Interface is a deciding factor when I pick my tools. Few years ago, I was designing mediocre websites using clunky tools from Macromedia and Adobe. As I switched to Mac in 2007, I had the chance to try Textmate as my main IDE. I was pleasanlty surprised with its simplicity and efficiency. I gradually moved away from WYSIWYG tools, and before long, I was enjoying every line of code I write in Textmate.
“Ignorance is bliss.” — Thomas Gray
Textmate remained my go-to text editor until I started looking at the competition. Auto-save, smart undo, autocomplete suggestions, and a native fullscreen mode have all become standard features in other editors. My hunt for an alternative has begun before I realized.
I started by taking Coda and Espresso for a spin. I was quite impressed with their endeavor to make Web design as seamless as possible. Notwithstanding, their main selling point is also their biggest snag: they suck as standalone text editors.
Subsequently, I turned to Google for ideas. The first results hinted at BBedit, Vim and Emacs. Albeit being the darlings of many, Vim and Emacs are simply too keyboard-centric for a mouse-trained brain like mine, not to mention their daunting learning curve and ugly non-native interfaces.
Eventually, my next stop was the two-decades-old BBedit, which coincided with the release of a major update for OS X Lion. Recommended by many pundits, I was almost confident that BBedit would fit the bill. Alas, that didn’t happen as I was not happy with the intrusive toolbar, the nebulous syntax highlighting, and the poor support for CSS preprocessors such as Less and Sass.
Although I was initially reluctant to try the less popular alternatives, I had little choice but to wade through an unhealthy number of Textmate 2 wannabes. Some are clearly coming out of the lot (Sublime Text), while many are too unstable for doing any serious work. What they all seem to have in common are the tiny communities and the narrow range of third party extensions.
End of the road? I am concurrently using Sublime Text 2, BBedit and Espresso 2. Am I satisfied with my current workflow? Hell no, and not even the recent Textmate 2 announcement was enough to placate my urgent craving for a decent text editor.