Text Editors for Mac: Part 1

When writing code for a website, you need to use an editor that works best for you so that you’re able to produce your work the most efficiently. This week I’ll be doing a quick comparison of three common editors designed for Mac computers, and hopefully this will help you in your decision-making process.

TextEdit TextWrangler TextMate*
Price Free Free $50
Open Source Yes No No
Syntax Highlighting No Yes Yes
Find and Replace Yes Yes Yes
Bracket Matching No Yes Yes
Auto Indention No Yes Yes
Auto Completion No No Yes
Spell Checking Yes Yes Yes

* The version of TextMate being evaluated is version 1.5.11, not 2.0 beta
** Table provided by findthebest-sw.com

TextEdit: If you own a Mac computer, chances are you have TextEdit already in your applications folder! For a text editor it’s functionality is very basic, so if you’re looking for advanced features this one may disappoint you. However, if you’re looking to quickly review a file or just plan on doing very simple coding, this free application should work just fine (and it has worked for me for two years).

TextWrangler: When my projects became too big to manage in TextEdit, TextWrangler was the application I switched to. It’s much easier to manage multiple files (they’re all navigable in one window as opposed to TextEdit where files are opened in their own separate windows), each line is marked by a number, and it auto-indents to help with organization. My favorite features about this program, however, is how it color-codes the syntax and how it will let you know if brackets don’t match. This has stopped me numerous times from making simple errors, saving me hours of frustrating debugging. And it’s free!

TextMate: I don’t have personal experience using this one, so I had to do a bit of research on it. Out of the three text editors talked about here it has the most features, such as the auto-complete and code-folding functions the other two lack. Whereas TextWrangler only warns you of mismatched brackets, TextMate will actually insert it for you so you don’t even have to worry about it. Another step up that it has over TextWrangler is the project manager feature; whereas TextWrangler simply lets you have multiple files open at once in one window, TextMate actually lets you view whole directories so you can see how your files are organized. However, TextMate does come with a price tag, so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the investment.

You can think of these applications as existing on a continuum: TextEdit is for simple projects, TextWrangler is for slightly more complex projects, and TextMate is for large-scale, complex projects. Which editor is right for you depends on the complexity of your project, and maybe you’ll find that you’ll use more than one!

Sources: [ FindTheBest ], [ TextMate: The Missing Editor ]


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