Anyone who is into coding or web development needs a tool to write their beautiful code with. A suitable text editor for coding is a program that allows you to write clean text files without any formatting. These files can contain code in various different programming languages.
Since there are plenty of great text editors for coding out there, finding the best one for your needs and personal preferences can sometimes feel a bit tricky.
To make things easier for you, this post will introduce you to 5 free text editors that you can use for programming and web development. All of these code editors are great and they’ll do the trick for you. However, there are a few differences that I’ll be pointing out to make your choice easier.
If you’re just beginning with learning coding, check out this Free Coding Guide for Beginners to help you get started!
Why you need a text editor for coding
If you’re just starting out with coding, you might be asking: why do I need a text editor in the first place?
Why not just use a “normal” text processor like Word for writing your programs?
The answer is quite simple: conventional text processing tools like MS Word can’t output clean text files.
If you try to save your code file written in Word, you will notice different formatting and styling elements in it. For example, the file can include different fonts, text decorations, or alignment rules.
With formatting like this, you can’t execute your text file as a code file on your computer.
In short: a suitable text editor for coding outputs clean code files – and that’s exactly what you want!
What a text editor can do
Text editors come with various features that are helpful for writing code and avoiding typos, errors, and bugs.
Most editors also allow you to work more efficiently on larger projects with practical tools for managing multiple code files and folders at the same time.
Here are just a few of the great benefits a good text editor for coding brings along:
1. Syntax highlighting
Syntax highlighting is definitely one of the best features of a good text editor for coding. Different elements are highlighted in different colors, making it easier to read and scan through your code files.
With syntax highlighting, you can spot errors more easily and read your text file more quickly.
2. Managing files and folders
Different text editors come with different solutions for managing larger projects with multiple files and folders.
Most editors allow you to open multiple text files simultaneously in different tabs and panes, making it easier to edit them at the same time.
3. Project navigation and organization
Moreover, a good text editor has an option to display your project folders and files in a navigation tree on either side of the text editing interface.
That way, you can easily find all relevant files to open and edit them when necessary.
3. Search and replace function
This feature is one of my favourites, allowing me to work more efficiently when I decide to rename a variable or a function, for example.
When using a text editor for coding, you can search and replace any element with just a few clicks.
The find-and-replace functionality is particularly handy when you import an existing piece of code to your most current project. Perhaps you’ve already written a good program for a project in the past that you can reuse in a new one. With a good text editor, you can quickly rename your variables and other elements to match the ones within your current project.
4. Syntax auto-complete tools
This is a rather broad category, but it mainly refers to any further, helpful features for writing and managing your code files.
For example, I really love how my text editor automatically inserts the correct closing tag for my HTML elements. Whenever I create an opening tag for a paragraph element, <p>, my text editor automatically adds a closing tag after that, </p>.
With this feature, I don’t have to worry about forgetting to close my tags. This saves me a lot of time as I don’t need to find those missing closing tags by myself anymore.
Moreover, in case I manage to delete the closing tag for some reason, my text editor helps me spot the error by highlighting the element that’s missing a closing tag.
5. FTP integration
With FTP integration, you can open your project folders and files directly from your web server.
That way, any changes you make will be saved directly on your web server via FTP. This will simply save you time, since you don’t need to upload the files you’ve edited manually via FTP anymore.
Best text editors for coding and web development
Ok, time to get down to business!
The following list includes 5 free text editors for coding. All of them are suitable for beginners and they’re not in any particular order.
If your favorite text editor for coding is missing in the list, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
1. Sublime Text
Ok I know I just said the text editors are in no particular order here.
Sublime Text is a cross-platform text editor for Mac, Windows, and Linux. It comes with a variety of great, helpful features. It’s easy to use, it looks great, and it’s fast to work with.
Moreover, you can also change the appearance of Sublime Text to make it better suited for your personal preferences.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
Price: Free trial / $80 for a single license
Brackets is another great text editor for coding. Created by Adobe, it is all about good design and integration with further Adobe products.
Hence, if you’re an Adobe fan and you’re already using their other software, consider giving Brackets a try.
Brackets hasn’t been around for that long, but from what I’m hearing it’s quickly becoming more popular.
The design is very minimal, but the features are quite impressive. For example, the Extract tool allows you to extract data directly from a PSD file. This could include information such as fonts and colors as clean CSS code. Pretty neat!
Another cool feature for web developers is the Live Preview function. It allows you to see the changes you’re making in your code directly in your web browser.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
Notepad++ is an open-source text editor for Windows. Along with Sublime Text, it’s also very well suited for beginners.
Notepad++ is easy to get started with and it comes with great, helpful features. One of them is the built-in FTP plugin that allows you to open and edit your files directly on your web server.
Atom is a text editor I used to work with some time ago. I can fully recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re just beginning with learning coding.
Atom is developed by GitHub and it’s still quite a newbie in the realm of text editors for coding.
What makes Atom interesting are the various open-source packages for customization. Much like with WordPress themes, Atom users can create themes for the code editor.
The different customizations help you to improve the usability of Atom, adapting it’s features and interface to better suit your needs. Of course, the different themes also allow you to simply make Atom look nicer.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
ICEcoder is a free, browser-based text editor for coding. This is good news for anyone who prefers to do everything in one single window on their computer.
When you’re using ICEcoder, all you need for developing a website is your web browser. In one single window, you can create and edit your code files and see the changes in your front-end on another tab.
ICEcoder works both online and offline, so you can do your coding while you’re off the grid, too, or traveling.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux
Summing it up: finding the best text editor for coding
I hope you found this post helpful for finding a suitable code and text editor for you.
Like I said, keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time with your text editor. Therefore, it’s important to find the best possible tool to keep things running smoothly for you.
Ultimately, it is your text editor that will help you become more efficient and productive with writing code.
As with all things, when it comes to writing code, we all have different personal preferences. Someone might find a specific feature in a text editor helpful, while others don’t really feel like they need it at all.
Therefore, go ahead try out a couple of text editors to find the best one for your specific needs.
Furthermore, please feel free to share your thoughts on your favourite text editor for coding in the comments below. Which one have you been using and what features do you like the most?