From managing our to-do lists and writing code to jotting ideas and keeping a grocery list, nothing beats a solid plain text editor. On Wednesday we asked you to nominate your favourite text editor, and over five hundred passionate comments later, we’ve whittled your nominations down to the most popular. Hit the jump for a look at the editors that made the list, and then vote for your favourite to crown the ultimate text editor.
NOTE: We had a tie in the top five rankings, so we’ve actually got six entrants in today’s Hive Five. Without further ado, they are:
Notepad++ is the go-to text editor for many Windows users looking for something better than Notepad. It handles most of the advanced features of the rest, like syntax highlighting, code folding, and macros, but unlike most of the other GUI-based text editors featured, Notepad++ is completely free and open source. It may not be as sexy off-the-bat as other GUI editors, but it’s fully customizable, so you’re only limited by your time and imagination. As for its chops as a text editor, it’s huge following speaks for itself.
Emacs (All Platforms)
Primarily a text editor for serious programmers, Emacs (Editor MACroS) is popular for its built-in macros and powerful keyboard commands that make editing text documents—particularly code—a pleasure. The catch: You’re not likely to fully appreciate Emacs until you spend some time getting to know it. The program has been ported to virtually every platform and has multiple incarnations, the most popular of which are probably GNU Emacs and XEmacs, both of which are free, cross platform, and open source.
TextMate (Mac OS X)
Powerful and attractive, TextMate ($63) came on the scene just a few years back and quickly gained a rabid following for its attractive interface, powerful macros, and downloadable and editable bundles. Windows users who’d love a little TextMate on their PC should check out E Text Editor, a text editor that directly apes TextMate and supports TextMate macro bundles.
Vim (All Platforms)
Much like Emacs, Vim (the child of the age-old Vi) is wildly popular for its keyboard macros and powerful set of tools for the serious programmer. Also like Emacs, Vim is available in several flavors. Apart from the original, there’s gVim or gVim Portable for Windows and MacVim for the Mac. If you think you might be interested in what Vim has to offer but you’re not ready to dive headfirst into an editor with such an advanced and sometimes obtuse feature-set, check out Cream.
The Windows-only TextPad (shareware, $32.50) is much like the rest. It has advanced features for programmers like syntax highlighting, code blocking, and macros, along with a clip library feature for storing persistent snippets of text. TextPad lovers also boast its searching prowess and ease-of-use.
Now that you’ve seen the best, it’s time to vote for your favorite:
For the most part, the text editors above share many similar features. Keyboard and macro junkies often pit Emacs and Vim against each other, and most if not all of the rest put presentation and ease of use first, while still providing powerful tools for the plain text and coding pro. The real measure of a text editor is how it meets your needs, and if our original comment thread is any indication, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. If you’d like to point out the finer features that make your text editor of choice the best—whether it made the list or not—let’s hear all about it in the comments.