[clug] Syntax-highlighting source code editors

Mike Carden mike.carden at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 09:57:49 GMT 2008

I recently taught a short course on File Formats to a general adult
audience and as a part of it, discussed text editors.

A few of the 20 or so participants had heard of editors other than
Notepad, but most couldn't fathom why anyone would care. Our
faux-argument around emacs and vi was pretty well lost on the class.

I like Eclipse for all sorts of reasons, but if you just want to edit
text it's like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

Emacs is awesome in that it can do anything if you invest 82.6 hours
in learning its keybindings and idiosyncrasies. It no doubt matches
and defeats eclipse if you struggle far enough up the learning curve,
though I note that few skilled people have good knowledge of both.
Joe, nano, gedit - all good. I quite like Kate and I'd like to see
what the Kate and Gedit developers would come up with if they worked

I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that everyone should learn
enough of vi / vim / gvim to be able to write Hello World in their
syntax of choice. Why? Because when you're tenuously linked into a
remote system by whatever means, there's a bloody good chance that it
at least runs vi and you should be able to do minimal text editing
that way.

Of course if you are the sort who routinely echoes to text files for
editing purposes or who flips bits in memory to alter state, I salute
your hard-coredness and step away. For us mere mortals there are text
editors and many of them are incredibly good.


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