Sublime Text: The Text Editor You’ll Fall in Love With (Windows)

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text-editorIn my not-extraordinary-long lifetime, I’ve already worked with a reasonable number of text editors; ClarisWorks, Word 2003 through 2010, Open Office, Pages, Notepad and Notepad++ are just the ones off the top of my head.

Amongst all those experiences, few managed to really blow my socks off. This one did.

To be quite honest, this application doesn’t fit in under freeware, nor any of the open source categories – but we’ll get back on that later on in the article.

Sublime Text

For those of you who have come into contact with Notepad++, this application should look mighty familar. Rightly so, because Sublime Text is – in the first place – a text editor for code and other programming wizardry.

Nevertheless, if you want a calm, undistracting place to jot down your words, data and prose alike, you won’t find anything more Zen than this text editor. A spell checker is integrated, but for more extensive, picture embedding and style embracing papers I still advise you to use Open Office or Microsoft Office.

By the way, have I mentioned that it looks absolutely breathtaking?

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Most programmers will find anything they need to be bundled into the application. There’s standard syntax highlighting for nearly all popular languages, including C, C++, C#, CSS, D, Erlang, HTML, Groovy, Haskell, HTML, Java, JavaScript, LaTeX, Lisp, Lua, Markdown, Matlab, OCaml, Perl, PHP, Python, R, Ruby, SQL, TCL, Textile and XML. Plan to be writing in plain text? There are several color schemes available that are easy on the eye.

This is all pretty standard stuff, and (apart from the slick looks) can also be seen in other code editors like the previously mentioned Notepad++. It is the additional features that turns Sublime Text into a must have application.

For a complete functionality overview, check the Sublime Text feature page. Below are a few of the features I liked best.

MiniMap

If you’re often working with extremely large documents (and we all know both programmers and writers do), you should know how big a pain it can be to navigate. The numbering of lines can be a help, but you’re often still messing around with that excruciatingly tiny scrollbar.

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Located in a side panel, utterly left on the screen, Sublime Text offers a MiniMap. The concept is very simple – it’s like having Google Maps embedded in your text editor, your entire document from a birds eye view with the fluorescent square indicating the visible portion of text. To navigate, just grab the square and pull it to wherever you want. When working with even larger documents, your birds eye document view will scroll underneath the square as well, keeping it accessible towards infinity. Nifty.

Multiple Documents

Incredibly useful, both for programming and writing with references, are Sublime Text’s split screen modes. I purchased a second monitor to get this functionality, Sublime Text spares you the trouble.

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You can easily open multiple documents in the text editor, not only in different tabs, but side by side. There are a total of five alternative screen layouts, allowing you to stack up to four documents next, or below, each other.

Freeware, Trialware – Whatware?

19-10-2009 17-37-09I mentioned it already at the top of this article – this application doesn’t fit in under freeware, or open source – so under what license does it operate? Technically, Sublime Text is trialware. The free version is to get a feel and get you warmed up for the big purchase of 59 USD.

However, there doesn’t seem to be a time restriction on the trial. In other words, you can use the trial as long as you like, without any inconvenience or even stripped functionality. You could consider it as a very peculiar kind of freeware.

That aside, I must admit that the developers of Sublime Text did one hell of a job. If you can spare the money, and thereby support the people that made this possible, I urge you to do so. Licenses can be used on as many machines as you want, and you’ll automatically receive licenses to all future upgrades.

What text editor do you currently use? Don’t be shy, tell us in the comments below!

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Comments (18)
  • Cthulhu

    On first impression, I like the editor. Nice color scheme (used to black-on-white), the minimap is a neat (unique) feature which I’d like to see in other editors as well.

    However, as with a lot of editors, it’s got problems with big files. I do like the fact that it shows a progress indicator when loading it, but it takes a minute or so for it to read a 100 MB file. When read, it uses 130 MB of memory, which, I expect, will increase exponentially when trying to load larger files.

    Of course, that’s not limited to Sublime alone – Notepad++ has it too – except that Notepad++ loads the same file within 3 seconds on the same system.

    Of course, nothing beats vim (or gVim) when it comes to reading and editing large files, so far. It’s just not as shiny.

    Still, $60 is rather steep for what, I think, is basically Notepad++ with a different default color scheme and a minimap.

  • Sarit

    It sounds incredible but the licensing issue leaves you wondering :)
    I’ve been using Notepad++ because it supports Hebrew (which is Right to Left and quite different from English) very well.

  • riverzend

    absolute amazing editor but only for advanced users. also the plugins are cluttered over dozen adresses. it would be better to have a central point and on option to download it from the editor.

  • Kahero

    “You could consider it as a very peculiar kind of freeware.” No. You can’t. You can consider it as a trialware and buy it after the trial.

    I can’t believe how a respected site as this encourage software piracy.

    • Simon Slangen

      If there is no time limit on the trial? Yes. You can.

      We are not encouraging piracy at all. At the end of the post we even encourage our readers to buy the software if they can. We only state the obvious – that the ‘trial’ can be used indefinitely. Get your facts straight.

    • Steve K

      Simon,

      I too am surprised that you insist on calling any sofware with a designated trial period and price a type of freeware.

      Personal computers and the web have not been around that long, but I suppose that you are too young to remember that designations like “shareware” and “freeware” and “free software” were originally (and almost always) based solely on how software developers described their programs, and what the developers asked of the software users.

      In the early-to-mid-90s, developers like Microsoft were the most likely to actually enforce trial periods.

      Indeed, most shareware developers did not even specify a specific trial period, or even specify an exact price. *But* shareware developers did ask for payment from people who continued to use the software — thus, the software was called “shareware” NOT “freeware”.

      Sadly, of course, such arrangements proved difficult to maintain in a cynical, individualistic, capitalist culture.

      Over time, more and more people downloaded the software, and more and more of the software users were uninformed about — or simply did not care about — the ethos of trust, and the communal values behind shareware.

      As a result, a growing percentage of shareware users just considered the programs to be free because the developers were not literally forcing the users to pay.

      So, alas, developers began specifying specific prices and specific trial periods, then developers began enforcing those prices and time periods in various ways. Today, it is very rare to find genuine, old-fashioned shareware anymore.

      And perhaps there’s no point in promoting genuine shareware when so many people will just ignore the words of developers and call it freeware.

      You might say such people are just behaving according to human nature. But that “human nature” excuse is only that — an excuse, an alibi, for engaging in self-serving behavior, and for refusing to consider that another world beyond capitalism is possible.

      Of course, another world is possible; it just takes some creativity and cooperation — and perhaps a willingness to abandon cynicism, and to embrace empathy and trust.

      Steve

    • Simon Slangen

      I’m indeed too young to remember that. What you described as the result of a “cynical, individualistic, capitalist culture” is – sadly – today’s market. You’ve got software that requires you to pay, and software that doesn’t require you to pay.
      If you read the last paragraph again, you’ll notice that I didn’t say it was freeware, neither did I encourage people to use it without paying – quite the contrary, actually.

      “… I must admit that the developers of Sublime Text did one hell of a job. If you can spare the money, and thereby support the people that made this possible, I urge you to do so. Licenses can be used on as many machines as you want, and you’ll automatically receive licenses to all future upgrades.”

  • rygetz

    For Development I use:

    Windows: e-texteditor.com – great lightweight text editor that supports text mate bundles and has some nice features. I’m also keeping an eye on InType which is in beta. Not sure what to think of it yet.

    Mac: Coda & TextMate – primarily Coda.

    Ubuntu: Bluefish or pico

    These may be more development focused.

    Also, on Sublime’s download page it clearly states:
    “Sublime Text may be downloaded and evaluated for free, however a license must be purchased for continued use. There is no enforced time limit for the evaluation.”

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.