I have been a Sublime Text user for many years now. When I started my education in the I.T industry at college I was using Adobe’s Dreamweaver (No, not the design view… never the design view!) which always felt safe to use because was the first IDE I had ever used. After a while it felt a bit too much, there where buttons everywhere and many things I didn’t fully understand. I wanted something smaller, simpler and much easier to use.
I went through a few coding tools before I settled with Sublime Text such as Notepad++ which was fantastic at the time. I quickly grew out of Notepad++ and as I was starting to enter the world of design and wanting things to look their best and be their best in terms of usability, especially because I was still quite new to coding of any kind. I looked at the tools I had used up until the point of changing which where Dreamweaver, Visual Studio and Notepad++ and decided that the problem with the first two where that they offered so much. Sounds a bit odd to not like the fact that they offered so much but it was the face full of buttons and icons and settings that I didn’t understand that did it for me. Enter Sublime Text.
If I remember rightly The first version I used was Sublime Text 2, I had just started studying Web Applications Development at Plymouth University and wanted something I could rely on when it came to coding. The other options that I was interested in where TextMate, Coda and Espresso but the issue with these options where that they are Mac only and at the time I wasn’t a fan of Mac’s of any form, it was all about powerhouse PC’s. So I had no choice but to find something that suited what I wanted that I could use on a PC.
I came across Sublime Text by chance. It was exactly what I was looking for in a code editor. It was simple and clutter free and didn’t scare the hell out of me. Now, I am still using Sublime Text, Even after changing my entire workflow from PC to Mac. I have had the chance to try the alternatives that are Mac only and are also really great code editors but I am really happy with Sublime Text and will need something extra special to change to something else.
Why use Sublime Text?
Well there are many reasons to use Sublime Text and I have listed a few of them to help you decide if it’s the text editor for you!
Works on Windows, Mac & Linux
This point kind of explains itself really!
It’s really fast!
It’s fast when loading, creating and saving files and folders. Currently the Sublime Text 3 Beta is available and offers improvements from its predecessor. What else could you ask for. It’s quick for development too! With the many keyboard shortcuts available you can always find a quicker way of doing tasks that maybe a few clicks away with less hassle. There is a bit of a learning process with these shortcuts because there are a lot of them but completely worth learning. Time can be saved and help is at hand with the many different packages available for Sublime Text, but more on that later.
Most text editors these days have code completion and snippets to help you code quicker. You can also make your own snippets in sublime text. If there isn’t a snippet available to do what you want either built into Sublime Text or through package you can create your own. You can check out this tutorial on creating your own Sublime Text snippets.
Sublime Text 2 looks great. It’s so simple to use. You have a window to code in that has a great little feature called the minimap which shows your code and can be used to scroll down through it. There is also an optional sidebar (I highly suggest you use it). The layout can be changed to have different amounts of columns or rows or a grid which can be really handy if you need to look at multiple files and pieces of code at the same time. Also a very handy feature for those who get distracted easily, distraction free mode.
The icing on the cake for me are the themes. There are a bunch of great themes that come baked into Sublime Text but the best part about the web community is they love to get involved and they have gone wild making themes left, right and centre. My personal favourite theme is called Spacegray and comes with three variations. Also the tomorrow theme package which comes with some great looking themes and another popular choice is Soda. Another option is Dayle Rees’ colour scheme package. You can create your own themes if your up to the task and feel you can make something that better suits you. There is a tool online that you can use called TmTheme editor (requires Google Chrome) which has a web interface for creating themes for Sublime Text.
The Sublime Text community have worked very hard to create fantastic packages that are available to download. I develop a lot using WordPress and there is a package that provides code completion and code snippets which massively increases the speed in which I can develop. Firstly you will need to install the package manager by copying the following code for either sublime text 2 or 3 into the console which can be open using ctrl + ‘.
For sublime text 3:
import urllib.request,os,hashlib; h = '7183a2d3e96f11eeadd761d777e62404e330c659d4bb41d3bdf022e94cab3cd0'; pf = 'Package Control.sublime-package'; ipp = sublime.installed_packages_path(); urllib.request.install_opener( urllib.request.build_opener( urllib.request.ProxyHandler()) ); by = urllib.request.urlopen( 'http://sublime.wbond.net/' + pf.replace(' ', '%20')).read(); dh = hashlib.sha256(by).hexdigest(); print('Error validating download (got %s instead of %s), please try manual install' % (dh, h)) if dh != h else open(os.path.join( ipp, pf), 'wb' ).write(by)
And Sublime text 2:
import urllib2,os,hashlib; h = '7183a2d3e96f11eeadd761d777e62404e330c659d4bb41d3bdf022e94cab3cd0'; pf = 'Package Control.sublime-package'; ipp = sublime.installed_packages_path(); os.makedirs( ipp ) if not os.path.exists(ipp) else None; urllib2.install_opener( urllib2.build_opener( urllib2.ProxyHandler()) ); by = urllib2.urlopen( 'http://sublime.wbond.net/' + pf.replace(' ', '%20')).read(); dh = hashlib.sha256(by).hexdigest(); open( os.path.join( ipp, pf), 'wb' ).write(by) if dh == h else None; print('Error validating download (got %s instead of %s), please try manual install' % (dh, h) if dh != h else 'Please restart Sublime Text to finish installation')
To open the package manager once it’s installed simply go to Preferences > Browse Packages or use the shortcuts ctrl + Shift + P for Windows or Linux, if you are a Mac user, cmd + Shift + P.
Where Sublime Text falls short, there is probably a package that will fill your needs, here are some really useful ones I have come across in my time using Sublime Text.
This package was previously known as Zen Coding. It’s a really great way of speeding up your HTML and CSS workflow. You can use the following code:
to create the following HTML by pressing the tab key:
<div> <ul> <li><a href=""></a></li> </ul> </div>
The jQuery package provides a bunch of helpful snippets to help you with your jQuery development.
Exactly the same as with the jQuery package, it provides a bunch of helpful snippets to help you with HTML5 development.
Git is a massive part of the modern web workflow and if you aren’t using you probably should be. This package integrates Git so that you can manage your repositories within Sublime Text.
This package is great if you develop using WordPress. It provides a bunch of really helpful snippets that can help and speed up WordPress development.
This is a collection of PHP CodeSniffer, PHP Coding Standards Fixer, the PHP Linter and phpmd support which are all really helpful for PHP developers.