For as long as I've had a job doing web programming work I've used Eclipse for development. For total features it's hard to beat. Since it's Java based it runs on all platforms, has ant and script integration and CF Eclipse for ColdFusion development. Depending on where you work a lot of this might be essential to development. When you're using ant to build to a development environment, for instance, it makes it pretty much impossible to change IDEs to anything else without changing the rest of your development setup. Luckily at home none of that is an issue. Spare time is a chance to experiment, but I'd never tried experimenting with other IDEs — until tonight that is. Recently, in an attempt to get familiar with Ruby on Rails, I'd been watching quite a few videos from Railscasts . In the videos Textmate is used, and to be honest it's pretty impressive. The question you have to ask yourself is "What features help me be most productive?”. I know for me those are mostly ones that involve key shortcuts rather than using the mouse - which editors like Textmate push hard. Eclipse has Snippets as well, but they don't tie into the system as seamlessly as something like Textmate. I also realized most of the tool bar buttons go unused aside from save. When developing at work in Java or Flex I tend to use quite a bit more, and it's pretty much essential if you're wanting to use the debugger - an essential feature in my opinion. But for something like ColdFusion or Ruby it does tend to be overkill for how I currently use it, although I haven't tried FusionDebug or the new Eclipse plugins with CF8. Unfortunately I'm still a PC guy so that ruled Textmate out. I knew this going in actually — some coworkers at FCE were very enthusiastic about Textmate but I'd ruled it out as Mac only. If you're a PC developer though, don't despair! There are a number of growing PC alternatives to Textmate with increasing bases. The first one I found was Intype an extremely lightweight (727k) program that is still in early alpha. After giving it a test run tonight it's definitely impressive what they've done so far, and I'll continue to watch the project — although there are still a number of essential features left out. Things I tend to use, such as a project pane, are missing at this point. Later on though this could be a contender. What I ended up settling on is a windows program simply called the E TextEditor . It even has the tag line "The power of Textmate on windows”. It was extremely simple to install the Railscast theme and fonts which are extremely easy on the eyes. It has bundles (similar to snippets in eclipse, but easier to use) for ColdFusion tags as well. If you want some examples of it in action, it's similar enough to the Textmate Screencasts that most things would probably work in E. As with anything else though you have to train yourself to use these new conventions when coding or else they'll just go to waste. One difference I've seen (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that while Textmate, E and Intype concentrate on completing code based on known codes, Eclipse is more about autocomplete for method or tag names. This doesn't seem like a big different at a glance, but by bundling the changes into a snippet you can do things like automatically tab through the parameters rather than expect the user to start typing them out. I can't say I've used many editors at this point, so if you have any other programs to add to the list of suggestions, let me know.
What is Your Favorite Text Editor?
Published November 9, 2007 on adamfortuna