If you were to compare what constituted a developer’s toolbox some years ago against now, it would look as if it had gone on a strict diet. Authoring tools or WYSIWYG editors have become obsolete given the sophisticated and interactive nature of websites and applications. There isn’t really a graphical authoring tool today capable of processes such as creating decent HTML5 animations or allowing rapid server-side development. Applications like Adobe Edge or Maqetta are still in their infancy and have a long way to go to prove themselves.
A text editor, also referred to as code editor by some, is probably the only tool you’ll need for now. Whether you’re creating a complex site from scratch, editing a CSS file, or tweaking configuration files like .htaccess on your server — a text editor will do the trick just fine. Some robust editors will include more than just syntax highlighting. For example, it is now commonplace to find code editors with built-in SVN support, debugging and validation tools, FTP support and syntax completion. Desktop code editors are also slowly giving way to online editors that provide browser-based coding interfaces to let you code from anywhere and collaborate real-time with your team.
Our featured article this month takes a look at some desktop and online code editors that can simplify and speed up your web development process.
Desktop Code Editors
Komodo has within the past few years become the trusted code editor for many web developers because of its cross-platform support – it works on Windows, Mac and Linux. Being free, fast and open-source, it boosts several features that make it worth your consideration. It has customizable support for syntax coloring, folding and intelligent auto-completion and calltips. By configuring it to use your compiler, you can debug your code quickly and its integration with source code version systems like Subversion, Git or Mercurial makes it an ideal candidate for serious developers.
Notepad++ is probably the most popular Windows-based source code editor. It supports syntax highlighting and folding for over 40 programming languages and markups. It is lightweight and designed to consume little processing power and memory making it lightning fast. Some of its other features include full screen mode, a powerful find and replace function, auto completion and indentation and a great support for plugin and macros.
Scriptly is an extensive freeware code editor for Windows for writing HTML and programming with PHP. In addition to the comprehensive search and replace facility, the program features syntax highlighting for several script languages and file types. Code snippets and complex tables can be added quickly and easily.
RJ TextED is a full-featured text and source code editor with very powerful web development utilities. For instance, its functionality extends beyond text files and includes support for CSS/HTML editing with integrated CSS/HTML preview, spell checking, auto completion, HTML validation and templates. The program also has a dual pane file commander, as well as a (s)FTP client to upload your files.
Coda is much more than a traditional code editor. Other than the default features you’d expect in a code editor, Coda sports a streamlined interface organized around making web development easier thanks to its tabs, accessible sidebar with dock, and full-screen mode. You can use it to manage source with Git, SVN or upload and sync your project files to FTP, WebDAV and Amazon S3. The latest version of Coda also includes a built-in MySQL editor where you can edit your table’s structure and content with ease and even test queries.
Online Code Editors
Koding (previously known as Kodigen) is more than just an online editor, but rather a cloud development environment as claimed by its developers. It includes an image editor, an advanced code editor and SVN integration. Unfortunately open registration is closed at this time but you can sign up for a beta invitation.
Compilr is an online integrated development environment for programming languages like PHP, C, C++, Ruby, Java, C# and Visual Basic to name a few. It allows you to access your code from anywhere and will store your code in the cloud. It is ideal if you’re interested in trying a new language without having to to download a full-blown IDE and compiler.