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If you’re into programming then you’ll know how much easier it is to use a text editor that has syntax highlighting so that you can see if you left a bracket open, curly bracket open or mistyped something. In this article I will review 3 lightweight free text editors for programmers on Windows.

If you’re prepared to pay for a text editor with a free trial option, there is Dreamweaver and Aptana, Aptana has three software packages Aptana Studio, Aptana Cloud and Aptana Jaxer.

If you don’t want to pay for a text editor and would prefer a free option, read on…

Intype

Intype is a really good lightweight text editor for Windows. The interface of Intype is just like the one for TextMate for OS X so it works really well and keeps things simple, easy and tidy. Intype has been around since its first alpha release back in January 2007 and is now on alpha version 3. The progress of Intype has been really slow because they only have two developers. The first is Martin Cohen who is the project leader and the person behind interface for Intype. The second person is Juraj Durech who is responsible for the core C++ programming.

When Intype finally hits 1.0 I think that it’ll be without a doubt one of the best text editors around. Why? Well, Intype is only at version 0.3.1 at the moment and it already packs a good punch. It supports bundles and plugins as well as a bundle editor and a lot more features. All of Intype’s finished and pending features can be viewed here.

The languages that Intype supports syntax highlighting for are C, C++, CSS, HTML, HTML (Rails), Jasmine, Java, Javascript, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, SQL, SQL(Rails), Textile, XHTML, XML, XSL and YAML. The Bundles that Intype comes installed with are PropertyList, C, CSS, DOM, HTML, Jasmine, Java, Javascript, Perl, PHP, Python, Rails, reStructuredText, Ruby, SQL, Textile, XML and YAML.

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What is a bundle?

A bundle is like a shortcut for typing certain functions and commands in languages. An example of how to use a bundle in PHP is if I want to do an If statement, I would type ‘if’ and then hit enter and then it would fill in the other characters to save me time.

Notepad++


Notepad++ is a very popular open source text editor for Windows that a lot of programmers use because of the functionality that it has. Notepad++ was first released in November 2003 and as of writing this article is at version 5.0.

Just like Intype, Notepad++ supports syntax highlighting for a lot of languages.

The languages that it supports syntax highlighting for are C, C++, Java, C#, XML, HTML, PHP, CSS, makefile, ASCII art, doxygen, ini file, batch file, Javascript, ASP, VB/VBS, SQL, Objective-C, RC resource file, Pascal, Perl, Python, Lua, TeX, TCL, Assembler, Ruby, Lisp, Scheme, Properties, Diff, Smalltalk, Postscript, VHDL, Ada, Caml, AutoIt, KiXtart, Matlab, Verilog, Haskell, InnoSetup, CMake and YAML.

Notepad++ has a style editor so that you can change the syntax highlighting of a language so that it’s more comfortable for you if you’re used to a different type of syntax highlighting that Notepad++ uses by default.

Notepad++ allows for the use of plugins and comes with 8 installed. Light Explorer, Spell-Checker, NppExec, MIME Tools, FTP, NppExport, Compare and Document Monitor.

Notepad++ also allows for the use of macros to save you from typing the same functions over and over again. In the preferences you can change everything from the tab size to the blink rate and width of the caret. There is also a shortcut mapper so that you can configure shortcuts to fit how you like.

Notepad++ has a lot of features that I could be here all day writing about so if you want to check out the other features that Notepad++ then head over to their website.

ConTEXT

When I was a full time Windows user my text editor of choice was ConTEXT. I really like the look and feel of ConTEXT – it’s simple and it just works. As ConTEXT is so light it requires hardly any RAM, so if you’re running a few memory intensive applications and you also need to do a bit of programming then ConTEXT is a good choice.

The languages that ConTEXT supports for syntax highlighting are C, C++, CSS, ConTEXT Highlighter, ConTEXT Language Files, Fortran, Foxpro, HTML, Inno Setup Script, Java, JavaScript, Object Pascal, Perl, PHP, Python, SQL, Tcl/Tk, Visual Basic, x86 Assembler and XML. If you don’t like the syntax highlighting that ConTEXT uses then you can always edit it under Options->Environment Options->Colors. You can also download more highlighters from their website.

With ConTEXT you can integrate a compiler to compile source code that you have written to keep a good work flow. To keep things organized with ConTEXT you can also create and manage project files.

ConTEXT also allows the creation of macros to save you time from typing the same functions.

To view all the features that ConTEXT has view their website here.

What text editor do you use for programming? One of the ones above or a totally different one? Tell us all about your favourite program in the comments.

  1. tr
    October 14, 2008 at 10:44 am
  2. tr
    October 14, 2008 at 10:43 am

    vim!

    viemu.com/a-why-vi-vim.html

  3. Norm
    July 17, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Editplus for windows.. never got used to vim's user interface so I use emacs on linux. Editplus, when used right, makes your code really readable. What I'm saying is, it is not the best out there to write code with (no support for code writing other than syntax highlighting) but it sure is one of the best to open up a source and read through it.

  4. Thomas Schaaf
    July 12, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I love textpad which can be found at textpad.com/

  5. Trinity
    July 12, 2008 at 1:22 am

    i use editplus..its nice and easy to use

  6. Nicolas Nierenberg
    July 11, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Aptana is available as a free community open source edition that you never have to pay for. Also I believe that you can configure it "on a stick" so that you can carry it on a portable device.

  7. Frode
    July 11, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Always vim.org for me too.

  8. USBman
    July 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Another thing I like about Notepad++ is that it is available as a portable application, meaning you can take it anywhere and run it off of any media you want (USB flash drive, SD card, portable HDD, etc) without leaving behind any traces on the local machine. This is handy when you want all your tools with you wherever you go, or even if you simply just want to try it out (without actually installing anything).

    The portable version is available from here .

  9. housetier
    July 11, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I always use vim.org; it runs on all platforms I have to work on, it does what I want.

  10. Bill
    July 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    As a dev, I've used the latter two, and while good, they aren't great. The one I've stuck with for years now is PsPad. With a built in FTP client, it allows you to edit remote pages as if they're local. It's also got nearly every other feature you could ever want in a text editor. Give it a try, it's free. pspad.com

  11. xeno
    July 11, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    e-texteditor.com e Text Editor, it' like TextMate and supports TextMate bundles

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