Wednesday, February 01, 2006


If you're in need of a very good text editor, look no farther than jEdit, the self-proclaimed programmer's text editor. It handles any kind of editing task you can throw at it, and I've been very happy with it since I switched from TextPad.

I'll start with my only real complaint -- since jEdit is written in Java, it takes longer to load than native Windows applications. But the fact that it is written in Java is also its strength because it runs on just about any platform. Once loaded, jEdit is a snappy performer and shows none of the lag that I've experienced in other Java desktop applications.

Since it is designed to be a programmer's editor, it handles the normal programmer's editing tasks such as syntax highlighting, auto brace indentation, and auto tag closing (in HTML and XML). It also allows you to write scripts in BeanShell, which is very powerful and something that TextPad lacked -- the easiest way to learn BeanShell is to record a macro and see what code it produced.

jEdit also has a number of plugins and I use several of them -- XML indenter, XPath Tool, XSLT Tool, and the Text tool that supplies text manipulation (such as sorting) that I'm surprised did not come with jEdit out of the box. The Plugin Manager is great -- you find, download, and install the plugins from within jEdit so there's no searching around for plugins.

jEdit also supports code folding (collapsing and expanding blocks of code such as classes, functions, loops, and try/exception), which is very handy for keeping your place in larger chunks of code (the ones you wrote when you were younger and less experienced).

I know that editors are very sacred to programmers, but if you're the slightest bit unhappy with your current editor, I suggest giving jEdit a try. And it's free, so you don't have anything to lose but a little bit of time.

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