Log in

No account? Create an account

Sayonara TextPad, Hello Komodo Edit!

« previous entry | next entry »
Jan. 14th, 2010 | 11:43 am
mood: cheerfulcheerful

I've been using TextPad for years - it's a lightweight but amazingly featured editor for making changes to plain text files, such as HTML documents, programming code (Javascript, SQL, PHP, PL/SQL, etc).

Sometime in the last year, I grew to understand that TextPad has been surpassed in its feature set by a number of competitors.  TextPad notably lacked:
  • Syntax highlighting for a larger complement of languages
  • Ability to access files directly across WebDAV, FTP or SFTP
  • Code folding (collapsing code based on begin-end blocks)
  • 64-bit version (would be nice)
  • An active community of add-on artists
  • GPL, MPL, or BSD license would be a real plus
Perhaps it had reached its own version of perfection.  I begged to differ - the SFTP file access and code folding were now clearly marks of modern editors, and TextPad didn't deliver.

So I set out to find a replacement. 

There were the usual suspects, like the pricey UltraEdit, bloated Eclipse and Notepad++.  The latter had promise, but IMO the interface appeared to have been designed by committee.  Geany was nice, but the GTK2-for-Windows dependency put me off.  I didn't care for Crimson Editor, JEdit, or the razor-is-free-but-blades-cost-dough business model of CodeLobster.

I quickly grew to understand that, like Web browsers, several editors out there were all built on a common engine - the Scintilla editing engine, which appeared to be in use by several editors listed at Wikipedia.  Scintilla looks like it has reached a critical mass in terms of market acceptance.  So, who makes an FOSS-friendly editor for Windows with the best UI that leverages Scintilla?

In the end, I settled on Komodo Edit.

What clinched the deal was (a) the tour of the UI that really appeared to be thoughtfully considered by its designers, and (b) the design team which has its roots in support of Perl and other FOSS initiatives for the Windows platform.  What was clear to me was that the guys at ActiveState punched away in the same languages as I did, and clearly understood what would make a best of breed coding editor, then they just went ahead and built one!

I was blown away further when a tour of the product revealed the extent to which they leveraged existing FOSS code and concepts, well beyond adoption of Scintilla.  Their editor plug-in architecture was lifted from Mozilla and their browser plug-in (add-on?) model.  While not as fast as TextPad on startup, it's quite good, and certainly better than end-to-end IDEs like Eclipse.  The quality and variety of plug-ins are top-notch.  The key bindings and UI are way better IMO than Notepad++.  The real bonus is that, unlike TextPad, I'll be at home with Komodo on ANY platform - Windows, Mac or Linux!

Kudos to the folks at ActiveState for finally understanding what folks like me really wanted - something newer than TextPad but less massive than Eclipse - and delivering!

Download Komodo Edit by ActiveState

Link |