Which Code Editor Do Devs Prefer?
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Some programmer's think you have to write code the hard way - without much assistance by way of code completion, syntax highlighting. Others of us rely on all of the above and more. OpenSource.com recently opened a poll asking about code editing tools. The results are not what I would have predicted. 



Making the obvious pun on the date, Jason Baker introduced this poll, which was constructed along the same lines as one we reported on the best programming language for beginners the previous month with:

Welcome to the Ides of March, or as we'd like to call it, the IDEs of March. To celebrate, we're asking our readers to let us know which code editing tool they prefer, whether a full-fledged integrated development environment or a simple text editor. Fortunately, there are tons of open source options out there for you to choose from. Which one is your favorite?

This is the interim result after five days and the poll is still active:



These polls appear on Opensource.com which explains why only open source tools are included and probably explains why the most popular choice is the most rudimentary one - a general purpose text editor, which accounts for almost 30% of the votes. On the other hand putting together vim, emacs and gedit means that Atom, with 18% could in fact be more popular than any of them.

Atom, GitHub's cloud hosted editor, which made its debut in 2014 enjoys the alphabetical advantage that puts it top of the list but even making allowances for this it does seem to have attracted a strong following here, which is probably deserved given the rate of its development - it reached Atom 1.15 the week before the poll. 

One surprise is that Visual Code Editor, which is a relatively primitive tool is doing so well (14%) turning out to be much more popular that my own first choice NetBeans (8%), which has so much more to offer. I really don't understand its poor showing, nor that of Eclipse (12%) which for many is synonymous with IDE.

What isn't a surprise is that Other has attracted so many votes accounting for over 11% of the poll. Given that Python made such a strong showing in the languages for beginner's poll last month the inclusion of IDLE in the comments is only to be expected. It's not the only Python IDE mentioned and JetBrain's Pycharm, which has both a paid and a community edition, gets several mentions.

IntelliJ IDEA, Jetbrains' flagship IDE get even more mentions in the comments with one commenter asking why it's not in the list. The answer presumably is that the full version is a commercial product, although the "bare" version, Intellij, is open source and JetBrain's makes much of its product line free to use for open source projects.

Komodo, ActiveState's multiĀ­-language IDE for Python, PHP, JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS, Node.js, Golang, Ruby, Perl, is another commercial product nominated in the comments. It has a cut down version, Komodo EDIT, that is open source.

The biggest omission of open source IDE as far as I am concerned is Android Studio. This product, which is more or less unavoidable if you are developing for Android, is based on the open source Intellj and is itself open sourced under an Apache 2 library. It may be something of a mess, see Android Studio 2.3 - In Need Of Direction, but is the only sensible route to Android development.

Why some programmers profess the attitude that an IDE is not for them is a mystery to me. Programming is hard enough to get right and we need all the help we can get. I can understand moaning about the deficiencies of this IDE or that IDE but not that the very idea of an IDE is a mistake. Yes vim and emacs users I'm looking at you.

More Information

Happy IDEs of March: Which code editor do you prefer?


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 March 2017 )