Text Editor Warzone

So, I was finding it all very frustrating. Windows is a well-funded operating system and yet it comes with the worst text editor imaginable.

Eventually, this week at work, I asked aloud, “Is Notepad the worst text editor of all.”

The reply I received suggested a different text editor, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Software is a strange thing, or, to be more precise, the reaction of a number of people to software is a strange thing.

The amount of arguments that I have witnessed over whether the PS3/4 or XBox is better; or whether Windows, Apple, Linux or BSD is better; or which is the best text editor. Actually, I haven’t witnessed many text editor arguments but search for text editor wars, or just editor war, and you will find that in the online world, this argument gets strangely heated. There are even mock religions for these editors (I know!).

The big fight seems to be between users of VIM and EMACS. NANO and ED are also drawn into the fight, sometimes. Well, all four of these command line editors are on my laptop and I can see the attraction with all of them. I am diving into VIM most of all, but I would love to have known of either VIM or EMACS in those days when I used to build some websites. VIM and/or EMACS would make website building more of a breeze than using an alternative GUI based text editor, such as Bluefish.

As you can tell, using Linux opens up a world of text editing possibilities. There are alternatives that you can use on Windows, but all of the editors that I am about to discuss ship with some or most Linux distros as standard.

So, what is the difference between all the editors?

There are some great GUI text editors. I’ve mentioned Bluefish, but better alternatives include gEdit, and its Mate desktop environment fork Pluma. They are both very capable and robust. The KDE Advanced Test Editor aka Kate adds more functionality to the mix, but has the downside that a number of dependencies are pulled onto your desktop environment if you are using anything other than KDE as your desktop environment.

I personally believe that even the deliberately lightweight Leafpad is more pleasant to use than Notepad, even if the functionality is not much different.

Okay, that’s my brief nod to the GUI editors that put Notepad to shame.

What are the attractions that the text based editors that I mention?

For ED, not much at all. This is a really old line based editor and is a forefather of the others, so to speak.

NANO is a simple editor which has so many more options than Notepad. The options can be gained mainly by pressing the CTRL key along with another key.

Editing my blog post draft in NANO
Editing my blog post draft in NANO

Both EMACS and VIM boast so much more. Syntax highlighting, comparing files for differences and copying different lines from one file to the other, split screens to work on multiple files simultaneously and shortcut instructions to jump around the file and manipulate text quickly and easily.

Editing my blog post using EMACS
Editing my blog post using EMACS

So, I am preferring VIM out of all the text editors at the moment. I’ve used EMACS a little bit, but I am preferring VIM. Both of these editors are fantastic.

Editing my blog post using VIM
Editing my blog post using VIM

Anyway, just a quick tip if you are using VIM. If you want to paste the contents of your copy buffer from outside of the VIM, there is an easy way to do it. Just type the following command
“+gP

That snippet of advice seems to be hard to come by.

Oh, yes, which was the editor that my work colleague suggested as worse than Notepad? WordPad! Man, that suggestion is so right.

I searched for any uses for WordPad and one posting suggested that it can save RTF files. Okay, it can save RTF files but any text editor can save RTF files, and why would you want to? They are massive in comparison to other formats.

Oh…I think that I am joining a different text editor war!

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