Text Editors

Today, I decide to see if Sublime Text 2 could be my next great text editor. The “vintage (read: partial VIM)” support had matured just enough to make editing text bearable so I’m giving it a shot for a week. Why invest time in beta testing an essential part of my toolchain? I’m glad you asked (ok, let’s just pretend you did).

Back in college, I dropped by a professor’s office for a quick meeting. He was busy at his computer and asked me to wait a second while he updated the course web page. He was editing at a pace, at the time, I had never seen done before. He was navigating, updating, auto-completing, literally shredding his way around a text file at lighting pace. His hands never once moved from their natural typing position except to type one last command… :wq

I was shell shocked. I never gave a second thought to the text editor I was using. If I recall, I was editing code in notepad at home or kwrite (gulp) in the lab. After watching my professor literally dominate code, all the while never touching his mouse, my perspective of text editors changed.

I started to view them as tools that needed to be learned. A little investment up front would provide big returns in productivity. A great editor allows me to literally produce the most amount of code in the shortest amount of time. The less time I spend doing things like navigating between files, find/replace, hunting for syntax errors, even typing, means (quoting Atwood) “less time between thinking that thought and expressing it in code.

My advice, for anybody that writes code, is to pick a text editor and learn the shit out of it. You’ll be better off in the long run.