The difference between an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and a Code Editor is that IDEs are typically built for software development. IDEs also come equipped/bundled with a code editor, a debugger, and also integrated build tools that make development much easier. These are the kind of features that Web Designers are never going to touch; for them, simply relying on a code editor is fine.
Even though most Web Designers will work using visual tools, there is still the factor of having to do some front-end coding and tooling, and not everything in a web design can be achieved through a visual tool; though that seems to be changing rapidly. With that in mind, our post today will focus on the best code editors for web designers, all of which are flexible and easy to configure for most comfortable code writing environment.
Sublime is free for trial, but you will be prompted once in a while to purchase the full version. Do keep in mind that the free version doesn’t restrict you from any features, but it’s nice to invest in something that will pay itself back a thousand times over.
Notepad++ is the successor of the default Notepad application that many of us grew up with. It is literally a lightweight code editor; perfect for web designers, front-end developers, and the like. Notepad++ simple to use, but advanced enough to understand coding concepts and to offer customization options that allow for a more open coding experience.
Atom is a new code editor that comes from the highly acclaimed open-source community, GitHub. This code editor has attracted a large crowd of supporters, thanks to its flexible design, great optimization features, and the intense community support that allows users to become a part of the editor itself. A built-in package manager means that all your coding can happen from within the code editor itself. This saves you time, and in turn, lengthening your periods of productivity. Those who want to write code fast will enjoy the autocomplete feature; it intuitively learns about your coding habits and the language you’re coding in.
Vim is a highly configurable text editor for an efficient text editing. It is an improved version of the Vi editor, distributed with most UNIX systems. Attending a developer conference and coming across someone who doesn’t know about the Vim code editor is going to be a tough thing to achieve. Vim has been around for ages, and anyone who is a religious UNIX user will most likely be using this code editor to develop and design. Although it’s highly sought after, Vim can be a tough cookie to crack when it comes to learning all about it. If you enjoy using shortcuts when working on your UNIX system, you will undoubtedly enjoy Vim.
Emacs is the successor to Vim, at least according to those who use it. It is a screen editor, but not an insertion mode editor. That means any character typed in Emacs is automatically inserted into the file, unless it includes a command prefix. Many prefer Emacs over the customization options it offer. Although, you might want to try it out for yourself to make sure which one you like the most.
Komodo Edit is the lightweight and open-source alternative to the Komodo IDE. This makes Komodo Edit the perfect solution to web designers who need only a code editor with the basic code development functionality. You will see on the homepage of Komodo Edit the comparison between the Editor and IDE. However, you have to keep in mind that the IDE will naturally have a lot more features because of how an IDE works. We highly recommend Komodo Edit for designers of any level.
Brackets is another amazing code editor that is almost exclusively for web designers. With built-in visual and preprocessor tool support, Brackets takes the word “difficult” out of the equation when it comes to designing websites directly from the browser. Brackets gets frequent updates. The platform also listens to community feedback to make necessary improvements and/or optimizations. A feature by the name of Extract allows you to extract design information directly from your PSD files; this is something you won’t find in any other code editor today. With Brackets, you can make changes to CSS and HTML. You’ll also instantly see those changes on screen. Furthermore, you can see where your CSS selector is being applied in the browser, simply by putting your cursor on it. It’s the power of a code editor with the convenience of in-browser dev tools.
If you’re looking for a simple solution towards building websites without any distractions, Coda is likely to be your answer. Coda is the perfect text editor that supports coding syntax, a multitude of languages, and other code highlighting options that will make development fun and interesting. Those designers who are more technical will enjoy the in-built MySQL database editor. It gives you an edge over having to use different tools to develop the same site.
TextMate, although limited only to OS X users, is one of the most comprehensive text/code editors on the market. It is not seen as an IDE; but thanks to its snippets and macros features, it has become a great substitute for designers and developers who need customization and flexibility in their workflow.
ICEcoder stands out by being one of the only browser code editors that you can use, both online or offline. The ability to edit code directly in the browser is appealing because of how much flexibility it brings towards live testing your code and experiencing the design growth as it happens, in real-time. Themes, code hints, database management and so many other features that will be appealing to both developers and designers alike.