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Few days back we looked at how to customize Nautilus to get most out of the context menus and write custom menu entries as per your requirement. Today let’s pay some attention to the good old text editor – Gedit. Gedit is the default text editor for most of the Linux distributions using Gnome as the desktop environment. As it turns out and as we shall see shortly Gedit supports plugins and there are some very useful plugins for Gedit.
How to install additional Gedit plugins
While Gedit ships with a set of default plugins, you can surely add as many as you like. To install a plugin for Gedit, you must first download it to a local folder and then extract the contents to ‘~/.gnome2/gedit/plugins/’ directory. Also look for a package named “gedit-plugins” in your distribution’s package manager, this package contains some additional plugins for gedit. Once you have installed the plugin you want, you need to enable it via Edit>Preferences and then the Plugins Tab.
And finally here is a list of the top plugins you should definitely check out if you do a lot of text editing:
Lets you arrange blocks of text into columns easily and quickly. Just select the text to be arranged, go to Edit > Align, specify the column separator and presto you have instant columns. No more pressing tabs and arranging text manually!
Autotab detects the indent/space settings in a file and adjusts tabbing accordingly on the fly. Very useful if you have to edit code written by others using different editors.
Allows you to preview the webpage code you are editing in gedit in different browsers like Firefox, opera, IE, konqueror etc. A dream come true for any web developer.
File Browser (included in default install)
Lets you browse through directories and files in the side pane. Choose the file you want to edit, double click and away she opens in a new tab.
Character Map (included in gedit-plugins)
So you want to type in a different language? Keyboard problems? or do you wonder from where does µtorrent gets its µ? Look no further than the character map plugin. Enable it and you will be able to view the character map in the side pane. Just click on the character you want to insert and it gets inserted in the file.
As the name suggests, this plugin provides you a class browser for browsing source files. You can get an overview of various identifiers used in the code in the gedit side pane once you enable this plugin.
This plugin brings Auto Complete to gedit. While you are typing, this plugin will attempt to complete the current word, based on the words that have appeared previously in the current document. You can configure it to AutoComplete or offer suggestions when you hit Ctrl+Enter
External Tools (included in gedit-plugins)
External tools plugin allows you to add custom entries to the tools menu. The entries can run external commands on the current file. A totally indispensable tool considering what all can be achieved with text files and the Linux command line. Highly recommended if you do any kind of repetitive work on text files.
Sort and Spell Check (included in default install)
What good is a text editor without the ability to check your spellings? Yet most text editors lack this functionality.Enable the Spell plugin to add Spell Check functionality to gedit. The Sort plugin on the other hand allows you to sort elected text. You needn’t use sort/sed/awk to sort the file for you. It can be done right from within gedit
The LaTeX plugin helps you to write and compile LaTeX code. With features like LaTeX code completion, coupled with the power of other plugins, gedit with LaTeX plugin can greatly simplify your work. The LaTeX plugin can be used for BibTeX bibliographies as well.
Session Saver (included in gedit-plugins)
Session saver allows you to save you current workspace within gedit as it is, so that when you restore a session at a later time you can start right where you left your work.
Snippets (included in default install)
Snippets plugin allows you to insert frequently typed phrases and text by using hotkeys or a shortcode. You can configure your own snippets so that if you type something like MUO it automatically gets substituted with MakeUseOf.com. Snippets is one of my personal favorites and can save you a lot of typing.
Adds Firefox like useful features to gedit tabs, including the ability to undo a closed tab, close all other tabs, close all tabs and close tabs to the left of the current tab. Very useful if you are working with a lot of files simultaneously
If you are a programmer who uses text editor every now and then to edit some code, gedit has some awesome plugins to make your work easier. The color picker (gedit-plugins) lets you visually choose a color and insert its hex value into your code,code comment lets you comment/uncomment selected text with a single command, there are plugins to tidy up your HTML, indent code, match braces and then there is the python console and many many more. If you use gedit for general purposes you can explore bookmarks, splitview and directly mail the text file from within gedit with plugins. All these and many more are mentioned on. Some of the links are broken and some plugins don’t work as expected so you might be in for some hit and trial.
What really prompted me to write this article was that many people don’t realise that a program such as gedit (viewed as a simple text editor) can support so many additional functionality via plugins. A reason could be that people hardly care about setting preferences for text editors and the plugins option is buried deep inside preferences. I am curious to know how many of our readers knew about gedit plugins? The geeks would have known for sure, so we can expect some plugin suggestions in the comments too. Which ones are your favorites?