[Community Discussion] What text editor is the best for development?

Hello developers!

I know most of us come from different verticals and have different goals with our development projects, but some of the tools we use may be the same. I know my go-to editor when I tried my hand at coding was Sublime (https://www.sublimetext.com/). I would be interested to hear what others use and why they use them.

@dave.calkins @jamestruax @Jonathan

For me its definitely Visual Studio Code. Its fast, highly customizable, supports web and desktop development, is available on all platform and it has a vast extension ecosystem (I highly recommend GitHub Copilot for near magical code completion).

1 Like

+1 for Visual Studio Code.
Great customizability, many extensions to choose from that support a wide array of environments and projects, and it provides all the tools I need to develop or debug, without sacrificing low level control (if needed). It is more than an editor, with integrated terminals, source control integration, debugging, etc, but does not lean on the full, abstracted features of a fully built IDE, allowing you to have all the development tools you need without sacrificing control. As someone who frequently works across Mac, Linux, and Windows, it is also a great cross platform editor, where I can have the (mostly) same dev environment on each machine, regardless of platform. It’s also not so hipster that I need to worry about it being unsupported tomorrow.

I am also a fan of Sublime for editing - for similar reasons with customizability. I use this more when I am making quick edits or just quickly viewing a file. Basically any editor I can set to a dark theme is excellent, right…?

But Chris, “Blah blah, but vim is cool too, blah blah.” I know. I’m just not. :smiley:

1 Like

Another +1 for VS Code for web dev. The plugins for Azure, AWS, Git, and LiveServe make development and deployment extremely easy. An added plus is that it is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. I do most of my development on Windows but having a familiar interface on other OSs when I use them makes context switching easy.

I use Notepad++ for quick edits and it is usually one of the first things that I install on a remote Windows server that I might be working on. It also sits in my windows right-click context menu. Notepad++ is lightweight, can handle large files, and has a helpful linter when looking at JSON or XML.

For desktop development, I almost exclusively use full blown Visual Studio. I know it is possible to do so with VS Code, but I’m a creature of habit and have been using VS for 20+ years.


It’s not just the 4 of us that think VSCode is the way to go. The Stack Overflow Developer Survey once again lists VSCode as the number one used IDE:

1 Like

I agree on all these points and its true that I also use full Visual Studio for desktop development.

One thing to “note” on notepad++, while it is fast and lightweight Visual Studio Code actually handles very large text files better. For example notepad++ cannot open the Hospital.ifc file while Visual Studio has no problems with it.

1 Like

I am on the same page. I generally use Visual Code these days, but still have an affinity for Emacs (couldn’t get use to the Vim bindings) to create on the fly macros for mass code updates and edits.

1 Like

For day to day editing of files and keeping notes during meetings and such, I use Sublime text. It seems to handle large files well and has some nice plugins that I like, for example the vi bindings…

1 Like

For my day to day coding, I’m mostly in Visual Studio, using the Adobe Source Code Pro font, dark mode, and the Resharper suite from JetBrains. If you haven’t tried that font, I’d highly recommend it.

I also end up using Notepad++ heavily for opening log/output files, etc and find it works really well. The comment from @guido makes a good point. I have had really large diagnostic log files that cause Notepad++ to take awhile to deal with. So could be it’s not as good when the size gets up there.

We use git and I recently discovered an interesting git interface called Magit (https://magit.vc/). Magit is a text based UI which runs inside Emacs. I had used Emacs extensively at a previous job but hadn’t touched it for years. This inspired me to try it out and do a bit of Emacs learning so I could then try Magit. It has not yet grown on me, but I keep trying here and there and am thinking it may be a neat way to interface with a git repo. I still mostly use the git command line but this one has me intrigued.