Finding the best text editor for programming and web development can save you a ton of time. When you find the right tool, you can focus on what really matters: writing efficient code to create useful programs.
If you’re just getting started with learning to code, it’s difficult to find the best text editor for coding. They all come with a few key features you should pay attention to. Some are more beginner-friendly than others, but it’s all a matter of what works for you. Therefore, testing at least a few code editors is a good idea.
To help you get started, we’ll look at a few of the best free text editors you can use for coding. I’ve included powerful tools for three major platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you’re looking for the best web development tools out there, you’re in the right place!
Here are a couple of related articles you may want to read, too:
- The Best Websites to Learn Coding in 2019
- Why Learn Coding? 12 Benefits from Learning Programming
- How to Make Money Coding? 4 Ways to Start Earning Money as a Developer
Why you need a text editor for coding:
When you’re learning coding, you’ll need a special piece of software for writing your programs. And since you’ll be spending a lot of time with your code editor, you want to make sure you choose the best one out there.
If you’re just starting with learning to code, you should try out a few great text editors for programming to find the tool you like working with the most.
But what does a code editor do, then?
Basically, it’s just a program that allows you to write text files. But what sets a code editor apart from “normal” text processors is this:
The text you write with MS Word, for example, is packed with formatting rules. Thus, you can’t use it for writing code.
Instead, you want to find the best text editor for programming that can output clean, formatting-free text files.
Before we dive into the editors you should try out, let’s look at a few things a good code editor can do for you:
Useful features of the best code editors for programming:
Even though there’s a number of good text editors with different features available, they all have the same goal: to make writing code easier for you.
And you know, writing code isn’t exactly the hard part. But it’s what happens when your code has a bug in it.
Searching for bugs can cost a lot of time, which is why all the best text editors for programming come with a few helpful features to help you avoid any errors and bugs.
Also, most code editors allow you to work more efficiently on larger projects with multiple 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 by far the best features of a good text editor for coding.
The idea is pretty simple: different code elements will be displayed in different colors. This makes it easier to scan through your code. You can spot errors and typos much quicker, too.
#2: Folder management tools
Code editors come with useful tools for managing large projects. When you’re working with multiple files and folders, you need to maintain an overview of them.
Most text editors for programming allow you to open multiple text files simultaneously. You’ll see your files and code in different tabs and panes. This makes it easier to edit and manage them without a hassle.
#3: Search and replace function
This feature is one of my favourites! Search and replace lets you do exactly what it says: Search for a certain keyword or string and replace it with another one.
For example, let’s say you need to rename a function. If you’ve used it in several code files, renaming it manually would be a waste of time. In a code editors, you can search and replace it within all of your project files and folders. All it takes is a few clicks and you’re done.
I use search-and-replace all the time. That’s because I love to reuse code snippets from past projects – much too often. Of course, my current project has different names for variables and functions. So, all I need to do is to search and replace the old names with the new ones. Such a time-saver!
#4: Syntax auto-complete tools
This is a rather broad category, really. But I’m talking about all the helpful features code editors have for writing and managing your code files.
For example, the best text editors for programming automatically insert the correct closing tag for HTML elements. Whenever I create an opening tag for a paragraph element, <p>, my text editor 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 ton of time, really. I don’t need to find those missing closing tags by myself anymore.
Also, sometimes I manage to delete a closing tag for some reason. But my code editor spots the error right away and highlights the element that’s missing a closing tag.
#5: FTP integration
Using FTP integration in your code editor allows you to open your project folders and files directly from your web server.
Any changes you make will be saved directly on your web server via FTP. Again, you’ll save a good amount of time here. Otherwise, you’d need to upload each edited file manually to your server again.
The best text editors for programming and web development
Alright, let’s get started then!
We’ll go through the best free text editors you can use for coding on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
They’re all great, but each of them has its own pros and cons. Therefore, make sure you try at least a couple of them. It’ll help you spot the different features and choose an editor you enjoy working with the most.
Also, bear in mind that a single editor doesn’t necessarily support all programming languages. Thus, before downloading one, check whether your language is supported. If you’re coding websites, though, all of these editors should work just fine.
And hey, if your favorite code editor is missing, just drop me a line in the comments section!
1: Sublime Text
Sublime Text is my absolute favorite text editor for coding so far.
I’ve been using it ever since I first started learning programming and I haven’t looked back.
Sublime Text is a cross-platform text editor for Mac, Windows, and Linux. It comes with a variety of great, helpful features.
As with most popular code editors, you can easily work on your project with multiple tabs and folders simultaneously.
If you’re not a fan of the default appearance, you can customize it as you wish.
All in all, Sublime text is easy to use and learn, it looks great, and it’s fast to work with.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
Price: Free trial / $80 for a single license
Brackets is another great code text editor that I use regularly.
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 seeing 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.
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
6: Visual Studio Code (VS Code)
VS Code is a great text editor for web development I just tried out recently. It comes with the usual support for a bunch of languages, auto-indentation, syntax highlighting, and much more.
What makes VS stand out from the other text editors for coding is a built-in interactive debugger. And even with a feature like this, the editor still felt fast. No lags when saving, switching, or opening files.
As you start working with VS Code, you’ll quickly notice how customizable it is. The more you use it, the more it starts to become your code editor.
VS Code is an open-source project, too – so feel free to contribute to the community on GitHub!
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
When it was first released in the early 1990s, Vim was one of the best text editors for coding already. And it’s still going strong with regular updates and new scripts.
Vim is lightweight and super fast – thanks to its sleek design. It doesn’t use any fancy visual features like some of the newer code editors. Also, it’s essentially a command line text editor. You’ll do your all of your editing with keyboard shortcuts.
It can take a while to get used to Vim, though. But once you’ve found the optimal configuration to work with, you can take your settings with you. That way you can have the same experience on all devices you use.
What’s great about Vim is that thanks to its long history, you’ll find heaps of help online. After all, if you have a question about how to use it, chances are that someone’s had the same question at some point during the last three decades.
Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux
Final thoughts: Finding the best text editor for coding
All in all, what matters the most is that you find a tool you enjoy working with. Therefore, take a few of these best text editors for coding for a spin. See which ones you feel comfortable working with and pick a favorite.
At the end of the day, your text editor will be a loyal companion as the years go by. Thus, finding the best one will help you become more efficient and productive as a programmer.
That being said, I hope a few useful ideas in this article. Let me know what you think in the comments below! Which editors have you been using? What’s your favorite?
Here are a couple of related posts you should read, too:
- The Best Way to Learn Coding – Beginner’s Guide
- How to Start Learning Coding? 6 Tips for Beginners
- How to Become a Web Developer? FAQ: Careers, Salaries, and Skills
If you enjoyed this post on the best text editors for coding, just drop me a line in the comments below!
Which one have you been using? Which features in it do you like the most? Anything I should add to the list?
P.S. Share this post with others, so they can find it too. Thanks so much!