Chad Heinle profile picture

By Brandon Berndt, Consultant

Categories: Tools interface 1

Choosing a text editor is not a decision to make lightly for developers, and it may not be the easiest to make either. There are quite a number of options out there, many of which are viable options. Like any tool in your arsenal, what is most important is choosing the right one for the job. I can still recall my earlier days of using notepad, Dreamweaver, Sublime, each an opportunity to experiment and functional. It wasn’t until a coworker introduced me to Brackets that I found something exceptional. Now it is important to mention that my job mainly involves putting together HTML and CSS, as well as a small amount of Javascript here and there. With that in mind, I find that Brackets is a really great tool for helping me accomplish this. Brackets is Open Source and Cross Platform available on Mac, Windows and Linux. As a result, probably its biggest selling point is that it is completely free to use. interface 2

Like most other editors it has many of the standard features and functionality you would come to expect. Where the editor really shines is when you begin adding extensions to help customize it for your needs. Due to its open source community, there are plenty of helpful tools created by developers for developers. A few of the extensions I use that help keep me organized are ‘Indent Guides’, so I can always know my tags are complete, and ‘Beautify’, which cleans up formatting so I don’t have to worry about messy code. Of course there are many more to help you customize the editor to your needs, and they are all easily added and toggleable within the editor. interface 3

A few more features available with the default editor are The Live Preview button, which opens up your code directly into the browser and allows you to view the changes you make to your code in real time providing instant visible results. Switching between your working files through the file tree is seamless and managed directly within the editor, so you can always access them as quickly as needed for your process.

But you’re probably wondering, if I’m going to be looking at this for an extended period of time, can I change how it looks? Yes, like most other editors, there are also a wide selection of custom color themes to choose from. In addition to the default selection, you can also venture back to that extensions tab we talked about and look for custom developed themes as well! My theme of choice is ‘Monokai’, a scheme based on the theme from the Sublime text editor, which still holds a place in my heart. There are a few more features such as preprocessor support and inline editing that I won’t cover here, but needless to say there are quite a few things that will improve your process.

When it comes to text editors there is no shortage of options available. What is most important is finding the one that is right for you and works with you. I have only covered a few of the benefits that Brackets can provide and hopefully piqued your interest enough to check it out...and hey, it’s free! It is a great asset for any web designer or front end developer and it may just be the tool you’re looking for to help improve your workflow. To explore what Brackets has to offer you can download it directly from their site at