Sublime Text 2

Posted on: June 27th, 2012 by alemieux

I’ve used a number of HTML editors in the past. When I was forced to use a PC (gag), I was told that I had to use Notepad to code my pages. I quickly convinced them to get me a copy of Homesite, which was a Macromedia product scooped up by Adobe and never supported again after version 5.5. It was an awesome editor that was extensible and had a great Find/Replace feature. Of course, homesite and most of its features wound up integrated into Dreamweaver, with code completion, code hinting and Find/Replace all built in.

BBEdit (Bare Bones Software), was my mainstay for a while. The nice thing about BBEdit is it’s a lightweight text editor that doesn’t get in the way of your workflow. Like Dreamweaver, it has a Preview in Browser feature and lots of tools to help you build your code.

Lately, I’ve been hooked on another HTML editor called Sublime Text.

Sublime Text 2

Sublime Text

This lightweight text editor has some great features built in. The beta period just ended for Sublime Text 2, but you can still download it and give it a try. It has remarkable support for a variety of syntaxes including HTML, PHP, ActionScript, JavaScript, and many more.

Writing HTML in Sublime Text is great. Code hints are offered and tags are finished off for you. When writing JavaScript, functions are bracketed for you and Sublime Text seems to remember your variable names. There’s a Code Snippets feature that allows you to select from a set of predefined snippets or you can create your own. I created my own HTML5 snippet. To start a file off with a Snippet, go to Tools > Snippets and choose the snippet you want to start working with.

When working with longer files, like CSS files, there’s a minimap on the right side of the work screen that allows you to quickly navigate through the file by clicking on different areas of the minimap (similar to Photoshops navigator panel). You can also work in multiple layouts. Choose a Layout from the View menu and you can have 2, 3, or 4 files open at once and work on them at the same time. If your like me and are quickly distracted by what’s going on in your web browser or email program, you can enter Distraction Free mode or Full Screen mode so that Sublime Text takes up the whole screen.

You can configure Sublime Text any way you want. The Preferences allow for different Color Schemes and font sizes. I’m leaning towards the Zenburnesque color scheme, which is easy on the eyes. Oddly, Dreamweaver doesn’t have these types of options. I was surprised.

Summary

I’ve been using Sublime Text for a few weeks now and I have to say I am very impressed. At first, it took a while to get comfortable with the way the program worked, but it wasn’t hard to adapt. I wish that it did have a preview in browser feature. I know it’s easy enough to switch back and forth from the editor to the browser, but it’s a nice feature. I also think it’s a little short on help. I wish there was a built in help feature with search capability. Right now, search is relegated to their website.

At $59, the price for this editor isn’t too steep and given what it offers, I’d say that’s the right price. So, if you’re tired of Notepad or even Notepad++, give this editor a try. I think it’s fantastic.

Al Lemieux is a web designer/developer in the Boston area. If he’s not coding, he’s playing volleyball or skiing.

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