As a software developer, a text editor is one your most important
desktop tools. My problem, like that of many developers, goes further
since I work on Windows, UNIX, and Linux systems. To help ease the
transition, I'm always looking for tools that at least work similarly
on each platform.
Many developers adopt the traditional UNIX editors: vi or Emacs. Both
are available in Windows versions and both have highly partisan
adherents. The Control-key shortcuts, which conflict with those of
standard business applications (and especially Microsoft Word), pushed
me away from Emacs. The conflicts make it hard to go back and forth
between text editing and writing project documents in a word processor.
Even so, both are good editors. See
http://www.thomer.com/thomer/vi/vi.html and http://www.emacs.org/ or
http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs.html for more on vi and Emacs,
respectively. A variant of Emacs called XEmacs can also be found at
For years, my favorite UNIX and Linux editor has been NEdit, a great
programming tool written to the Motif libraries. NEdit supports the
standard Ctrl-x, Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v shortcuts for cut, copy, and paste, and
also provides a host of programming features. You can download NEdit
from http://www.nedit.org/. For Windows, I use TextPad, an editor
somewhat close to the NEdit interface, available from
Lately, though, I've been looking for a new editor. I still love NEdit,
but I've been working on a new Linux system running SuSE Linux 6.4.
I've been having all sorts of problems with double-clicking in NEdit. I
often have to click about ten to twenty times to actually select a
word. As you can guess, this really slows you down. I'm not sure
whether the problem lies in the version of XFree86 (which provides the
graphics on Linux), the KDE desktop and window manager, or LessTif (the
free Motif-like libraries available on Linux) on this system.
So I've been looking at other editors, especially those that can run on
multiple platforms. Both the GNOME and the KDE desktops include a
number of text editors available from the desktop menus. All are worth
checking out. In addition, two editors I've tried recently include
august and j.
August (http://www.lls.se/~johanb/august/) is written in the Tcl/Tk
scripting language, so it runs on Windows, Linux, UNIX, and many other
operating systems. August provides a general-purpose text editor, along
with a number of HTML-editing features. It really isn't a programming
editor, but it does handle the double-click properly on my SuSE Linux
(leading me to believe the NEdit problem lies in the LessTif libraries
NEdit uses). Because it's written in Tcl/Tk, I found it very easy to
extend august, making the file dialog, for example, look for files
ending in .java first.
J provides another handy editor that also runs on Windows, available
from http://armedbear.org/. J, as you'd probably guess, is written in
Java, and it provides an interface very much like the Windows editor
TextPad, including a side window listing all the files you currently
have open. J seems to run well on Linux, with a more than acceptable
performance. This can be an issue with Java programs, because the Linux
performance of Swing, the Java graphical toolkit, has often been
bemoaned. I've been running j from the IBM 1.1.8 Java runtime and the
Sun Swing library with no problems.
There's no one true editor that works well for everyone. There are
plenty of editors available on Linux, though, so you should be able to
find one that meets your needs.