Dave's Not Here

Editor Wars: The Unending Delima

by on Jan.27, 2015, under Dave's Rants

Vim vs Emacs

Just kidding! But I will share the best response I’ve ever heard to the vi vs emacs debates: “Vi is an amazingly powerful text editor. Emacs is a powerful programming environment, that happens to edit text files”

But I digress. I am adept at both vi and emacs. But, I prefer the auto-indenting, ease of window creation and movement, and flow of emacs. But — there are huge issues with emacs: 1. I have to carry around a .emacs everywhere. 2. I’m sick (and tired) of hitting CTRL-S to search, and screwing up ALL windows applications. 3. I’m enough of a dinosaur already.

Dinosaur Avoidance – Picking a new editor

Are there any new good editors out there? I mean, I was in love with Brief / Slickedit for the longest time . . . but, again: dinosaur. A guy at my office uses Sublime Text, and mocked my emacs. While I won on geek cred — was there anything to the Sublime thing?

So, before I started looking for an editor, I needed my requirements. And, I have many.

Requirements for Dave’s Editor

In no particular order:

  • OS Independent – I drive Windows because I have to. But, I’m constantly opening sessions into linux boxes. And, I do have a Mac at home too.
  • Open Plugin System – toys are good to have.
  • Good dark color theme.
  • Notes / Todo package – The biggest reason I keep coming back to emacs is org-mode. I need a way to take quick notes, and keep track of todos. It needs to be text based, but have helper keystrokes to rotate through tasks / etc.

And, some nice to haves: * Free – Preferably (or at least cheap) * Keybindings that work with “normal” stuff. (i.e. Ctrl-F to search, Ctrl-x/v/c to cut, paste, and copy) * Console mode for when ssh’ed into a box * Key bindings for everything, so I don’t have to grab the mouse.

The Roundup

One of the things I like best about google are the two letters “vs”. So many people ask X vs Y, that when you type “foo vs” in google, you get all the known alternatives in the universe. So, after googling a bit, I came up with two contenders for editors:

  • Sublime Text 3 – http://sublimetext.com/3
  • Google’s Atom – http://atom.io/

Both were pluggable. Both were pretty. Here’s what I can remember about them.

Criteria Atom Sublime Text 3 Winner / Notes
Speed A bit slow to come up Pops up instantly when loaded
Plugin System Yes Yes Sublime has been around longer, so it has more packages. Plugins are also in python, which is a plus.
Good Color Themes Yes Yes
Free Yes No At first, I thought sublime was free. It nags, but is fully functional. They want $70
org-mode Replacement Unknown PlainTasks Honestly, at this point, I had already decided on Sublime Text 3, so stopped looking at atom.io


I’m now using Sublime Text 3. I love it. I even found a way to synchronize my settings across my different boxes using Dropbox. Package Syncing works great for me.

I’ll keep you posted if I find any other issues. . . . or if I move to atom.io as it gains maturity.

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