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What Alternative Text Editors Does DEV Use? (Not VS Code πŸ±β€πŸ‘“)

jacobherrington profile image Jacob Herrington (he/him) ・1 min read

Hey DEV!

I'm a huge fan of VS Code, and I use it for pair programming and occasionally when I want to use one of the awesome extensions that the VS Code community has provided.

However, I'm also a fan of diverse marketplaces. I don't really like the idea that the vast majority of developers I interact with use the same text editor.

I'm the kind of person that uses Ubuntu, Firefox, and DuckDuckGo. Not just because they are great tools (I think I'm having a better time on Ubuntu than the last year I spent on MacOS, honestly), but because I don't like the idea of a single company controlling a market.

For that reason, I wanted to start a conversation about alternatives to VS Code.

I use Spacemacs, which is a set of Emacs configurations that essentially combine the Emacs and Vim text editors. I really like that I don't have to do much tweaking out of the box, but I still have a lot of the power found in both Vim and Emacs.

Spacemacs πŸ‘½

A screenshot of Spacemacs

What alternatives do you use? Or, if you don't what about VS Code keeps you from using something else?

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markdown guide

I prefer to see Vim as the one true editor and everything else as an "alternative".


What about "Ed is the default editor"


We do not talk of the Before Time.


Which is obviously a mistake as Emacs is the one true editor


I still use vim :) with my own set of plugins managed by vim-plug.

ctrlp and nerdtree are my top two essential plugins.

I think the best way to get started with vim is the hard way, to copy settings and plugins one at a time from example vimrcs and understand each line that is going on. It takes more work, but I actually love being in full control of my editor.

I must admit, though πŸ™ˆ every once in a while I open up VSCode, usually it is only if I'm working in a large unfamiliar project. When there are lots of directories and files and I don't know the project structure, VSCode makes it a little easier for me to search and grep around.


I think the best way to get started with vim is the hard way



That's true Jared, I will also give it a try, the hard way.


That's probably true, but I like to introduce people to Vim inside of VS Code with the VIM extension. It's a great way to let people get their feet wet without committing a lot of time.

I like that idea. It didn't work for me, though. I would fall back to what I knew and avoid using Vim motions. To me, it's like learning any language...immersion is key.


I'm also a Vim user and totally agree that you have to learn it the hard way. I've tried to take shortcuts, but I've found that all the time I've invested reading the help and actually learning the ins and outs of how Vim works has been well worth it.


I am spoilt and I know that it is pricey, but since I started I always worked in company that were using ( or allowed me to use) IntellijIDEA. Honestly over the years I tried Eclipse, Atom, Sublime Text, VS Code and - maybe was just me not getting the configuration and the plugins right - but i never felt so comfortable, and what's even more important - i was never so productive as when I am using Intellij.


Finally found a Jetbrains user 🀩.
I have a background of Android development, so when I tried VS Code I just couldn't get used to it.
Since then I have been using WebStorm for web development and it hasn't failed me once.

It is true that WebStorm is much more resource intensive than VS Code but my system can handle it so I am happy with it.


+1, another Intellij/Webstorm user here. I use Intellij mainly for Elixir development, and Webstorm for any JS related work.

They keyboard navigation is so good! I've tried to go back to vscode a few times and just couldn't make it stick. Once you get used to doing everything with the keyboard in Jetbrains apps it's hard to feel as comfortable in other editors.


I've actually found that VS Code is way more resource hungry than Webstorm. After loading up a large project I'm working on Webstorm consumes about 700MB of memory whilst the same project in VS Code consumes 1.3GB of memory.

Also, though it takes a while, when Webstorm has indexed the project it makes it very snappy to search / navigate around.

Huge fan of Webstorm to be honest. So many things just work nicely out of the box.

Agreed. Once WebStorm finishes indexing then it knocks every ball out of the park. No competitions πŸ’ͺ


I started using WebStorm about 5 years ago. I love it. I also tried many other IDEs, but no one of them was such as useful as WebStorm.


Long time PHPStorm user here. I completely understand you, man. It's a great tool, and just the plugins alone are worth the money I'm paying for the tool. That's actually the only software I invest my money into.


I used RubyMine for a bit, but I didn't love it. I've never really been one for full-fledged IDEs though.

Do you work on really large codebases? I've heard that's the best time to use a true IDE.


I love using RubyMine for any size project, even single scripts (using the scratch file functionality). RubyMine just does an amazing job linking together classes and allowing you to jump into documentation and source code of gems you're using. I've used RubyMine for projects ranging from single files to 10k lines of code.


My journey looked like a lot of web devs that have been around for like 5 years:

Dreamweaver -> Sublime Text -> Atom -> VS Code -> Vim

I'm stuck on Vim now and I doubt I'll go back.

I wrote a whole article about it if you're interested!


After reading your article a few weeks ago, I started learning vim :D


i use Vim and gVim with the same configuration

set number
set expandtab
set tabstop=4
set softtabstop=4
set shiftwidth=4
set autoindent
set textwidth=160
set guifont=hack\ 8
syntax on

set nocompatible
filetype off 

set rtp+=~/.vim/bundle/Vundle.vim
call vundle#begin()

Plugin 'VundleVim/Vundle.vim'
Plugin 'morhetz/gruvbox'

call vundle#end()
filetype plugin indent on

colorscheme gruvbox
let g:gruvbox_contrast_dark='medium'

Nice! So you pretty much just use Vundle to get gruvbox? This looks similar to my config (except I just use my terminal to set colors).

filetype plugin indent on
set ttimeout
set ttimeoutlen=100
set backspace=eol,start,indent
set ruler
set autoindent
set expandtab
set shiftwidth=2
set softtabstop=2
set tabstop=2
set path=.,**
set wildmenu
set autoread
nnoremap <silent> <space> :set relativenumber!<cr>

This is super minimal! Do you use a file browser like nerdtree?


nop, i just like this way, i try to install the filebrowser but i fail hahah, maybe a bad configuration :(

Might have something to do with Vundle, I don't think it's well maintained anymore. I suggest taking a look at vim-plug

Btw, that is reaaaallly minimal lol nice πŸ‘πŸ»


I switch back to Atom every so often. I hide all of the nonsense menus and statuses and I find it to be cleaner than VSCode.

Atom IDE


yes it is the only issue with atom is takes more time to lot the project and lot of ram other than this it can easily beat vscode


I don't think this is the case anymore with the new versions.

It still feels like it takes a bit longer to load projects and will freeze up every once and a while when you try to open a large file, but the cleaner interface and time I've already invested in configuring it exactly how I want is what has always kept me from transitioning to VS Code.

Maybe try the nightly build. I've been using that and it loads extremely quickly.

Cool, I'll definitely give that a try!


Emacs. I have co-workers younger than my .emacs.el file.


Simple and minimal; yet super powerful.


Do you use Notepad++ for more than just scripts? I've been away from Windows for some time, but I used to use it to write some small scripts and SQL. I felt it would struggle with a larger project, what has your experience been?


I do lots of stuff in Notepad++

  • Writing articles

  • Writing my daily tasks (todo list apps are time consuming, time gets wasted just playing with the UI)

  • Organizing ideas (like before making a feature in an app, I write all the correlated stuff to do)

  • Outlining whatever before start to write (like before sending an email, I list what should be included and what should be highlighted)

I love the idea that you can check whatever line (like a checklist) or open a new tab or switch between tabs with ctrl+tab or close it just like web browsers or auto-save any letter you write... it's just awesome!

I actually keep it open all the day, it has lightweight footprint on memory and cpu.

Glad to see there's another Notepad++ fan.


I had some experience with notepad++ for web development but when i code php when into js framework project notepad++ just true garbage piece of software .. moved to sublime and vscode

I love sublime as much as you love this notepad. I rely on notepads and spoken words captured at work. Tabular notes are my favourite


Notepad++ here as well, on Windows. Haven't found the need to switch


I've recently started messing with Doom Emacs. I began my Emacs journey as a Vim user with Spacemacs, then started fresh and rolled my own config from scratch, and now I want somewhere in between. It "just works" but is also closer to just regular ol' Emacs than what I got with the Spacemacs system. I'll probably stick with this for a while. Screenshot from the repo:

Doom emacs screenshot

(and VS Code ofc)


I took a look at Doom Emacs when I picked up Spacemacs and it looks promising. I'm always afraid of spending too much time configuring stuff, so I've just stuck with Spacemacs!


Pretty much. Vanilla Emacs was fun but man was it unproductive. I don't find Doom Emacs to require significantly more tweaking than Spacemacs, YMMV.



I tried a couple of times to switch to Emacs w/ Evil because I, too, think Emacs + Vim is probably the best editor. Think is I always had issues finding the alternatives the few plugins I use in Vim. And in the end, I ended going back to Vim :)


I was put off by how you needed a separate plugin for evil mode in dired


Vim is super nice for simplicity, but I am afraid of spending too much time in config files! That has always kept me away from using it exclusively.


I did lose my self at first. But the thing to do is start fresh and see what's missing in your workflow. 99% of the time, there is something out there. It will grow with time but you don't need much at all to be productive.

I might give Spacemacs a try one day. Who knows.


Vim with Powerline in most cases for me, together with the stock netrw file browsing script that comes standard as part of the runtime files, with the following reasonably simple vimrc on top of the stock config:

set ambiwidth=double
set autochdir
set autoindent
set autoread
set background=dark
set nocompatible
set copyindent
set display=lastline,uhex
set errorbells
set expandtab
set fileformats=unix,dos,mac
set foldenable
set foldmethod=syntax
set incsearch
set laststatus=2
set list
set listchars=trail:-,tab:>-,nbsp:_
set modeline
set mouse=a
set mousef
set number
set preserveindent
set scrolloff=2
set shiftround
set shiftwidth=4
set showcmd
set showmatch
set noshowmode
set showtabline=2
set smartindent
set smarttab
set splitbelow
set splitright
set wildmenu
set winheight=5

syntax on
filetype on

py3 from powerline.vim import setup as powerline_setup
py3 powerline_setup()
py3 del powerline_setup

Depending on what, exactly, it is that I need to do though, especially if it's large batch operations, I'll just use ex from the command line, or occasionally an interactive Python session (if I'm manipulating structured data in ways that ex just isn't good for).

Part of why this works for me though is that I specifically don't want my editor doing things for me. I have no interest in auto-completion (I find it wastes more of my time than it saves), or doing full IDE-style integration with my build system (because, you know, I've got a plain shell open in another terminal window that I can use to interact with the build system). I just want basic auto-indentation, basic syntax highlighting, and basic indentation-based code folding with usable static presentation features (line numbering, display of whitespace when it wouldn't be visible, etc).


I use Atom. Landed on atom after trying out most of the major editors when I was tired of ST3


I started with notepad (for about an hour), then notepad++, then sublime text 2/3. And I still use it today!

I don't see why everyone loves vscode. Sublime helps me work very fast and efficiently.

Why do y'all like vscode?


My number one reason to reach for vscode over sublime is breakpoint debugging of pretty much any language you can think of.


There is a strong argument to be made for everyone sharing a platform and benefitting from universal plugins and extensions. VS Code has a ton of great extensions that are extremely easy to install.

I used VS Code with Vim for the better part of a year. There are also some great tools around git and stuff that you can download.

I came from Sublime Text 2, I felt like VS Code was comparable in most ways and better in a lot of ways, so I stuck with that until I started playing around with Spacemacs.

It'd be hard for me to pick many editors over VS Code if I was being purely objective, especially when I'm recommending an editor to others.


This. For me, VS Code hits that sweet spot. For what it is, I find it hard to beat.


I use Sublime Text. I fell in love when I was to insert a few lines of analytics code into over 2000 files! Its Ctrl + Shift + F feature for find and replace in files even in multiple directories is so cool. Plus the Ctrl + D for multi-line editing, and of course its smart code completion because am too lazy to type the close


Yeah ST had a lot of cool features that now feel necessary!


I use, well,

  • Atom for HTML/CSS/JS
  • Dev-C++ for C/C++
  • Geany (because there's no Dev-C++ in Linux)
  • GNU Nano for modifying Linux configs
  • KWrite for opening scripts (not projects as in Atom)

I do consider using GNOME Builder for working on C (other than GTK) project in Linux, but I still prefer Geany as of now.


I use IntelliJ Idea.
I like it very much.
I have used others in the past, finally settled on it.
VSCode didn't even existed when i made the switch to IntelliJ.
Never had any reason to love away from it.


Extensibility, constantly supported and improved upon by Microsoft.

Ironically I love most people are using the same tools, rather we all be on VSCode rather than everyone on a project using whatever. Preferably with some key extensions being shared.


There is an argument for creating a platform that we can all do well on -- kind of like the argument for standard gauge for railroads.

That being said, I'm still not a huge fan of one company controlling the environment we all do development in!


Definitely, understand your point and I can't really refute its merits... I just love the product and it's potential.


Well, there is VSCode OS just like Google Chrome has Chromium.


Hey folks, I see only a few mentions of Sublime Text 3. It is an exceptionally great code editor with equals of VS Code. I don't want to spark any debates here, but I genuinely think that after using it extensively for more than 4 years.


I went back to Sublime Text 3 after a couple of years of VSCode because of memory issues and I'm happy with it.


I use VS Code as my main editor and vim on and off, but just like you I'm not a fan of seeing one product or company killing all competitors.
That's also why I bought a subscription to Onivim 2, which has the ambitious goal of combining the flexibility and extension support of VS Code with the speed and joy of use of vim.

I don't know if it will be my next default editor once it's ready, but i surely hope so!

Ps - and yes, i am a duckDuckGo and Firefox Focus user for the same reasons


There is nothing wrong with having two editors if each one serves a different purpose.

Onivim 2 looks cool, thanks for sharing!


I use Jetbrains products for development. PHPStorm for Php. WebStorm for JavaScript. Jetbrains products have tons of features although they are quite heavy due to the reason that they are written in JAVA.


I doubt they are heavier than loading a whole extra Chromium instance. (See Atom, VS Code, etc.)


Vscodium. It's VS Code without the telemetry/tracking.


That sounds really interesting! Thanks


Former Emacs user here, still remember someone of the shortcuts. I used to a lot of things inside Emacs πŸ˜‚

I currently use Sublime Text 3 and I'm not particularly missing VSCode, though it's still installed and I should probably rip the band aid and remove it πŸ˜‚


ST is a solid editor! I used it for a year or so and never had complaints.


I use vim and am very happy with it!
Unfortunately at work I'm on windows (I'm a Linux guy) so I'm running vim through WSL usually. However the standard at work is overwhelmingly to use VSCode. It's too bad, cause it does have some nice features and my team always jokes with me for not using it. But I'm with you; I'd prefer to use things that aren't the most popular to support diverse competition in our tools. And also because vim will always be my favourite.


Stay strong. My co-workers give me crap sometimes for using Vim too. Quite often when they see me edit code, they are amazed at how great Vim is for editing. So it's a win in the end. (they're all VS Code guys)


Emacs with spacemacs of course. The depth of useful stuff to learn in it just constantly humbles me.

Been getting really into the literate coding stuff lately first with jupyter via ein and then really deep diving into org-mode. It is amazing. I actually paid money for a print out of the org reference guide


Yeah, I got turned on to it by the CTO at my last job. It's seriously been a gamechanger.


I also moved away from VS code for the same reason, wanted to see what was out there and settled on vim (now neovim).

Setting it up for your own workflow is half the fun, especially for web Dev.

I use ale, cocnvim, netrw, and then language specific plugins.


I used Spacemacs in over a year then switch to Vim. Now VIM is my main editor with the set of my own plugins with fzf, nerdtree are my most used. The reason I decided to make the switch is that even though Spacemacs is very good, IMO it can't replace true Vim feeling :)


I spend a lot of time writing T-SQL. I love Azure Data Studio (MS fork VS Code) and mssql-cli.

I often open the same project is several editors & switch back and forth based on their strengths. Example: Azure Data Studio has a fanstasic text editor but query plans are clearer in SSMS.


Started on Dreamweaver and settled on Brackets after trying ST, Atom and VS Code. Because I use Sublime Merge, I thought I'd prefer ST but I love Brackets because their Git plugin has a GUI panel at the bottom. I love the UI and it's great once you set up all the code hinting and syntax highlighting plugins.


I advocate that my teams use the same editor so that we train each other quickly, onboarding is easier, and configurations can be exchanged.

I have just done two 1.5 month experiments with two different configurations for VS Code. I am likely to recommend to my CTO that we purchase IntelliJ for the entire team.


I think the right answer to "What editor do you use?" is "The same one the rest of the team uses." most of the time.

That makes it so that everyone can help one another and work together. I'm a pretty big advocate for pair programming and it helps to use similar tools.


Notepad++ is text editor I usually use.it's fast and supports a lot of languages JavaScript,SQL, and PHP(some may require installation of plugins though)



Notepad++/Sublime for general text manipulation tasks.
IDEs for development.
What is the need for Atom or VS Code?


I wish Notepad++ had a Mac binary. It's a cracking ol' editor.


Notepad++ on Windows (I open variaues EDI formats, java, SQL etc.). It is simple, small, portable and very powerful. Ocassionally I switch to vim within Cmder or gVim as for some tasks it is faster. It is really great to start gVim with zenburn theme and airline. I even added buttons to Total Commander for this. This is myconfig:

set t_Co=256
set guifont=Consolas:h10

" Colors and themes
"colorscheme gruvbox
colorscheme zenburn
"set background=light

"### Hide gvim UI elements
set guioptions-=m  "menu bar
set guioptions-=T  "toolbar
set guioptions-=r  "scrollbar

" Directory and file settings
set bsdir=last
set lines=999 columns=999

"Airline settings
let g:airline_theme='molokai'
"let g:airline_solarized_bg='light'

" ### Some gvim specific keyboard mapping
"Remap double Escape to exit vim:
:nnoremap <Esc><Esc>  :q<CR>

On unix/linux environments I use mainly*vim* with pretty much bare config as I cannot change it on the servers.


I've always liked Vim, even though I was never conversant enough with its entire feature-set to call myself comfortable.

With that said, I do now stick to VS Code. Maybe I am too naive in enjoying a largely hassle-free (and cheap: 'free' cheap) development experience to worry about ifs and buts.

Someone posted about their gripes with VS Code's licensing model. I struggled to identify.

I am simply too busy enjoying VS Code and churning out code, to worry about contrived issues. And I ask forgiveness if I seem rude and/ or ignorant.


No, that's a totally valid view point. I just don't trust large corporations 😁


It's not free and not a text editor, but the best for my workflow is the Webstorm IDE. It has everything for frontend development from the start. I know that the indexing process can be long at first, but after that, its super fast.
For a fast bugfix in a single file I use VIM.


I have a minimal setup with neovim on mac vimrc.

I use almost same setup on windows except youcompleteme replaces deoplete. I use gVim for some reason the color is all messed up on cmder my windows terminal.


I have used Emacs for more than 30 years now.


I use Sublime Text editor it is amazing for web development


I tried a lot of editors (gedit, emacs, atom, vscode, etc) and different configurations for vim. I even used vim for a few years but where I'm really comfortable programming is on Sublime Text with the NeoVintageous plugin. I kind of enjoy mixing mouse and keyboard.


I use the EDLIN editor from MS-DOS. I run it online. For real though, I use;

  • For web stuff, I use Glitch as a dev environment, and export to GitHub, so that's CodeMirror
  • I use MS notepad/Notepad++/Leafpad/Mousepad for small things, depending on what system I'm on.
  • I use nano for most other editing
  • Also, Geany is cool, and I use it when I open it accidentally.

I used to do a lot of C# so I mainly used Visual Studio. It's a powerful IDE but one I'm happy I don't have to interact with much anymore.


I’ll have to say, i keep switching between vscode and vim. Every now and then I gove Sublime Text a chance and it surprises me with its speed and then I see the outdated plugins and shift back to vim or vscode.


I love using tmux and vim together. They are highly configurable and super fast. Though I am using vscode on a daily basis primarily because the terminal experience on windows is so bad, most notably copy and paste. VSCode is also easier for me to reccomend to others as it works well out of the box.


I used IDEA as main tool, and PSPad for scripts and text. Also, several years ago i used Brackets, but it is good only for web(HTML, CSS, JS, a little bit PHP)


I use Atom. Before that, in a pinch, I would use Sublime text.


I'm a fan of Atom. It was my first editor until VS Code came out. I switched because of performance reasons, but now I've had a nagging feeling of switching back to Atom because VS Code's Ruby support is pretty meh.

These are always tough decisions for me 😣


I was an Atom user for a few weeks! Then I started using Sublime because the rest of my team was using it. It's a decent editor, for sure.

Do you use any cool extensions?


A few.

If you write a lot of Ruby erb herlp is handy. I also use atom-html-preview and an IDE terminal.

Overall, I have not done a lot of customizations, but Atom has worked for me.


A Sublime fan, also tried VS Code, better. I'd like to add, whatever editor works for me is the best😎


It depends on the task. At work I use mostly Intellij, but for minor tasks I still rely on Vim (and Atom occasionally). I don't see me leaving Vim too soon.


Used vim since the 90s. Sorry, switched to vscode 6 months ago and haven't gone back. To painful trying to keep things working.


That's why I like Spacemacs tbh, low hassle.

I used VS Code for the same reason, but I'm interested in what comes next. Onivim 2 lools really cool.


I use emacs for everything I can, and reluctantly switch into other editors when left no other choice.


Emacs if you are king of geeks :lool
vim if you are a little geek :):D


I use PHP Storm (Jet Brains IDE). I've found it to be both an intuitive and powerful tool.


For a while before I started using vscode I used brackets, which I found very useful for front end specific development. I also previously used notepad++


I used Brackets a few years ago, after that I swapped to Atom, then VS Code, then a stint in Sublime Text (because my team was using it), and now I'm using Spacemacs.