Sublime Text 2: The Best Cross Platform Editor?

Sublime Text 2: The Best Cross Platform Editor?

The humble text editor may seem like the most boring and standard application installed on your computer, but for many in the web industry, particularly developers, the editor needs to be more than just Notepad. There are so many editors out there it would be impossible to list them, but I’ve tested my fair share over the years, from Notepad, EditPlus, Vim and plenty in between.

But few are as inspiring and usable as my latest find, Sublime Text 2. Whether you’re writing code or a blog, this is a text editor you will definitely want to check out.

Cross platform

The first feature which drew me to Sublime Text 2 is that it is cross platform. Between work and leisure, I use Windows, Linux and Mac. The former two I have always had a preferred text editor, but when using my first Mac, I found the app store remarkably lacking in any quality IDEs. This is how I found Sublime and it has since become my preferred editor on all three operating systems. Usually cross platform means an ugly or non-native GUI toolkit, such as those imposed by numerous Java applications; however the developer of Sublime has gone to the effort of making a custom GUI toolkit that looks beautiful regardless of the platform it’s running on.

GoTo anything

Another handy little feature which is the GoTo anything, which is a quick search method that lets you open a file, or jump directly to a line or word with just a few keystrokes. Ctrl+P brings up a dialogue that makes basic functions a breeze and really speeds up your workflow when editing multiple files at the same time. There’s a great video tutorial which runs through some of the ‘Command Palette’ functions in just a few minutes here . The real power of Sublime Text is keeping your fingers on the keyboard without having to revert to the mouse too often, if ever. It almost feels like a version of Vim built for the 21st century.

Code highlighting

As is expected from most modern text editors, Sublime Text features code syntax highlighting for almost any language you could name, and even if it’s not currently available, you can always add your own syntax definitions by following the great documentation on their site .

Python plugins

The chances are, if you’re interested in using Sublime Text, you’re probably going to use it to cut code. So for all the developers out there who find a feature missing in Sublime, you’ll be glad to know there is a simple plugin framework written in Python. To start building your own plugin, simply go to the top menu and click Tools -> New Plugin. This will create a bare-bones Python file ready to start creating your own plugin; and make sure you make use of Sublime’s plugin documentation .

Many, many more features

The features I have mentioned are just some of the main ones, but the list could go on and on. Some of my other favourite features which I suggest you experiment with include split screen editing which lets you have multiple files split horizontally or vertically, making the best use of our modern wide-screen real estate. Sublime’s Project features let you organise your files in projects and open entire folders of files at a time. And for those who can’t keep their eyes off Facebook or the flashing Skype icon in their Start menu, simply enter ‘distraction free mode’ which turns Sublime into a full screen text editor to make sure you meet that programming deadline.


There is one downside to Sublime Text and that is price , at $70 this is clearly no Notepad++ or Vi. It should be said that at least the license does not follow the standard per-computer model, rather you can purchase a single license and run it on as many computers as you like. So if you’ve got a multi-platform environment and want an editor to run on your Mac, Windows and Linux boxes as I do, then at least some of the cost can be justified by the fact it’s cross platform and the only editor you’ll ever need. For those who think $70 is a deal breaker, still give it a go; you can download Sublime and ‘evaluate’ it for free, currently there is no time restriction on how long you can run the unlicensed version, but you will get the occasional prompt asking you to buy the full version. My advice? Give it a go and if you fall in love with it like I have, then it’s worth the money to support the excellent work of the Sydney based developer who has clearly carved out a niche in an unbelievably crowded market.