On Text Editors

01 June 2009

texteditors.pngA web developer’s workflow hinges on their text editor. For me, TextMate is the perfect text editor. I use it both for web development and casual text manipulation. I like that it’s both powerful – with shortcuts, bundles and expandability – and light weight – in that it launches quickly and performs actions fast.

I’ve tried, and have licensed copies for, both Coda and Espresso, and I really like both, but not enough to switch from TextMate. I’ve been thinking about why, and I think it’s because I’ve never been educated on how to actually use them. I’ve read all the marketing copy, watched the developer screencasts, and even tried both in real-world situations. I must be doing something wrong, though, because I still don’t see the appeal over TextMate.

For instance, in TextMate, to “Insert Open/Close Tag” and add a paragraph, I type: ?+<, then tab, then write my paragraph, then tab again (to place the I-beam back outside the tag). Besides the actual paragraph, it takes three keystrokes. In Espresso there’s a similar “Insert Tag” icon in the menu bar, but no equivalent keystroke command, and even that doesn’t allow you to tab out of the tag. I haven’t found command like this in Coda.

So am I missing something?

Update: Indeed, I was missing something. Thanks to Ian Beck, I’ve discovered TEA, and the powerful potential of “sugars” for Espresso. I’ve posted a video demonstration evaluating how Espresso and TEA are used. Very nice.