Finding the Perfect Text Editor

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In order to get the best out of something you have to be willing to put in the effort. There are TONS of editors to choose from, and I’m not here to tell you which one is the best. Instead, I’m here to tell you to explore your options and pit one against another to find the editor that works best for you.

Start Simple

When you’re a beginner programmer, the easiest place to write your code is in a simple text editor like Sublime Text 2. As a beginner programmer you have a long journey ahead of you, and you just need to get off the ground at first. Sublime Text is a free editor that will get out of your way and let you get started coding without any fuss. Once you get more comfortable with coding, it’s time to start exploring your options.

Upgrade to an IDE

Once your comfortable with coding I recommend you start looking for a more powerful text editor. A great improvement is moving up to an IDE, or “Integrated Development Environment”. An IDE integrates a bunch of different features to make coding much easier and faster. An IDE includes a debugger, search features, integrates the database, and many more features to help you read, write and fix code quickly. Look up the best IDEs for your language and give it a try.

The reason I recommend an IDE over Emacs/Vim at first is because everything comes pre-packaged in an IDE. With Vim/Emacs you have to install it all yourself, and you may not be aware of all the great things available.

Learn a Little Every Day

Learning an IDE can be a daunting task. There is a ton of functionality that comes included, and it can take a long time to take advantage of all they have to offer. Instead of learning everything at once and getting frustrated, I recommend you learn just barely enough about the IDE to get started coding, and then go about your daily life as a programmer using the IDE.

Every time you start coding take a little time to learn something new about the IDE. Just learn a little bit every day and you’ll be able to code faster and faster with all the features you learn how to use. Even when you’re happy with how fast you’re able to work, keep learning and looking for ways to improve. You spend hours each day in your editor and tools, so it’s good to know how to use them well.

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Vim & Emacs

VIM & Emacs are like barebones editors with very powerful customizations. They are open source, meaning you can extend the editor however you want. If there’s a missing feature, you can create it yourself. They both have vibrant communities so you can get help when you need it. Vim & Emacs are keyboard friendly, meaning you hardly ever have to touch the mouse, which adds up to a lot of saved time.


Now that you’re comfortable with an IDE, and you’re aware of all the powerful things an IDE provides like code completion, an integrated debugger, integrated version control, integrated database layers, etc…, it’s time to pit your IDE against other editors. You can try other IDE’s or give Vim or Emacs a shot.

The idea is to experiment with other powerful editors and see if they can provide features or benefits that increase your efficiency. Because Emacs & Vim are the most extensible, and because they are open source, they provide the most opportunity in theory. To really make the most out of your editor, you have to constantly tweak, experiment and customize. Find what works best for you and always be open to new things.


A professional programmer will spend hours each day with their editor and terminal. By using keyboard shortcuts, debugging tools, code completion, and other shortcuts and features, you’ll be able to drastically speed up your workflow. Something that may take hours may be shortened to minutes with the right tools, and even shaving off a second here and there by using keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse adds up over time. That’s why it’s worth it to learn a little bit each day about your editor, and other tools, and always be looking for new ways to make your workflow more efficient.

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