha, Ha, swing and a miss.

      Remember, the keystrokes for switching on humour detection is "Ctrl+F and then Ctrl+alt+U".

  4. Jaruzel

    My Preferred Editor is...

    (And this is just MY opinion and I'm NOT saying anyone else should be swayed by it.)

    UltraEdit-32. Version 12b to be exact. On Windows.

    Yes, it's old, Yes it's a bit clunky in places. But it loads massive files in a flash, has user configurable syntax and colour highlighting, and the must-have feature for me... the ability to add a button or menu entry to launch other programs with the currently edited file (or automatic temporary copy if not recently saved) as a parameter.

    I'm also very lazy, and after 12 or so years using UltraEdit, I'm not inclined to use/learn anything else.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Preferred Editor is...

      UltraEdit is still fantastic; I've converted may Neo-wannabes to it, simply by demonstrating "Column Mode" editing (stitch that Notepad++)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My Preferred Editor is...

        Notepad++ can do "column editing". In fact most serious editors I know of can do this. I can't believe the author was amazed at how much easier his "TARDEP" editing was.

    2. BillG

      Re: My Preferred Editor is...

      UltraEdit is God's Text Editor. No question about it.

      The genius of UltraEdit is how it is shockingly easy and pleasantly obvious to do highly complex tasks.

    3. hag4

      Re: My Preferred Editor is...

      Agreed. UltraEdit32. Used it once, and then purchased it long before the free trial period expired. And speaking of lazy...Version 6.0a. Still works perfectly (it's on the other monitor now!). And though others will do block editing, it's also the EZ way it allows switching between Hex mode, swapping upper to lower to proper case. syntax highlighting, opens 60+ files all at once, including several 450+ Mbs, etc., etc....

      And probably the one feature I use all the time - to confirm output and which I've never see anywhere else - yet : the option in the search dialog to see a count of your search-string in your file/s. Oh yeah, and the ablity to replace specified text only within a selected block while leaving the rest as is, and returning the number of replacements. Too awesome for mere words!

      Alas, will finally have to upgrade as 6.0a won't install on Surface Pro's Win 8 pro... Bummer. Still, the best investment I ever made!

  5. Tim Parker

    TextPad ? NotePad ? Programming editors.... really ?

    1. Julz


      1. Gav

        Re: PFE?

        And it's a big cheery wave back to the 20th century! Seriously, the main page explains why it'll not suffer from the Y2K bug.

        I tried PFE way back then. It was ok.

        1. Chika
          Thumb Up

          Re: PFE?

          PFE. Used it in the 90s, still have it to hand now, albeit on a rather creaky XP box. When I first started editing, it was all group edits on teletypes, then I switched to EDT on PDP-11s, then vi on Unix. Then I was introduced to PFE, and it became a mainstay because you could use it in so many different situations where many editors back then were either over-engineered or just couldn't cope.

      2. MrT
        Thumb Up

        Re: PFE?

        Netscape 3.0b Gold, PFE and cross-tested through Internet Explorer 1.0 (before MS bought it, when it was a Word plugin IIRC) - I had some sort of system for writing early web sites (well, 20 years or so ago, whilst working at University of Leeds) where I'd create in one then try in another and finally tidy it all up in PFE. Haven't used it in ages - thanks for the memory jog!

      3. PT

        Re: PFE?

        I still use PFE occasionally, especially when I need keyboard macros. It's primitive, but fast. It could do the TADREP test with two easy find-and-replace in less time than it took to read about it.

    2. daveeff

      Really - old

      I remember entering code with edlin - 360K floppies didn't have a lot of space for a big editor and a compiler. Or a linker! You had to edit then compile the source code (on drive B:), swap floppies in A: to link it.

      It was a very long time ago, we did have an XT (10M hd) m/c too but we took turns who used the floppy only m/c.

      About time we had a nostalgia (old fart) icon.

  6. AceRimmer

    multiple cursor feature

    Textpad does this as well and it's one of the reasons I've stuck with it all these years

    1. Ryan 7
      Thumb Up

      Re: multiple cursor feature

      Notepad++ also, via Ctrl+Click

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: multiple cursor feature

        You mean Alt+Click.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: multiple cursor feature

        Word for Windows 2.0 used to have column cop/cut and paste. Then they removed it. Could happen to Visual Studio when you least expect it.

    3. Steve Knox

      Re: multiple cursor feature

      One word: BRIEF

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: multiple cursor feature

        One word: BRIEF

        Wow, that tales me back.. It had column manipulation, and I had the PARADOX add-on so I could cook up some PAL scripts and kick them off from inside BRIEF. That is, what, 20+ years ago? I think I may even done some Turbo Pascal work in it, but I think at some point I got the lightweight "e.exe" which was a tad more agile on my machine..

        Thanks for the memory :)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. The Real Tony Smith

          Re: multiple cursor feature

          > One word: BRIEF

          Ohhhh, the first REAL editor I used, I loved it.

          To this day the only way I can remember how to spell the word 'brief' is to mutter Basic Reconfigurable Interactive Editing Facility under my breath.

  7. Katie Saucey


    ..has been my editor for quite some time. I never noticed the idiotic icon until now. Just changed it. This could be the start of a productive week..

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Up

      Re: notepad++

      There's even an option in the installer to use a different icon, so it must be quite a popular dislike.

      Dodgy icon or not, it handily beats TextPad in my opinion and I've pretty much installed it on every machine I have to do any serious work on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: notepad++

        It's a text document with a pencil. While the lower line looks like it hasn't had a transparency applied correctly, it isn't the worst icon on my desktop - that belongs to the VPN icon of a padlock that wouldn't look out of place on Windows 3.1.

        TextPad's icon isn't much better, a T upon which a text document with a pencil is superimposed. This also looks like it belongs in a Program Manager group.

        I fell out with TextPad when I started using it, was hunting through a file for a search string, did my usual CTRL+F to search, started typing what I wanted, and nothing happened. Except the search string is now where the cursor was placed.

        F5 finds. What we have been indoctrinated to believe is a refresh.

        (Yes, I know key mappings can be edited, but this was enough to put me off using it and go back to NotePad++).

        1. Alister

          Re: notepad++

          it isn't the worst icon on my desktop - that belongs to the VPN icon of a padlock that wouldn't look out of place on Windows 3.1.


          Do I get a prize??

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Re: notepad++

            Do I get a prize??

            Here - a copy of CorelDraw! 4.

  8. Valeyard
    Thumb Up

    sublime looks decent...

    ..might give it a go

    Having said that, I'm one of the notepad++ regular users, but I'm always on the lookout for cool new toys

    squiggle squoggle home.


  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Like the definition of IDEs

    I now understand why I avoid them for a lot of tasks

    Verity is informative as aver

  10. Tom 38

    Sublime's multiple cursor feature is completely top. … This is powerful, simple, clever and I have never seen it done quite like this before.

    This is simply vim's replace in block. Select a block of text, hit c (for change, duh), make your changes on one line, the changes are reflected on all lines in the selected block.

    1. KitD


      Yes, it's also in NotePad++ which, like Sublime, inherits it from Scintilla which underlies both of them.

    2. John Wilson

      No, it's not - it really isn't! I'm playing with Sublime now, and I'm a long-time Vi user: sublime let's you put multiple cursors literally anywhere. Not sure it's enough to convert me to Sublime, but it's a very cool feature.

    3. eulampios

      @Tom 38

      Same goes with Emacs. Select a region and run whatever command you want taking the region as an argument, like interactive (regex) replacement. or any more sophisticated stuff with run-shell command on it, awk/perl/sed -- you name it.

  11. Crisp

    I have lost the ultra-violet wiping-out gadget (ask your dad)

    Am I so old now that this is ancient technology?

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: I have lost the ultra-violet wiping-out gadget (ask your dad)

      "ultra-violet wiping-out gadget" otherwise known as "the windowsill" (c)1982

      p.s. "yes"

    2. BenDwire Silver badge

      Re: I have lost the ultra-violet wiping-out gadget (ask your dad)

      You obviously are, and you're obviously losing some of your marbles. Everyone knows (knew?) that EPROMS need UV to clear them, but EEPROMS don't - they are Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. It looks like Stob is a typical softie who likes to pretend they know enough to blame hardware people for their bugs ...

      As for me, I'm old enough to still have two of the things laying about, together with a collection of programmers. No, they're not used for new products, but lots of old kit is still in circulation which gets repaired from time to time.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: I have lost the ultra-violet wiping-out gadget (ask your dad)

        Yes, and she did state EPROM, unless it has been edited after the fact...

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge

    A nitpick

    What is Zawinski's Observation? He's made quite a few.

    On the subject of editors, those that take it upon themselves to autocollapse sections of code which they think I'm not interested in end up on my shitlist. The bugs know where the collapsed sections are and hide in them.

    1. Gerhard den Hollander

      Re: A nitpick

      Zawinski's observation is in all good books on regexps

      'Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.'

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: A nitpick

        Zawinski's Observation, from the Unix Hater's Handbook (, down on page 168 (page 206 according to PDF Viewer):

        Now at this point I should have remembered that profound truism:

        “Some people, when confronted with a Unix problem, think ‘I know, I’ll use sed.’

        Now they have two problems.”

        There may be other versions, but strangely, I just read that one last week, which is why it was fresh in my brain.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: A nitpick

          > the Unix Hater's Handbook

          The book against which "Mein Kampf" reads agreeably.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A nitpick

      What is Zawinski's Observation?

      I believe it's possibly the one about all applications bloating until they can do email. Or something.

  13. Lee D Silver badge

    I don't get the requirement for using a text editor for programming. Use a proper IDE for programming, and a text editor for the log files, it's the only sensible way. Why would you want to read or change code in something that can't then be used to compile and test that code without a lot of extraneous setup and inadequate debugging? The stuff I do end up doing on the command-line on a remote, headless station is so minor that literally pico/nano will suffice. Anything more complex and I want my IDE back even if it means re-uploading the code (and with decent source-control, that's literally a command or two on either end).

    Personally, metapad has been my notepad replacement for years. I don't care about syntax highlighting in 2G log files (God, I hate to think what it would do to some of the files I open in terms of opening time), but metapad can at least open them in a reasonable time and not choke on them. But when I program, it has to be Eclipse or some equivalent. All the syntax highlighting is there. No end of clever regexp tricks to do the text manipulation required. And, I'm sorry, but Eclipse isn't going to take that much longer to start on a decent machine than a Java-based text editor would. And at least by sticking to one tool, I don't have to keep loading it up and switching/closing it anyway.

    The code-folding? Obviously don't get that large programs grow to the point where you don't need to see every line all the time. It's there for a reason.

    And using a text-editor you have to register and pay for? Sorry, are we back in the 90's shareware era again?

    If you're editing code, use an IDE - because you're unlikely to load up a huge code project, make changes, and then NOT want to just compile it again, and there one-button in a GUI with a debugger is worth its weight in gold (I'm an advocate of both GUI and CLI - sometimes at the same time - for whatever is more appropriate to the job at hand. It's about a 70-30 split in my daily work life and about a 50-50 in anything technical, programming, or personal that I do.).

    If you're only viewing/searching text, use a simple text editor that's capable of showing you things like the final bug and is so damn small and fast that you don't WANT it to do anything more complex.

    And if you're writing documentation, use a word-processor.

    Use the tools designed for the job that you need to do. And certainly don't pay for a one-size-fits-nobody tool that is worse than any particular tool you should be using.

    1. Julian Bradfield

      why not use an IDE

      Because of the incredible bloat. I recently wanted to write a simple app for my ancient Nokia phone. I tried to do it The Right Way: downloading the entire Nokia development environment, and running under Wine (of course, doesn't work properly under Linux). Gigabytes of download, including a custom Eclipse; then you have to *run* Eclipse, which takes months to learn how to use (I've even taught using the damn thing, but have blissfully forgotten it all). After a few days of struggle, I thought, somebody must have done this the really right way - googled, and found a nice simple Makefile of a few lines that does everything. So now I can edit my tiny 600 line app in emacs like everything else, compile it with one command, and throw away the gigabytes of Eclipse and irrelevant Windows java libraries.

    2. David Hicks

      Why use an IDE? They're usually huge and heavy and (AFAICT) don't really gain you much.

      "Why would you want to read or change code in something that can't then be used to compile and test that code without a lot of extraneous setup and inadequate debugging?"

      You know the IDE doesn't compile things itself, right? It kicks off external tasks. And for debugging, well, gdb is all you need :)

      A text editor with syntax highlighting and a left-panel directory browser, that's set up to fire off a build command with a keyboard macro is perfectly good for my uses. At this point it basically *is* an IDE. BUT it doesn't require a whole bunch of workspace files that can get corrupt or out of sync, and code folding is for chumps anyway. If your source file is that long it's probably time to split it.

      "I'm sorry, but Eclipse isn't going to take that much longer to start on a decent machine than a Java-based text editor would."

      LOL. Java based text editor! Silly rabbit.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Why do people cut themselves? Does it make them feel good?

        > A text editor with syntax highlighting and a left-panel directory browser, that's set up to fire off a build command with a keyboard macro is perfectly good for my uses.

        Time to get into the 21st century and continuous compilation.

        Unless you are just into smalltime scripting.

        1. David Hicks
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Why do people cut themselves? Does it make them feel good?

          "Time to get into the 21st century and continuous compilation."

          Central build servers, nightly builds and self-tests etc? Continuous integration I'm familiar with and like. Never heard of "Continuous Compilation" before.

          Useful tools all, and I'm very much in favour of them. But surely this stuff doesn't negate the need for developers to make their own builds of experimental, unfinished code to test locally?

  14. DuncanL

    Stob - never one to let facts get in the way of a good rant...

    However Notepad++ has had a new "piece of paper" icon that won't offend your sensibilities for many versions now.

    And yes; I do know that Stob is (intended) to be humour more than information.

    1. jai

      Re: Stob - never one to let facts get in the way of a good rant...

      how do you know that isn't the icon that offends her? perhaps she liked the old when she used to use it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stob - never one to let facts get in the way of a good rant...

        "how do you know that isn't the icon that offends her? perhaps she liked the old when she used to use it?"

        Cause it's an option during installation to have the old icon and thus should not be of any concern?

  15. rward

    WordStar muscle memory

    Now lost, but the wordstar "diamond" for cursor movement was one of the great UI inventions, until keyboard manufacturers swapped the location of the control and caps lock keys.


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Borland Sidekick

    I mourn the loss of Borland's Sidekick - a DOS TSR utility including Notepad. But then I found vi. I've lead a sheltered life.

  17. phildobbin

    and when you grow up, you can use Vim...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And when you're tired of vim in those cases where it has to be a terminal editor you can use nano.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Nano is OK for simple users

        but anyone who spends a lot of time editing text files should invest the time to learn a more powerful editor that allows you to change many things easily, etc. For that both vi (or vim) and emacs are what you should be looking at. To not do so is like digging a garden with a hand trowel because you never learned how to use a spade.

        Having said that I do come across huge numbers of people who waste a lot of time by never having learned to use the tools available to them; they then justify their ignorance through abusive comments on the better tools - sad.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nano is OK for simple users

          Or, y'know, accept that computing has moved on and use a decent modern editor that combines the best features of the terminal or the GUI. Like sublime. It even has a decent vi mode.

          Yes, it is a bit of a troll for which I apologise, but I genuinely find vi and emacs can be sledgehammers used to crack peanuts.

        2. Rukario

          Re: Nano is OK for simple users

          nano for terminal editing, kate for anything more complex, and for a decent find and replace, sed.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      so you know how to fix VIm

      I'd love to know how to tell it to faithfully (save for the two bugs) emulate vi (from AT&T System 5R3.2.

      The closest I've been able to get is to comment everything out in /etc/virc .

  18. mhoulden

    For TADREPs I tend to use, dare I say it, Excel. Obviously there are lots of caveats about getting the formatting right, and its formula edit mode can be very tedious when it tries to be too clever, but a formula something like

    ="INSERT INTO table (" & A1 & " ) VALUES ('" & B1 &"','" & C1 & "')"

    copied down all the rows is a lot easier than typing things manually. Or just use the "import from Excel" option that most database front ends like Toad or SQL Server Management Studio have.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I used to do exactly that (only using Gnumeric and/or LibreOffice Calc) but then I'd forget to fill down a column.

      Cue a few dBase files with empty columns confusing a MacroView installation. (Yes, there is software written in this century that uses it. MacroView and Citect SCADA are two off the top of my head.)

      Since I was generating my dBase files from a SQLite database, I switched to just using SQL views to do this and use SQLite Manager (Firefox extension) as my front-end.

      Ohh, and to Verity Stob's complaint about CR/LF behold vim and: :set list

  19. AndrueC Silver badge

    I use Notepad. Can't be arsed with installing a text app on every machine I visit and most of the time it works well. The whole 'word wrap' stuff is annoying but otherwise it works.

    1. pPPPP

      Doesn't the lack of more than one undo/redo level not annoy you?

      1. Ian Yates

        Or a functional find/replace?

        1. AceRimmer

          The find and replace function in Notepad works fine. Have you read the manual?

          1. Ian Yates

            "Fine"? Find only goes in one direction without wrapping, and neither will limit to word boundaries. This is stuff so basic that it's been in every other MS product for more years than I care to remember.

            And that's just ignoring that for something that does nothing more than display text, Notepad collapses in to a black hole the moment you try to load a file of any significant size (i.e., a log file).

            Portable Notepad++ for me.

            1. AceRimmer

              Find goes up or down depending on your selection

              Replace when used in conjunction with find next is only in one direction

              Seriously though, the find and replace does everything it says it does and to that point it IS functional and it does find and replace strings

              The fact it does the bare minimum to achieve this and adds no extra functionality is why everyone sensible (including myself) will use and even pay for an alternative product.

              As far as I remember MS have not changed Notepad since the 3.11 days

      2. AndrueC Silver badge

        Doesn't the lack of more than one undo/redo level not annoy you?

        No, I don't make mistakes :)

        More seriously it depends what I'm doing. I just find that for the 'simple' text editing scenario I'm usually on some test machine or server and notepad is always ready and waiting. If I got used to a clever editor I'd just get pissed off every time I found it wasn't there.

        Notepad collapses in to a black hole the moment you try to load a file of any significant siz

        Not since Windows went 32 bit from what I can see. Only this morning I was working through a Windows Update issue and looking at WindowsUpdate.log. 1.1MB in size and it loads almost instantly - and that' on a Win 7 VM with only 1GB of RAM assigned to it.

        I'm not at all saying that Notepad is perfect. It's crude and rudimentary. However the one thing it has in its favour is that it's always there. Snazzy tools and widgets are all well and good but a pain in the bum if no-one has installed them on the machine that you are trying to fix. If we had group policies or templates that ensured all machines had the tools then it'd be different but that's not practical for us. So we stick with what we know comes out of the box for the most part.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "However the one thing it [Notepad] has in its favour is that it's always there."

          Not on Unix/Linux. Thankfully.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          re: AndrueC

          1.5Mb log file? That's relatively small. Even on my Thinkpad L430, huge files cause it to spend time in never land. It's often qucker to reboot under Fedora and either grep or vi the file.

      3. Anonymous Coward


        I only ever make one mistake at a time. And since I used vi for over a decade before getting vim, I expect to be able to undo a change, and undo the undo to see what is different. I don't want an editor that assumes I'm going to make more than a single mistake at a time.

    2. VaalDonkie

      RE:"Can't be arsed with installing a text app on every machine I visit"

      Put NotePadd++ or any other text editor on a flash drive.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: RE:"Can't be arsed with installing a text app on every machine I visit"

        Put NotePadd++ or any other text editor on a flash drive.

        Most of them are virtual. So I'd have to put the stick in my workstation then go through the hassle of mounting the USB in the VMWare client (bearing in mind we normally use RDP to control the machines so don't typically have the VMWare client open). Sometimes RDP can host it but it's a bit hit and miss and of course even less practical if you're editing text files on more than one machine at once.

        All in all Win+R+'Notepad' is simpler and quicker ;)

        I don't hate the alternatives but the gains are rarely worth the bother. The serious text editing I do is for programming and that I do with Visual Studio. Everything else is just looking at logs or maybe editing a config file. Neither of those needs anything more than Notepad 99% of the time.

    3. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      re: Notepad

      So much Notepad hatred. Why? It's a very simple little text editor that does rudimentary things. It's not great, not snazzy, not bloated, not full of colored text. It's just simple, quick, and easy. And it's already on every single Windows server in the server room. True, it is dreadfully slow and search-and-replace on large files compared to NotePad++ or Cpad or pretty much anything that isn't relying on the default capabilities of a textbox. But it's always there and it pretty much always works the same way every time.

  20. 1Rafayal

    Ahh, so many editors these days.

    I have been a staunch NotePad++ user for quite some time now, I install it by default on nearly every Windows machine I work on.

    When it comes to Linux, then I either use nano or install nano. I have no idea why I dont get along with vim, perhaps it has something to do with a bad experience I had with an Amiga...

    1. JDX Gold badge

      It annoys me there is no notepad++ for OSX. Yes I know there are built-in tools and probably better ones for OSX, but a consistent set of apps is nice for those of us who have to skip between multiple OS very frequently.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese


        "It annoys me there is no notepad++ for OSX".


        and there's also its bigger brother BBEdit.

      2. Tim Parker

        "It annoys me there is no notepad++ for OSX. Yes I know there are built-in tools and probably better ones for OSX, but a consistent set of apps is nice for those of us who have to skip between multiple OS very frequently."

        Your choice entirely of course but.. have you not found anything multi-platform that you like ? I have to flit between a few platforms, less now than before admittedly, and either Vim or emacs do for me (not so much Vim for Python however).. there are others of course, just my preference over a lot of years, and i'm not particularly flying the flag for either.

        Your preference obviously - genuine question as i've never heard of notepad++ before - i'm just curious.

  21. Moof

    I'll stick with my Mac

    On the Mac? BBEdit forever! On the PC? Right,s edlin still available? I'd have to use UltraEdit or SlickEdit if I went down that road. Unix? vi or nano. Probable favorite if it wasn't so buggy was Pe

    1. Joey

      Re: I'll stick with my Mac

      BBEdit is the one to judge all others by but I've just come across Komodo Edit (cross platform) which does a pretty good job.

      1. I Am Spartacus

        Re: I'll stick with my Mac

        One of the things I missed when I gave up Mac's and started making money was BBEdit. But thank you for reminding me of my loss.

      2. DrGoon

        Re: I'll stick with my Mac

        The problem with commercial text editors is that they tend to be developed by small teams or individuals who achieve the bulk of the original requirements quickly, add many of the features requested by the early adopters over the next couple of years and then grow bored of maintaining the product or get more lucrative offers based on their coding prowess. This results in editors that do some things in a novel or elegant way and thus attract large followings (the things that inspired the developers to write another bloody text editor), do many other required things sufficiently well only to stagnate and eventually fail to be maintained.

        On my Macs, I use Textmate, a great little Mac-only editor that passes all of Verity's tests, has multi-line editing and which is faster than Sublime at editing huge log files. However, Textmate development waned some time ago. Sublime is likely the way forward, but inevitably in another few years it will be in the same place, and the next new commercial text editor will be required if one wants the latest clever thing, a strong community of people creating addons that I'm too lazy to make myself and bug fixes so that the damned thing will run on the latest upgrade cycle from one infinite loop.

        Kudos to Bare Bones for keeping BBEdit development ticking along. While it is now outgunned in many ways by newer editors, in terms of support it lives somewhere between the editors that burn so very brightly and the simple system-supported core editors such as vi.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll stick with my Mac

      Blimey, dozens of comments before we come to a Mac user that knows what a text editor is.

  22. Your Majesty


    1. Chika


      Not bad, especially the versioning side of things, but KWrite is a lot less messy.

      Having said that, I still prefer to edit text in a CLI environment on Unix and Linux, so vi is the usual way I do it.

      Then, of course, there's RISC OS and !StrongED.

  23. tommitytom


    This article merely scratches the surface when it comes to the power of SublimeText. In my opinion it is the best text editor, and I would recommend it to anybody!

  24. tommitytom

    Be sure to check out the short usage animations on their front page too :)

  25. nagyeger

    EEPROM + UV?

    The whole massive advance of EEPROM over EPROM was that the thing was Electrically Erasable, no need

    for your UV gadget. Or leaving it in the sun for a long while if you were hard up. Maybe Verity's fingers need a holiday in the sun?

    How come no one else has commented on this?

    1. Edwin
      Thumb Up

      Re: EEPROM + UV?

      No one else has commented on this because it's been so long since I used either that I'd forgotten the distinction....

    2. BenDwire Silver badge

      Re: EEPROM + UV?

      Try reading earlier posts ...?

  26. Stephen Wilkinson


    I've used EditPlus for at least 10 years and even bought my own licence for it for use at home as I liked it so much.

    I use Visual Studio as my IDE on a day to day basis but I still use EditPlus alongside.

  27. Titus Aduxass

    Programmer's File Editor

    Can't believe no-one's mentioned PFE.

    1. Elwell
      Thumb Up

      Re: Programmer's File Editor

      Dammit, beaten to it. I was just about to post and extoll its virtues, especially when it comes to TADREP (F12 ftw)

    2. tirk

      Re: Programmer's File Editor

      Nobody's mentioned it because all the Windows guys are hard at work - unlike the unemployed VI hipsters!

      </skive> ;-)

    3. Jim Hague

      Re: Programmer's File Editor

      PFE was nice in the day. I used to use it myself. But single platform (look, some of us don't live in MSland 100% of the time), no syntax highlighting, no development for 14 years and no source.

      I mean, why would you?(*)

      OK, so syntax highlighting is really only useful when spotting missing multi-line comment closures or as a buggered-up syntax early warning, but the first of those is well worth having and is the first reason I went elsewhere.

      (*) Says a man who still prefers trn4 to read newsgroups. Mind you, trn4 has source.

    4. Chika
      Thumb Up

      Re: Programmer's File Editor

      They have, but don't let it stop you mentioning it again. Damn fine bit of kit, IMHO.

    5. Irongut

      Re: Programmer's File Editor

      PFE was great in the 90s and I recommended it to everyone but these days? No.

      My recommendation now is Notepad++, a worthy replacement for PFE. ;)

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Eurydice Sophie Exintaris

    Notepad++ ?

    So I'm using Notepad ++ which does all of the above...

    I had used TextPad at about the time you mention acquiring it, but I never bought it. feels like I should have done. Googling it now. Although. Notepad++ is free... Hmm...

  30. ForthIsNotDead

    Does 'El Reg pay by the paragraph?

    I was told that you start a new paragraph when you *change the subject*. You do not start a new paragraph with each *sentence*. Perphaps the author is also a BBC website new journalist. I gave up. Un-readable. Please re-format this annoying juvenline verbiage and re-submit.

    And anyway, everyone knows it's Notepad++ or nothing.

  31. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge


    Years ago I worked with someone who eschewed the code editor built into our database development platform (a perfectly reasonable, for the time, full file text editor) in favour of EDLIN (on DOS 5 - yes I really am that old).

    We all thought they were a bit odd....ended up a a project manager, as it happens.

    I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: EDLIN

      I used to rely on Edlin many years ago when I was doing tech support. The beauty of a line by line editor is that it's easy to predict what should be on the user's screen. And if I remember correctly we sometimes sent out scripts activated by redirecting stdin. When I was working on Unix machines I used VI. Knowing the CLI for that was good because back then you'd sometimes find yourself on a terminal that wasn't correctly set up.

      But as I've said in my other reply: Any tool gets bonus points in my book just for always being there.

  32. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    It ain't no review of text editors without this

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Multi-Edit

      But unless I'm mistaken this isn't a review of text editors but Verity Stob lightening our day.

  33. bob, mon!

    All seriousness aside

    yer all dweebs. SciTE for the win. (For when vim is more than I need.)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    FTW! simply because of it's ability to show search results in a separate window. When trawling a 100k line log this is so useful.

  35. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Editing on multiple lines? Hello, StrongEd.

  36. jai

    the one thing a Monday morning needs... make it bearable:

    an article from Stob to get me through to the end of the day.

  37. TimChuma
    Thumb Up

    Green text on a black background

    Tends to freak people out these days, they think I have a terminal window open when really it is just a text editor.

    I have done a global search and replace that did 10,000 replacements at once and it was a bit slow, but did not fall over. Re-uploading all the files again to the web server took longer.

    I still use a text editor to look at HTML files and for my writing, I just copy and paste into a Word (2000) for a spell check.

  38. BenUK


    For a free editor, Notepad++ is very good, and even has multi-line editing ;)

  39. McBread


    I've always found nedit to be a dependable workhork. However I see from wikipedia that development has ceased.

    1. jpohl

      Re: Nedit

      Not an exact "clone" of nedit, but pretty darn close...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Editing code?

    Use an IDE. Why? Because mere syntax highlighting and string manipulation is far from sufficient.

    An IDE can tell the difference between identical strings that represent different identifiers (or even a word in a comment).

    I like to be able to click on an identifier and see it's declaration in another file. I like to quickly see every line in every file in a given project where a particular identifier is referenced, without having to type its name into a search field. I like to be able to do intelligent multi file refactoring, where the IDE is aware of an identifier's scope and type, and will limit changes to the specified variable. No weird surprises.

    If I have a class object called "fred" and type "fred.", I like to be given a choice of members to select from.

    I also like to see syntax errors and compiler warnings at the click of a button.

    Yes, IDEs take a long time to load, so do it once and don't close it. It is worth the extra minute.

    1. Irongut

      Re: Editing code?

      And if you're writing an application then yes you're right but if you're writing a shell script or quick sql statement, editing a config file or checking a log file then an IDE is the wrong choice and a decent text editor is required.

  41. Dave Pickles

    Programmer's Editor?

    Shouldn't a "programmer's editor" be called a "bugger"?

  42. IGnatius T Foobar

    vi or gtfo

    There is only one editor and it is vi. The fact that you are even evaluating lesser editors is a big lose.

    1. Aaron Em


      I've never seen emacs spelt that way before.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Macros Good or Bad?

    Is the author of this article a good programmer or just a journalist?

    Does the editor support user extension via an internal, C-like macro language?

    If you have ever tried reading somebody else's code and they have made heavy use of operator overloading or macros you will soon be lost in trying to understand what the source code does.

    The reason people can read code written by somebody else is that basic programming language constructs such as conditional IF statements and WHILE loops and FUNCTIONS are understood by all. If the programmer spends a lot of time creating his own constructs then a second code reader must understand these before being able to understand the source code.

    Polymorphism is acceptable since it provides a real benefit and a second coder only has to look and a handful of class definitions. A lot of Operator overloading and Macros then you will definitely confuse future maintainers of your source code. Perhaps the Author of this article should read a smalltalk program written by somebody else.

  44. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    Now that was a lovely editor. Even edited binary files. Came from the DEC-10. I used it on a PDP-11 for years.

    As Teco seems to have died a death then I'll settle for UltraEdit. I've been using it for years and have my own license for it. Notepad++ just does not hack it when it comes to XML files. (lack of pretty formatting switch)

    1. Christine Hedley Silver badge

      Re: Teco

      I'm surprised it's taken Teco this long to get a mention given its former infamy! I seem to recall it was noteworthy in that a Teco editing command was apparently indistinguishable from line noise, though I've never personally had the pleasure.

    2. PhilBuk
      Thumb Up

      Re: Teco

      One of the few text editors that had a command to read the front-panel switches (Control/F according to my TECO pocket guide).


  45. John H Woods Silver badge


    Not that I would ever develop using it, as I prefer to use an IDE where I can just highlight some text and execute it ... but because I spend a good chunk of my life reading and analysing truly enormous text files.

    Emacs' combination of managing huge files, macros and regexes seems to me to be unbeatable in this regard. I have - more often than you would believe, received a million line log file with the dates in US format instead of ISO format.

    It takes 20 seconds to write:

    replace: "^\([0-9][0-9]\)/\([0-9][0-9]\)/\([0-9][0-9]\)" with: "20\3-\1-\2" and about 10 seconds to execute it. Job done.

    1. eulampios

      Re: Emacs

      It takes 20 seconds to write:

      replace: "^\([0-9][0-9]\)/\([0-9][0-9]\)/\([0-9][0-9]\)" with: "20\3-\1-\2" and about 10 seconds to execute it. Job done.

      Exactly! Replacement with a regex construct like "^\([0-9]+\)/\([0-9]+\)/\([0-9]+\)" , which you can type in by making up the first scope and a slash, kill it and do

      C-y C-y C-y . Takes even less.

      You could also accomplish this with another Emacs' delicacy and the date utility. Just run-sheell command on the region (when it is marked) with

      M-1 M-|

      for d in $(cat -); do date --date="$d" +%Y-%m-%d;done <ENTER>

      or more justifiable complexity:

      "for d in $(cat -); do date --date="$d" +%Y-%b-%d,\ %A;done "

  46. Jonjonz

    Not another text editor fanboy opus

    If I had a nickel for every text editor fan boy opus, I would have retired years ago.

    Notepad++, what programmer even looks at icons? Those are for noobs.

  47. Ross 12


    it's free, it works, and even has some nice plugins to make it even more programmer-friendly.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: GEdit

      GEdit sounds like the ending of a bad joke…

  48. Rich 2 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Used jedit almost exclusively for years now. Multi--platform (as long as you have a JVM), extendable, very reliable, understands pretty much every language ever invented (or you can describe a new one to it if it doesn't know it), etc etc.

    Some of the plugins can be a tad ropey, but on the whole highly recommended.

  49. JDX Gold badge

    Your computer sucks

    If it takes you a long time to wait for VS to boot up (not to load a project, just to load a file) you are doing it wrong.

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: Your computer sucks

      it's not always down to the computer, extensions to VS can cause load times to extend massively.

      My work PC, a band new 8 core, 8GB Ram beast takes about 2 minutes to fire up VS,

      my home laptop, 6 years old, dual core 2GB Ram takes about 20 seconds.

      Work PC has the full Red Gate SQL Server package and BIDS Helper

      Personal Laptop has only the BIDS Helper VS Extenstion installed

  50. Christopher O'Neill

    Emacs + Evil

    The extensibility of Emacs combined with the editing power of Vim. Unbeatable.

    1. Aaron Em

      Re: Emacs + Evil

      You do know that, by combining Emacs and vi, your major accomplishment is likely to be drawing fire from both sides of the eternal holy war?

      1. eulampios

        Re: Emacs + Evil

        You do know that, by combining Emacs and vi, your major accomplishment is likely to be drawing fire from both sides of the eternal holy war?

        I offer a truce for you: use the viper-mode in GNU Emacs ;-)

        1. Rukario

          Re: Emacs + Evil

          vi is the root of all evil

          vi vi vi is the Mark of the Beast

  51. Paul 87

    Personally, I favoured Textpad as it was the only application I could find which would happily cope with opening and editing multi-GB SQL backups. Yes, it'd be nice if our development team hadn't needed me to do this in the first place but hey, that's IT for ya.

  52. Jonathan 27

    Out of Date

    Your impression of Visual Studio's launch time seems out of date. A modern computer (even without an SSD) only takes a few seconds to launch Visual Studio 2012. With an SSD, it's a fraction of that. Not that I use it to modify batch files, I switched to PowerShell a few years ago.

    P.S. Eclipse is still slow. If I'm on Linux I just use VIM or gedit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Out of Date

      You're missing the point. You shouldn't need to buy a quad core 3ghz machine SSD, with several gb's of memory just to open a text editor though.

      Microsoft products never cease to amaze me with their bloat.

      Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 the ISO file is 1.5GB.

      Seriously... what is in there!

      Textpad 6 is still happily using < 10mb.

      I'm fairly sure in all MS products there's lines of code like:

      //We need to slow down our product to make Intels latest processors look better

      if (processorDoesNotHaveLatestSuperHybridCacheExtensionsInstalled)


      startHardDiskCrunchingDelay( versionOfProduct * delayrate * monthsSinceProcessorProductionDate^3 );


      1. HoPo

        Re: Out of Date

        Who cares how big is an editor, as long as it increases productivity. I sometimes code in C# and I can tell you VS2012 it is an absolute joy to code/debug/test/collaborate in. The integrated debugger is just a bliss. Programmers debug, real programmers use proper debuggers. I'm so absolutely sick of people writing to stdout to simply trace through a function, just so that they don't have to deal with some shitty debugger interface.

        Is VS2012 ideal? No, but this is what an Integrated Development Environment is suppose to be like. It is suppose to abstract you from the all pluming so that you can actually do the task at hand. I program in a variety of other languages and I have yet to see another overall experience like vs2012.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Out of Date

          I use VS day in day out and agree it's pretty good to use. In fact I'd go as far to say it was my favorite IDE until I came recently across IntelliJ for Java/Android development. IntelliJ showed me how things could be and I have to admit VS hasn't seemed quite the same since. IntelliJ is significantly more intelligent. I believe adding ReSharper by the same company would help matters but that will have to wait for the next IT budget (since I've spent this one on new hardware to run VS).

          For reference IntelliJ circa 300mb installed.

          Do I really care how much space it takes up? No not really. What I do care about is having to upgrade my computer every few years just for Microsoft products and very little else.

  53. Dave 62
    Thumb Up


    Good stuff, as usual. The truth thinly veiled as humour, not that it didn't raise a smile, perhaps thickly veiled?

    I prefer ++ and never noticed or gave a toss about the icon. It ticks the same boxes, just handled a large er.. zip file just fine. I think the regex is a bit fussy in it too.

    "Sublime" is forever ruled out for its use of the word expresso. Espresso would be nauseatingly pretentious enough but spelling it the idiots way too.. ouch. Or was that the one you made up?

  54. mark 63 Silver badge

    so whats the verdict?

    all bets are off and back to notepad++ ?

    I'm using that but occasionally CTRL shortcuts stop working and it .. oh never mind..

  55. Kubla Cant

    The little things that annoy

    I'm a long-term TextPad user, but my current job only had Notepad++ available. These are the little things that annoy me - if anyone can tell me the solution, I'd be grateful:

    1. No way to see more than one edit window at a time, so I spend my life trying to remember Tab 1 and Tab 9 while I'm editing in Tab 20.

    2. Every search and replace displays a stupid dialog telling me how many replacements it did. It isn't modal, so you can ignore it, but it stays around, so by the end of the day you have several dozen of them patiently waiting for acknowledgement.

    3. The replace dialog is also non-modal, so you tend to leave it open. But it clears the Replace in selected text setting after every search. The result is that sooner or later you accidentally replace something in the whole file.

    4. The keystroke to lowercase text is Ctrl-U. WTF?

    1. Dave 62

      Re: The little things that annoy

      1. Right click tab > move to other view gives you at least 2 tabs at once.

      You could add tabs 1 and 9 to the second view so only those 2 tabs are on the second view.

      2. Er...

      3. It also has a "replace in all open documents button" Try not to hit that by mistake.

      4. In case you ate your caps lock?

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: The little things that annoy

        1. Thanks, that's useful.

        4. I spend a large proportion of my time modifying stuff that already exists. I don't know of a way to use the caps lock to change the case of existing text, do you?

        1. Dave 62

          Re: The little things that annoy

          4. ah sorry I misunderstood, to be honest I've never used that function of ++

          If you don't like the keystroke why don't you do it with regex?

          1. Dave 62

            Re: The little things that annoy

            Better yet record a macro of that keystroke and assign your preferred keystroke to that macro.

            Alternatively use Settings > shortcut mapper.

            srs tho, y u no leik ctrl+u?

            1. Kubla Cant

              Re: The little things that annoy

              Now that I've corresponded extensively on the matter, Ctrl-U is probably engraved on my brain. The problem is always with things that I don't do often enough to remember the key. The same consideration means that it would never be worth creating a macro or assigning a different key.

              I found Ctrl-U a bit bizarre because most editors I've used think U stands for Uppercase and L for Lowercase.

              Settings > shortcut mapper looks worth investigating.

              1. Rimpel

                Re: The little things that annoy

                Except in visual studio where ctrl-u is lowercase and ctrl-shift-u is uppercase and has been for as long as I can remember

  56. John Sanders


    In this order:




    UltraEdit 12 (Windows/Wine)

  57. William Boyle

    All of this aside

    I still prefer nedit - a free programmer's editor courtesy of the US Fermi National Laboratory, now in the PD on The only downside to it that I can tell is it's reliance on X-Windows for display. So, on Windows, I use Cygwin. On Linux... well, it just works, and is a standard editor for a number of distributions.

  58. John G Imrie

    Real programmers ...

    use buterfles

    1. Aaron Em

      Real programmers

      use a nine-volt battery, an unfolded paper clip, and a steady hand.

  59. fortran

    Make mine emacs

    I prefer emacs, or clones of emacs. From the DOS days, epsilon was a useful clone of emacs. I've seldom had to work with the LISP side of emacs, that it is LISP is almost irrelevent.

    Some have accused emacs of being an O/S. I believe QNX-4 allowed a person to bind a program to the kernel, which meant you could actually boot emacs on a computer.


  60. Dummy00001

    A decade ago I've spent a week learning the VIM editor (no, not vi, but VIM).

    It really payed off more than any other week I've spent learning anything.

    If vertical blocks or regexps or macros or abbreviations can't do it, then VimScript for sure can.

  61. MJI Silver badge


    I used to love the DOS version, used it for years with Clipper code

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TADREP problem

    The TADREP problem... Isn't this what awk is for?

  63. Sarev

    Zap on RISC OS

    It's worth using RISC OS just to use Zap. Mind you, it's probably as hard as vi to the uninitiated.

  64. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Real programmers

    use a hex editor.

    Why recompile something when its only off by a couple of bytes?

    1. eulampios

      Re: Real programmers

      or just a hex-mode in emacs?

      1. daveeff

        Re: Real programmers

        In my first programming job, where we wrote assembler & blew eproms, there were a few units with paper based terminals so you had to line edit (sometimes a queue), one VDU unit with a full screen editor (always a queue) and one old boy who used to type hex into some box that threw it straight onto the prom.

        Colour coded syntax? Even the VDU was black & white.

        Back at university you could write code in pencil and get it typed for you or you could type it yourself on the punch card machines.

        And there were 150 of us living in't shoebox in't middle o' road.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gah, now look what you did..

    You woke up the EMACS users, it truly is the Opera of text editors (or maybe the other way around). Anyhow, kill it with fire!

  66. Dave, Portsmouth

    Does Excel count? :o)

    For rearranging your table of values, is it bad that I'd have used Excel? Paste them in as CSV so each value gets its own cell, and concat a string together that you can copy and paste back into Notepad! Easy peasy... if not quite so elegant...

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Does Excel count? :o)

      Here's even better - we run Groupwise here, and users are frequently wanting mailing lists created for one thing or another. I've tried in past times to teach users how to create their own Groupwise NAB files, but for most, it's waaay too much techno-magic-mumb0-jumbo. So now I tell them if they'll send me a list of the email addresses they want in the list, I'll create a file that they can import. So Excel gets primary duty to tweak the files they send, then Notepad gets cleanup duty of replacing commas with "," (quote comma quote) and a few other things, since Groupwise requires each field to be quoted.

      I've thought about trying to do it in Powershell, but don't know if it would really save that much time. Excel + Notepad gets the job done in < 5 minutes for all but the most ridiculously long lists.

    2. eulampios

      Re: Does Excel count? :o)

      This is fine, although can be done inside Emacs and running awk/sed/perl or whatever you like on it. Mind you, it has its own spreadsheet mode called org-mode. which is pretty awesome by itself.

  67. GrizzlyCoder

    I couldn't find one so I wrote one

    Hey all, I can see exactly where stob is coming from cos I searched for something that could "mung" her example into the output she specified and there is NOWT out there. So I wrote my own. You can find it at under the Textreme button and it will do all bar one of what stob asked of it -- the move of field 2 to the end. If you want to see the 3 functions that almost get there look here: So....time to add function number 9 methinks!

    The moral is: you want summat doing, do it thi'sen!


  68. ericstob


    Not sure if troll or serious.

    1. GrizzlyCoder

      Re: um

      Sorry, can't see anything "trollish" about my post -- I couldn't find a quick and easy to use tool to do what Ms Stob gave as an example so I wrote one using AutoIt - give it a try if you think I am 'avin a larf.

      I will now add a "Move" function because it couldn't do one of the 4 requirements. Seemples.


  69. GrizzlyCoder

    Back on topic

    As far as editors go, mine of choice is Notepad++ for the many built-in lexers and the fact that it reopens everything you had open before (important for me because I shut down each evening but it gets me back up and running that bit quicker next day)

    Also the search/replace function is a masterpice

  70. platy puss

    editing text

    I have enjoyed:

    BBC Micro split cursor copy and paste forward - that was super useful;

    ISPF on IBM mainframe - that was good for a lot of TADREP work;

    Excel - and still use it now for some TADREP. As long as it's not a big data file, obviously;

    np++ Oh happy day when I heard of this. Have mug and T-shirt.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you encode the DNA of the Ebola virus into hex, save it as a file, set the execute bit, then run it, it is indistinguishable from Emacs.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fancy text editor?

    Kate. Quick text editor: Kate. Console text editor: whatever is installed. (Humor follows.) Why are there so many Windows devs here? I even saw an oxymoron in the comments: Windows Server.

  73. Anonymous Coward

    One size doesn't fit all, surely

    The sysadmin's editor of choice doesn't and probably shouldn't be the developer's, surely?

    When I'm called in to fix some box that some git has deep-sixed, I want something predictable, small and lightweight. That normally means vi, which gets bonus points for working in line mode for when faeces and fan are intimately acquainted.

    On the other hand when I'm noodling around in some XML monstrosity, like a web page that has passed through the seventh circle of the Inferno and is now in Purgatory, I want something that does all the beautification, indenting, tag matching and suchlike for me. I can use vi, and sometimes out of laziness/muscle-memory I do, but the other editors are better. I am not a big fan of notepad++ but it works.

    Then there are the monster log files, and here I have so far failed to find a way for vi to play. Editors like Visual SlickEdit don;t attempt to load the whole file, so they load a chunk quickly and then quietly load the chunks around your cursor. vi on the other hand tries to slurp it all in and then falls over.

  74. cs94njw
    Thumb Down

    I liked Sublime initially, I really did. I wanted it to be perfect.

    But... it was the little things. You know, I've already forgotten what they were, but UltraEdit managed them well enough.

    1. HoPo

      Agreed. I tried loving it....but it eventually failed me. Now I just use it like a fancy editor, nothing more.

  75. Frumious Bandersnatch


    Sharewere (yes, I think it's part wolf) from the early '90s. Such a generic name(*) that Google has problems dredging up references. At least it did most of the stuff I'd expect from an emacs-like editor, which is really what we're talking about here, no?

    * at least it's not as bad as "List", which was the premier more/less replacement of those times.

  76. HoPo

    I moved on....

    Early in my career I had the exceptional privilege to work with a colleague who happened to be a hardcore vi user. It didn't take me long to notice how he resembled a demented monkey bashing the keyboard to do mundane tasks that can be done with a couple of mouse clicks. I moved on.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It took 4 pages of arguing about vi and emacs before someone mentioned this little beauty.

    An emacs clone, with c-like script language rather than lisp, that works on DOS, Windows, Apple and Linux and when you buy it, you get the version for all OSs.

    I'm still using it today.

    I remember introducing it to a company back in the late '90s and a few weeks after doing so being accused by a manager of instigating bad practise. Apparently a major bug had been coded in by someone and the manager in question said, in all seriousness, that it was due to people coding too quickly and not having time to think about what they write.

  78. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Love it, love it, LOVE IT!!

    Meanwhile, the hard disk rumbles ominously under the strain of fat, juicy .NET components dropping ploppily into vast expanses of RAM, like ambiguously sauced and -sourced meat products being poured into the strata of a low-budget, lasagne-style ping meal.

    Note that's the way to start a Tuesday! Nicely done!

  79. toddiuszho


    My fav is still EditPad. Not only does it do full Perl regex, the dev team even wrote one of the best websites on learning/referencing regex.

    Notepad++ and UltraEdit are also solid choices. Most of my co-workers use nagware Textpad and install it everywhere, and man do I hate it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EditPad

      Ahem if you happened to edit the textpad exe in a certain IDE, find the nag dialog in the resources and delete it then it no longer nags... ahem.

      Or just buy it.

  80. TheRead

    Happy Belated Birthday

    This Dave fella seems like a hoopy frood.

  81. All names Taken

    You know, there are far more beautiful things in life.

    For example, Barcelona v AC Milan


    1. Martin

      Not if you're an AC Milan fan...

  82. h3

    I use vi (Or perl -e / perl -pi) (System Administration).

    emacs - programming.

    notepad++ - misc stuff on Windows.

    Dunno why he doesn't like lisp probably he doesn't get it.

    (Any program of reasonably complexity likely reimplements a worse version of lisp).

    The good bits of C++0x / lua are based on lisp ideas. Much easier to use them if you learnt them earlier.

  83. awkman


    TADREP: Clearly a job for awk. For the given data snippet it is:

    #!/usr/bin/gawk -f


    gsub(/[ \t]*$/, "") # remove trailing white space

    split($0,a,", ") # split fields on ", "

    printf(" db.add(\"%s\", \"%s\", \"%s\", %s);\n", a[1], a[3], a[4], a[2])


    Took me 2 minutes to write ...

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fonts on your screenshot made my eyes bleed


  85. Kiwi


    Am I the only one who remembers this little gem?

    When I was introduced to it it could open gigabyte sized files. I wondered if I'd ever use that function since gig-sized disks were still a way off (at least for me on my budget).

    Or is the lack of mention because the mists of time have faded my memory, and anyone else would be really embarrased to even acknowledge it's existence?

  86. CyrixInstead


    I use NotePad++, and on a non-programming point I particularly like the plugin to copy code to the clipboard with the highlighting colour intact.

    But does anyone anyone use ConTEXT these days?

This topic is closed for new posts.