Friday, January 19, 2007

Editor's Pick

Today is the Windows Developer Tools Day, as unilaterally proclaimed by the folks at O'Reilly, and everyone is invited to share their best tools on the Windows platform. Having contributed a presentation of NxBRE, an Open Source .NET Business Rules Engine, to their Windows Developer Power Tools book, you could expect me to talk about it, as the selfish nerd I am.

But no, I prefer to share my passion for jEdit, my choice for an all purpose versatile open source editor. Funnily, when discussion comes to editors, geeks just go berserk and try to prove how superior is their favorite tool. I will try to avoid this kind of flame war and will just share what I like most about jEdit:

  • It is easily extensible to support new features via an integrated plugin manager. Each plugin could contribute new views that you can dock anywhere and create your own environment. I personally use the XML support plugins a lot and dock them all around the editor window for a great work environment.

  • Adding syntactic coloring for new languages is just a bliss. For example, I created what is called a mode to simplify the edition of WAC files in just a few minutes.

  • The integrated HyperSearch facility just finds things on your hard drive without referring to any particular animal or having to index the terabytes of source code you write on weekends just for fun.

  • It is cross platform, which means I can use it when I work on Linux or Mac. How can this matter to a Windows developer? Well, sooner or later, you will be exposed to an OS that is not a member of the Microsoft galaxy so how cool will it be to just use the same tool everywhere?

  • It can open files not created on Windows systems without stumbling on different flavors of Newline and showing everything on one line. Again, this might seem like unnecessary for an hard core Windows-only-and-the-rest-of-the-universe-can-die developer, but again it happens more often than expected when you start to share files with people in the rest-of-the-universe!
So jEdit might not become an editor's pick but it surely is my pick for an editor!


Jim Holmes said...

I've never used jEdit, but I'll certainly add it to my list of things to try!

Many thanks for your great contributions to our book, David. Your article helped the book be the tremendous work it is. (I may be slightly biased...)

David Dossot said...

You are much welcome: contributing to your book was a great opportunity!

Yep, jEdit is worth trying: the "j" in its name might be offputting for non-Java developers, but its Java taste remain pretty light (at most, if you edit very large file, you would have to add a -D startup parameter to top up the maximum size of the VM).