Text (code) editor ups and downs

It’s strange how certain types of apps bring out emotions, (loyalty for one) and code editors certainly fit into that category.

Starting with Dreamweaver many years ago (oh those nested tables!) once I embraced a CSS based workflow I switched to Sublime Text, which I stuck with for a good while. Yes I strayed sometimes (Brackets, Atom etc) but for me ST seemed to be the best.

Of course like everyone I moved to VSCode which without doubt is well maintained, iterating and very powerful, probably too powerful for what I need and while I wanted to follow the cool kids, I always had a sense that something in VSCode (for me anyway) did not gel.

On to Panic’s Nova app which I liked, native Mac app, fast with pretty much the features I need, downside development seems slow and effectively a subscription model to receive updates.

Back to Sublime Text, (V4) which I do like but really does not seem to have moved on much in the years I have been away. It works, is fast it does what I need but feels, well a bit old.

So after taking some time over the Christmas break to actually review what I need and want from my code editor I have gone back to Nova. I know it’s not fashionable but it handles the small subset of languages and frameworks I use well, loads quickly and has excellent SFTP, GIT and Terminal functions built in.

So here I am, probably not settled but currently happy to be bucking the trend once again.:flushed:


I agree that code editors have always had a special place in my heart. EditPlus and vi for the many years I programmed on Windows PCs and Unix servers.

Was BBEdit never a consideration for you on the Mac? I guess it is probably considered old fashioned these days. I don’t do much coding anymore, but I keep a BBEdit window loaded as a handy tool that does just about anything.


I tried BBedit but it’s SFTP implementation I just did not like… Ideally I need a text editor which allows for file publish to remote servers and when trying BBedit I needed to use Transmit all the time.

VSCode’s SFTP plugin(s) kept failing, Sublime Text’s worked fine, and Nova’s is just an integral part of the app (given that Panic bundled a paired down version of Transmit into Nova).

That said there have been a couple of cases where only Bbedit would do the text manipulation I needed, removing hidden/invisble characters from an errant UNIX database.

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For development I use BBEdit + Transmit + Terminal on the Mac and Textastic + Blink on the iPad and really enjoy the experience of both setups. I should probably explore VSCode ('cause that’s what the kids these days uses :slight_smile: ) but I’m in a, “If it ain’t broke…” kind of place at the moment :slight_smile:

I’ve been curious about Nova too, so maybe I’ll give that a try. I liked its predecessor with some annoyances that I tolerated because the app existed on both platforms.

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I’m a Sublime Text die hard. I tried BBEdit, but found it sluggish on my macs.
Nova Java support isn’t great and wasn’t keen on VS Code.

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Indeed! That is why I never get tired of people writing about them.

Man, you guys are depressing me! VSCode isn’t cool. The kids have no idea why they’re using it, other than it’s free and there, unless they’re serious about specific applications like TypeScript that the VSCode team has worked hard on supporting and spreading. Kids love being exposed to better editors and extensions. Some of same dynamics as in any generation apply as far as making changes to tooling more likely to stick, although with younger developers you have a better chance of appealing to what they use in their off time. (Source: not a kid, work with kids.)

Anyway, I lately type in Nova for small personal projects for the fun factor, but I still use Sublime, especially for huge files. I also work with a team that uses VSCode for live collaboration so that gets mixed in. I came to the Mac too late to get hooked on BBEdit, sadly.

I also use Jetbrains apps and I’ll tend to set them up for any project that becomes complex, or where I know I’ll be referencing a bunch of methods and properties in unfamiliar code. Their tools have become a lot nicer to use since I got an M1 Max and they launched Apple Silicon compatibility. Their UIs have traditionally been sluggish but they make good use of the GPU on the Max, with frequent spikes at 60-80% usage to stay adequately smooth.

All that and enough vim to stay comfortable when I’m sshing into something for a quick edit or troubleshoot…

I’ve never found anything I prefer more than vim. I know, I know.

I was delighted when Apple put vim bindings in Xcode.

In the good old days there used to be two camps: vi and emacs. I was firmly in the emacs camp. In fact I really started program editing on the computer with TECO, which certainly dates me. Although to date me more my first programs were edited on a keypunch.

Anyway, being of the emacs camp I got Epsilon in the late 1980’s which I used in MSDOS, Windows, OS/2, Linux, and Mac. I still have it but because of an absence due to a delayed 64-bit rewrite I now primarily use BBEdit on Mac.

Naturally, when I’m using an IDE I inevitably use the built-in editor.

I make a port of TECO still available (free) at Tape Editor and COrector -- TECO!
And Epsilon is still available ($$$) at Lugaru Epsilon
My most frequently used IDE is at Arduino IDE


I was most definitely being tongue in cheek there, but a lot of developers who I know and respect do use it, which makes me think that maybe it’s at least worth a look. Whether or not I find the time to actually try it out is an open question :slight_smile:

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Gotta say, I think a lot of schools and online educational tutorials default to “what’s free”, so that may be part of it too. Once you get used to using something, the switching cost is a reason to not try other options.

Personally, I tried VSCode and goofed with it for awhile. I stopped using it for the same reason I don’t use Linux on my desktop. “Oh, you want to do ______? There’s a free plugin that lets you do that.” And after a Google, the plugin either doesn’t exist anymore, has next-to-zero documentation, or the first page of Google results are people talking about how to fiddle with things to get it to work.

The “we use it because it’s cheap/free” mentality reminds me of a Siracusa line a ways back. I don’t remember it exactly, but along the lines of: “that should be Android’s slogan. ‘It’s $50, and it’s fine.’” :slight_smile:

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CodeEdit project looks excellent

TextEdit + Xcode = CodeEdit

CodeEdit is currently in development and we do not yet offer a download.
We will post a link here when we have an alpha release ready for testing. Until then, we welcome contributors to help bring this project to life.

Also I think CodeRunner deserves a mention. I find it works when I just want to edit/run scripts etc. & don’t need full blown development environment/project management.

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:laughing: Laughs in Obsidian.


I’ve been eyeing VS Code. I need something that can run Jupyter Notebooks, and has editing features and variable inspection. I shouldn’t have to stick print()s everywhere to debug.
Would also be nice to have vim-ish editing so I don’t have to ride the cursor keys all the time.

Textmate has been my go to “just need an editor quick” on the Mac for a long time. When I used it heavily writing my open source project, I even tweaked a bundle for syntax highlighting a C-ish language. Alas, it’s getting slow to start the first time after login. Haven’t done any troubleshooting yet.

I used TECO on a PDP-11/23 system that was used as a front end (basically a terminal) for HP mini-computer-based systems I used to service. 8” floppies, 180k on each, mounted under a table just right so you always banged your knee on it, etc. It was better than a card reader, but took up as much space as a IBM punch, and then some. I guess that’s the origin of my fondness for EMACS.

Been thinking about neovim lately, but pretty sure Doom Emacs, Spacemacs, etc. have incorporated all of vim’s great editing features.

Reminiscence out.

I love Panic’s Nova. When I was writing Python code it was my go-to editor. However, my current off-season job has me writing julia code, and that’s not well supported in Nova (or anywhere other than VS Code, really). Add in the fact that everyone else in the company is using VS Code and it’s really the only choice. I don’t have the love for it that I do for Nova, but it gets the job done quite well.

I use Code Editors for living, this is the piece of software I use the most.
I have been using VS Code for a good 3 years now, till they recently pushed an update that makes one of the main plugins I use to break (CustomizeUI), which allows me to customize every aspect of the app UI.

I am now investing a good chunk of Q1 to move to NeoVIM + tmux completely. I still need to move all my workflows.

SublimeText: becomes slow for me to edit TypeScript and Prisma
Nova: is completely unusable for Typescript and they for sure don’t care.

I am confident that NeoVIM will be the best choice as it’s the most powerful editor of all time. It’s just the steepest learning curve.

I learned to create HTML pages using BBEdit Lite back around, I dunno, 1997? I still use it daily, used it for my limited use of Perl, but use it a lot for HTML, CSS, text clean-up and manipulation, certain kind of writing.

My reading notes mostly end up as static local HTML pages, created with BBEdit, but also using BBEdit Clippings and TextExpander.


I use BBEdit, but I used to use Vim. I’ve still got a fairly complex vim config, lots of plugins, custom functions etc… The thing about Vim is that it’s easy to shoot yourself in the foot if you don’t get the config right. (line breaks… so weird) The other thing about Vim is that there are so. many. key-combos. So many. With BBEdit my code editor works the same way the rest of my Mac does. And, the deeper I dig in with BBEdit, the more I discover how functional it is.

In the end, like every other type of app, you should use whatever you are most comfortable with and whatever actually helps you get your job done best. Everything else is wasting time. And Vim… I wasted a lot of time on Vim.


Good example of this was trying to print a recipe I used at the family Christmas gathering this year. None of my many plain text and Markdown tools was giving me what I wanted, so I fired up Apple’s Pages word processor and quickly produced what I was aiming for. Nice app, that Pages! :slightly_smiling_face:


That I think sums up a lot of feelings on software, I can get the job done in VSCode, Sublime Text, etc etc. I just have an affinity for Nova. The same applies to Task managers, I can get the job done (and have) in ToDoist, Things and Omnifocus, I just have a special liking for Omnifocus. Same applies to browsers, streaming services, cloud storage and I am sure a lot more. Some seems to “fit” some don’t.

I guess I could justify any software decision semi rationally, but I think in some part that’s just to make myself feel better. It really may just come down to a vague emotion in the end.