Friday, October 5, 2007

Gedit and Open Source Text Editors

I found this article on the GNOME default text editor, Gedit to be quite interesting. I was impressed by the functionality that it provided when I used it in both SUSE and Ubuntu while I was working on a Firefox Extension.

The editor is actually more powerful than I gave it credit for. Micah Carrick, the author of the article, uses the editor as an Integrated Development Environment! Apparently, there are plugins that come with Gedit by default that allow you to customize and extend the functionality of the editor. In just a few short steps, you can import a file tree, connect to an FTP site, or instantly insert XHTML, CSS, PHP, and other code simply by clicking on items in a tag list!

Is tab completion something that you find helpful or perhaps necessary? There is a plug in for that as well. Apparently, there is also an embedded terminal that supports ssh connections. Although I'm happy with Putty in Windows or the default terminal in Linux, this could be useful if you prefer to integrate your tools into one application.


Although Gedit is open source, I'm disappointed that it isn't available for Windows. One thing that really makes an application stand out is cross-platform compatibility. I'm not just a proponent for open source software; I'm a supporter of open source software that runs on multiple platforms because it promotes freedom of choice. This cross-compatibility is part of my Microsoft Quit Date strategy.

In terms of text editors, I prefer Vi. Not only does it come standard with every single Linux distribution out there, but also it's available for Windows! I use it both at work and at home, and it makes editing code much easier when I'm away from a Linux terminal. The most beautiful thing about Vi is that if I'm sitting in front of an open Linux terminal, I can edit any text file, anywhere I want. If I'm editing a file located on a computer in India, I can do so. While the terminal does respond a little slower, quickly editing a file would be difficult using an Integrated Development Environment.

The main problem with using an IDE is that you have to configure it. It doesn't work right out of the box. While tools like Vi have a very steep learning curve, I can move from one computer to another and pick up working right where I left off with nothing more than a Linux terminal and a VPN connection.

Of course, the main thing I like about Vi is that I can do so many things without ever having to take my hands away from the keyboard.

Although I like Gedit, the fact remains that it's not available in Windows. Since declaring my quit date, I haven't started using any new cross-platform tools. However, I realize that in terms of text-editors, I've already started this process by using Vi.

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