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Harutyun Mardirossian
Harutyun Mardirossian

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TextEditor war continues

When I had just started getting into software engineering, there were 2 main competitors in the nomination of "The editor of choice":

Sublime Text 2: the powerhouse of configs, low-level APIs support and advanced plugins
Atom: Electron based, ready-to-go, all-in-one and more casual-user friendly editor.
Sublime vs Atom vs VSCode

NOTE: I exclude vim from the list, because it is for more experienced developers, and most beginners ignore it because of the high learning curve.

Then, the era of Visual Studio Code started. Visual Studio Code has revolutionised code editing by combining functionality, extensibility, and cross-platform compatibility. Its impact continues to shape the way developers write and manage code worldwide. In the Stack Overflow 2023 Developer Survey, VS Code was ranked as the most popular developer environment tool among respondents. The VS Code extension marketplace offers a plethora of add-ons. Developers can install extensions tailored to specific languages, frameworks, or tools, enhancing their workflow. It bridges the gap between different platforms, promoting consistency and collaboration. Users can personalise their experience by choosing from a variety of themes and customising keyboard shortcuts. VSCode has dominated the market since 2019.

In 2021 Zed was announced: a fresh approach to code editing, combining performance, ease of use, and community involvement. Its creators aim to provide developers with a tool that truly enhances their coding experience.

**Zed is a high-performance, open-source code editor developed by the creators of Atom. It combines the best of both worlds: the power of an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and the responsiveness of a lightweight editor.

Zed is engineered for speed. It efficiently utilizes CPU cores and your GPU to provide instant startup, lightning-fast file loading, and immediate response to your keystrokes. Other tools might feel sluggish in comparison. For example, Zed responds in just 58 milliseconds, while Sublime Text 4 takes 75 milliseconds, and VS Code takes 97 milliseconds for the same task. Zed’s speed is attributed to its use of Rust, which ensures a smooth coding experience even with large files. Leveraging the power of your GPU through a specifically-made framework called GPUI, Zed achieves great speed and reliability. Another power tool in Zed pocket is Real-time Collaboration: which allows developers to work on code collaboratively in real time, regardless of their physical locations. This feature fosters efficient teamwork and enhances productivity.
Zed performance
But why's there a need for a new editor in 2024 if we already have a well-accepted and widely integrated VSCode? The problem is Electron. Despite its popularity for cross-platform desktop application development, it comes with its fair share of drawbacks, particularly in terms of performance and security. Electron apps can strain system resources, impacting device performance. Initial loading times may be prolonged due to unnecessary components. Memory leaks can occur, leading to performance degradation. Loading remote content can expose users to security vulnerabilities. Almost all Electron based applications suffer from similar problems.
So, what picture do we have now? The popularity of Rust has a significant impact on how developers create cross-platform applications. Rust gains dominance in webassembly and provides graphics libraries based on the WebGPU APIs. Zed is one such example, leveraging Rust's performance in web UI development. Zed is under active development and is far from a v1 release, but it has gained high popularity recently. This gives hope that the community will receive yet another power-house code editor in the future.

To learn more about Zed editor, you can visit their official page, GitHub repo or Twitter:

Top comments (9)

katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski

Zed is not a real contender while it only supports Mac. I appreciate their efforts, but not having open extensions system and being vendor-locked into one OS is a serious drawback compared to other editors. What I'm curious about is their advertised collaboration features, but I haven't had the chance to test them out yet.

crusty0gphr profile image
Harutyun Mardirossian

The Mac version is a preview. Their roadmap includes support for Linux and web versions in the future. The editor will have extensibility and will support community-made plugins and themes in the near future. Also, there is support for AI code companions.

devoskar profile image
Oskar Pietrucha • Edited

There are many developers using WSL e.g. ;)

kurealnum profile image

I know you said that you're excluding Neovim from this list, but I feel the need to mention that Neovim solves the majority of your problems, and it's supported on Mac, Linux, and Windows (as far as I know).

There is a steep learning curve for beginners, but LazyVim solves that problem (although in my opinion, LazyVim comes too close to being a clone of VSCode. That's besides the point though).

Concerning speed, I can't find any specific information about how fast Neovim is, but with my configuration with ~30 plugins loaded, Neovim opens in ~100-150 ms. In short, it's pretty dang fast, and if it's speed you're after, Neovim is for you.

And finally, if real-time collaboration is incredibly essential to your team dynamic, then you can either use VSCode when you need to collaborate... or you can just set up and configure a plugin like this.

mike_andreuzza profile image
Michael Andreuzza

Honestly, I was looking forward to use it and move from VS Code, because of the simplicity and because now there is support for Astro...but...

Honestly, still to young to move there, I could have a proper workflow still because, the search wasn't good, most files did not appear...

Wont't make the move until the editor is stable..

crusty0gphr profile image
Harutyun Mardirossian

I agree, it is not a final product. I wanted to test the AI integration with the chatGPT. It was too clucky, too unfinished…

gosselin profile image
Vincent Gosselin

VSCode is definitely our preferred one at Taipy :)

alliance43 profile image

It's interesting to see the ongoing debate between Sublime Text 2 and Atom for the title of "The editor of choice." Each has its strengths and appeals to different preferences and WhatsApp workflows. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what best suits your needs as a developer.

includenull profile image

I've used PHPStorm for a decade now, Sublime for quick edits, and VS Code for some C++ and Go

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