October 7, 2019
You can’t call yourself a medium WordPress user if you don’t have a text editor installed on your computer. This is no data-backed statement but just an empirical conclusion. A medium to expert WordPress user will do some code tweaks periodically. While Notepad and TextEdit—the default text editors for Windows and Mac—are good for basic needs, they are inefficient for more complex snippets of code. It’s ineffective to use these editors when there are so many more powerful and free alternatives.
Whether you agree with my statement or not, you need a text editor even though you aren’t a coder. The following showcase of free text editors for WordPress development is all you need to make a decision in this respect. Read the description of each text editor carefully, consider your needs and skills, and chose the most suitable tool for you.
Codeshare is an atypical code editor that fully deserves your attention. It’s browser-based, and you don’t have to sign up to use it, but you do need an account if you want to save your code.
Certainly, Codeshare isn’t the most powerful text editor, but it’s one of the best at sharing code. Confidently use Codeshare if you want to share the code with friends or colleagues, teach other people how to code, or interview and test a programmer.
Nopepad++ works only on Windows, but it’s one of the best-known text editors. It’s designed to be light, free, efficient, and simple to use. The developers clearly mention on the Notepad++ homepage that it’s free (as free as “free speech” or “free beer”), and it uses less power to make the environment greener. Use Notepad++ if you care about nature!
Despite its lightweight format, Notepad++ is packed with many useful features, such as code folding, search-and-replace functionality, a tabbed interface, and syntax highlighting. The poor interface is probably the biggest drawback of this editor, but you can get over this aspect if you take into account its advantages.
GitHub released Atom, a free cross-platform text editor aimed at helping coders. Atom comes with GitHub packages installed by default, and it allows you to work with Git and GitHub directly from the editor. Atom helps you autocomplete your code and lets you use multiple panes.
The strengths of Atom are the customization options and the community of users. You have tons of options to create the best coding environment for your needs and install free packages for extended functionality. For instance, Teletype shares your workspace with coworkers (useful for remote teams), and Zentabs limits the number of tabs opened. At the moment, 8,327 packages are available for free to spice up Atom editor.
Brackets is an open source project directed by Adobe. Give it a try if you work with Photoshop, Illustrator or other Adobe products.
Brackets is the best solution if you offer PSD to HTML services. The Extract tool allows you to extract data such as colors, gradients, and fonts from PSD files. It considerably simplifies the work of both designers and developers.
Microsoft released Visual Studio Code in 2015, and it has gained traction since then. It’s compatible with the majority of programming languages; all you have to do is to install the needed extension and start coding. IntelliSense is a particularly interesting feature—it accurately autocompletes code and highlights syntax.
6. Sublime Text
Sublime Text isn’t free, but you can download and evaluate it for as long as you want. The creators of Sublime Text are sure that its amazing features will convince coders to pay for it. Indeed, Sublime Text comes with some outstanding features, including the following:
- Goto Anything: open a document when typing a part of its name; type @ for symbols, # for searching within a file, and : to go to a line number
- Multiple Selections: perform an action on a bunch of selected documents once
- Split Editing: view a chosen number of files on the desktop.
The archaic official site of Vim text editor is a good hint at what’s behind this tool. Vim was launched in 1991, but it’s still updated today. While its features are similar to the most modern text editors, the interface reminds me of ʼ95. Consequently, Vim requires a learning curve, but its documentation is complete and well-written. I believe advanced coders will find Vim pleasantly challenging, but less-experienced people might not be so enthusiastic.
Vim is free and open source, it works on any major operating system, and a helpful community is ready to help you when facing various issues. On top of that, it supports any coding language, has tons of useful shortcuts, and is lightning fast. Don’t underestimate Vim’s potential!
8. Coffee Cup
This text editor was specially built for writing HTML, CSS, and PHP code. Use it confidently if you want to develop simple themes and plugins. Coffee Cup comes in two versions: free and premium. The free version comes with all the premium features for a limited time, but you can still use it for basic needs even after the trial period ends.
The interface is user-friendly, the split preview lets users view code outputs, and the Components Library stores reusable elements. These are only a few features of Coffee Cup; download and test drive it to get an idea of all its options.
9. Komodo Edit
Komodo Edit is a free text editor that fits the profile of a WordPress developer. It’s modern and simple to use yet powerful. Focus Mode is a great option that hides all the files to better focus on the editor. Reopening the recently closed tabs is another cool option available in Komodo Edit.
Coders who want more features should give Komodo IDE a try. Check out this resource to see the features of both solutions.
TextMate won the Apple Design Award for development tools back in 2006. It comes with impressive default features such as syntax highlighting, word completion, efficient file search, version control, and foldable code blocks. All of these features help coders to work faster and better. Unfortunately, it works on Macs only.
These text editors were created by developers for developers, and advanced coders simply cannot do their work without using one of them. WordPress has become complex, and tweaking your site in the good old Notepad or TextEdit is ineffective. Use any of the above text editors, and you will save time and your nerves.
Rikard is a full stack WordPress developer with a passion for maintenance and page speed optimisation. Rikard is currently working as a project manager at SteadyWP.