Friday, November 4, 2011

An editor that is simply Sublime

I have been a consumer of Free/Open Source software for going on 10 years now, and I love being able to use open tools whenever possible. I am also not particularly religious about it as some folks are. I'm an even bigger believer in using the best tool for the job.

Since I have started learning Ruby on Rails, I have tried out quite a few editors. Some free, some open some free but not open and some that aren't free or open. In other words, I've tried a few. I primarily use two platforms: Linux and OS X. Switching platforms doesn't bother me nearly as much as switching tools. In other words, I prefer to use the same, or very similar applications on both platforms. While I liked TextMate on the Mac, there was no TextMate on Linux (although the GMate project does a good job at making Gedit more TextMate-like). On the Mac side, I've also tried out BBEdit and TextWranger, neither of which struck any bells with me (and provided no Linux equivalent).

For most of the time I've been working with Ruby, I've been using the old standby, Vim. With Vim, I could use gVim on Linux and MacVim on OS X or Vim in a Terminal on either and feel equally at home on both platforms. While I have no real problem with fact I really love Vim, the problem is I only use about 1% of it's features and I've still only learned about 0.5% more that I don't use regularly. That leaves about 98.5% of the editor unusable by me, and I don't have time, nor do I need to take time to learn more...I have enough to learn with Ruby on Rails itself to devote a huge chunk of time to learn my main tool, the editor.

The other night, I was watching a very awesome intro to Rails screencast. I saw an editor in use during that screencast I hadn't heard of before: Sublime Text 2. Simply by just seeing it in action, I was very impressed with how elegantly simple, yet full-featured it seemed. If you check out the site, you'll see that you can evaluate it indefinitely (for now, at least), and if you decide you like it, purchase a license for around $60, which is I feel, a fair price for a powerful tool that helps you be more productive. Sublime 2 is available for all three major platforms (Lin, Win and Mac) and although I haven't tried the Windows version out yet, it feels (and looks) very similar across the Linux and OS X versions.

I'm still feeling it out, but it has some great features you can read about here.

Although I won't go into a huge amount of detail here (simply because I've spent probably only about 4 hours total using it so far), I'll mention a few of my favorite features:

  • Side by Side multi-pane editing
  • Built in automatic syntax highlighting for many languages
  • Autosave
  • Very customizable
I love the user interface - I can open a "folder" which gives me a side pane with a tree-view of my Rails project, and I can quickly breeze through multiple files, simply viewing them quickly or opening them in tabs. 

I really felt a lot more productive using it over Vim, and I'm going to continue evaluating it for a while, and see what I think, but I think my bank account is going to be $60 less full very soon.


  1. You should check out UltraEdit as well. It has been my favorite for many years on Windows... They ported it to Linux a few years ago and Mac very recently.

  2. I believe I have seen UltraEdit in the "Partner" repo for Ubuntu...I'll check it out. The only real downfall I see is that it seems each version (Win, Lin and Mac) are licensed separately which means I'd need to purchase both the Linux and Mac versions - with Sublime it's per use not per machine and I could buy one license for both my Linux box and my Mac. I'll still check it out though - looks interesting.