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Sometimes it can be a real struggle as a geeky programmer. While certain normal, everyday applications are sufficient for most computer users – most die-hard programmers always require just a little bit extra. We like to incorporate our programming into just about everything we do on the computer. This is why Brixoft’s SourceEdit application is my favorite text editor. It’s essentially like Notepad programming on steroids for application developers.

In it’s basic form, SourceEdit is a glorified text editor. However, what makes SourceEdit so useful for application developers is it’s ability to instantly switch into a coding environment, complete with automatic formatting and color coding that can help you maintain correct structure and syntax when you write applications in C++, Java, Visual Basic and about ten other common programming languages.

A Review of SourceEdit

Used as a standard text editor, the look and feel of this application is a lot like WordPad, but the additional formatting features are created with programmers in mind. It is an all-in-one editor that accomodates (as best it can) the formatting and syntax from thirteen of the most popular desktop and internet programming languages. The coding environment is fairly clean and easy enough to learn quickly.

The buttons on the main menu bar include standard file and copy commands, and also includes Insert Time Stamp, Display File in Default Browser (for HTML programming), managing bookmarks, and options. The left pane provides an easy browse feature to open and save files. Switching between the various programming languages is as easy as right clicking in the text area, selecting “options,” and then choosing the “Langauge/Tabs” setting.


In this screen, you can choose the default language that you want to use when the application first opens. The default language determines how the application will format and color code your text as you write your software.  In my particular case, I usually use Visual Basic as my default, but I often switch to HTML when I’m doing web design work.

Programming Features of SourceEdit

Once you start using the application as an editor, and not just as a text editor, its value really shines through.  In my case, I use it to throw together simple Visual Basic scripts that perform basic file manipulation or database query tasks. This application automatically formats each line correctly indented, depending on the programming structure you use. For example, For loops, If-Then statements, and other routines are automatically formatted for you – so the software looks clean and professional.

As you can see, the example above shows how SourceEdit formats Visual Basic code, with subroutines in blue, numbers in red, and regular text in black. However, just setting the current language setting to HTML, you can also use the same software to edit HTML code with the appropriate syntax color coding.

As you can see here, HTML tags are all clearly identified in maroon, tag elements are highlighted in blue, comments are green, anything in quotations is dark grey, and actual page text is black. For web programmers who enjoy the control that text editing offers, this application allows you to keep that control, but you also receive the benefit of formatting and syntax, so that you’re less likely to forget a tag or otherwise completely mess up your web page. I’ve used SourceEdit for my HTML coding needs ever since the software was first released, and it’s saved me immeasurably in reduced troubleshooting time.

Another nice feature of the software is that if you don’t like the default color schemes as shown above, you can customize the software so that the various elements of your code are colors that you prefer.  To do this you right click in the text area, click options, and click “Color/Font.”

Here you can change keywords, operators, variable types and a whole list of other programming elements to display in whatever color and font style that you prefer. Another nice customization feature of this software is the ability to specify specific keywords for the software languages. You do this by going to Tools, and then “Language Editor.” For example, in the shot below, I’m adding a custom “starting,” and “ending,” keyword for ASP code. This feature is nice for when there are certain functions that exist in the language you use that SourceEdit doesn’t originally recognize. This is where you can add those new functions or commands.

Finally, another programming feature that I like about this software is that there’s an “autocomplete” tool. Pressing Cntrl-Space enables a drop-down box that provides you with the autocomplete options based on what you’ve already typed.

Other Cool Features

The programming functionality of this software alone sets it at the very top of my list for favorite text editors. However, there are even more features that I feel deserve honorary mention because of how useful they’ve been during the time I’ve used this software. The first one of those is the “file mapping” feature.

File mapping (in the options dialog) allows you to tell the software which syntax/color scheme to use depending what the extension is of the file that you’re opening. For example, if you open a .cpp file, the software will automatically enable C++ color codes, using .php will use PHP syntax, and so on. This saves you time because you don’t have to constantly reset the current language setting.

Another cool feature of this software is the HTML toolbar feature, which automatically inserts HTML tags for you, using the correct formatting.

In the shot above, I’m about to select one of the “form” options. When you click on any of the buttons in the HTML toolbar, it will insert the correct HTML code wherever you currently have the cursor placed. For people who can never remember how certain tags are used (like me), this feature is a life-saver.

And finally, saving the best for last, there’s the ability to view four documents at once using four frames.

The ability to split the text editor display into four screens is just icing on the cake for any programmer who, like me, loves to copy and paste code snippets that I’ve already written elsewhere. This feature lets you easily scroll through all of your code on the same screen instead of flipping through several windows hidden throughout your desktop.

Do you like to program using a text editor rather than through programming software, and if so, do you have favorite editors that you like to use when programming text-based languages? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

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