< Workflow with text editors

When I was reading about how Phil Baker improved his productivity in his own computer usage. It struck a chord with me and it made me wonder what I could improve from my own workflow. So to start with a mini-series of journal entries if you like, I’ll focus on text editors in this entry.

For the better part of this year, I had been more settled on using SublimeText 2 as my “go-to” text editor which in turn had replaced the very excellent Notepad++ as it had better functions that I could use while coding websites.

Around when Phil Baker had written his blog post about improving productivity, I considered on switching text editors because I got frustrated with the no license notification on every few saves of the file I would be working on in SublimeText.

I had not paid for a license yet, but told myself that I would purchase one when Sublime Text 3 came out of beta. I was starting to wonder if the development on SublimeText 3 had stalled, as the last beta build was released back in December 2013. It was time to look for an alternative one to SublimeText.

One of the early possibilities was when GitHub had started their own text editor which was very similar to SublimeText. It was limited to Mac OS X at first, but then the clever folks decided to make a Chocolatey package for Atom Editor which made this a lot more accessible for me to try out on Windows. At time of writing this entry, it is available on Linux or FreeBSD.

My initial thoughts when I first tried out Atom was that it was much more user friendlier than SublimeText because there was a GUI for configuring the text editor which SublimeText did not have.

A few caveats to consider if you’re thinking about using Atom Editor on Windows. Most of the keybindings don’t work because it’s designed to work on Mac OS X (in particular the Emmet plugin which I had raised an issue). However in later beta releases of Atom, the issues that I faced with keybindings in Windows had slowly disappeared one by one.

I find that Atom Editor is a really good text editor, that has a few kinks to be ironed out across the many operating systems that it supports. I hope that they introduce an auto-update feature to the Windows version soon, as Mac users already enjoy that privilege.

One of the big strengths of Atom Editor, is the plugins that is developed by the open source community, and there have been a few plugins that I have found to be really useful such as Emmet which allows me write HTML code quickly.

Lastly what I like the most about Atom Editor is the snippets functionality. I have made my own snippets such as entering in a quick HTML5 document with the correct spacing and so on by using the keystroke: ALT+SHIFT+S html5 enter. I do plan to add in a lot more in the future, and include Sass/CSS code that could be inputted quickly with a few keystrokes.

Where SublimeText has stalled, GitHub’s own Atom Editor has picked up the slack, and it is looking to be very promising with all the improvements being implemented and with the open source community behind it.

I can’t wait to see what new stuff GitHub comes up with next.