Cross-platform code editor for Mac and PC?
October 13, 2011 7:24 AM   Subscribe

What great code/text editors provide a perfectly consistent experience across both Mac and Windows environments?

All Mac in the office, all Windows (7, if it matters) at home. I tinker a lot with my own sites at lunch at work, and sometimes come in early or stay late for better focus. Most of my editing is done at home.

90% of what I'm doing is HTML and CSS, but working within a JavaScript and/or Python and/or Django and/or PHP environment, so something that provides context (colour-coding, most usually) is helpful.

Right now I'm using TextWrangler on the Mac and Notepad++ at home, and they're both fine, but I'd like something that gives me a universally consistent experience on both platforms, rather than each having their own menus and shortcuts and FTP protocols and quirks.

Paid software is an option in the <$50 range.
posted by Shepherd to Computers & Internet (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
One of the great things about Vim is that it is available for all platforms, and performs very, very similarly across all of them. I use MacVim at work, GVim at home on my Ubuntu machine, and Vim for Windows at my second p/t job. About the only noticeable difference between them is that the Windows version doesn't handle tabs and splitting windows as well as MacVim and GVim, but that may be because I'm using a very old version of Vim for Windows.

Part of the reason they're all so similar is that the point of vim is to not have to touch the mouse much at all. So the little differences in the GUI are not a part of your experience while using the text editor.

Of course, using vi requires that you learn to use vi, which might not interest you.
posted by richyoung at 7:32 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first one that comes to mind is Eclipse. But maybe it's too much for simple HTML.
posted by kag at 7:35 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's time to pick a side in the greatest holy war in history: you can also get Emacs for the platform of your choice.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:37 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're either going to pick a UNIXy editor (vi, Emacs), pick a cross platform editor that makes sacrifices on all platforms, buy a Mac for home or virtualize/boot camp Windows on your Mac at work.

I'd get a Mac and TextMate, but that's way out of your <$50 requirement.
posted by jeffch at 7:57 AM on October 13, 2011

Best answer: If you don't want to go the Unixy route, Sublime Text 2 is solid. It's a hair above your price range ($60), but has a very liberal trial (occasional nag boxes and a mark in the title bar), and the developer is very responsive. Works almost perfectly between OSX and Windows.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 8:17 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Both Vim and Sublime Text 2 will do what you want.

Vim may seem daunting, but it's really not. Invest 15 minutes in it and you'll know enough to use it regularly. Once you're using it regularly, you can pick up more advanced stuff at whatever pace you prefer.
posted by wrok at 8:20 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could use very simple text editors (as you are now) but use TextExpander and Breevy to handle all the code completion stuff?
posted by modernserf at 8:35 AM on October 13, 2011

Best answer: WebStorm by Jetbrains is cross platform, if you can stomach $70.

Has a 30 day trial. I'm just trying it out myself. Seems nice enough.
posted by ChrisManley at 8:36 AM on October 13, 2011

Gedit is available for Mac/Unix/Windows and is pretty OK, at least to the extent that I use it for 10 hours a day. It's basically like Notepad++ with (for me) better plugins.
posted by rhizome at 9:28 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Netbeans or Aptana? They're both free, but may be too "heavy" if you're just looking for a simple text editor.
posted by hooray at 9:29 AM on October 13, 2011

Response by poster: I thought -- from Notepad++ and TextWrangler -- that this was a pretty standard feature, but now that I'm mucking around looking at things, I see it's not...

FTP features/live editing is a huge plus for me as well.
posted by Shepherd at 9:37 AM on October 13, 2011

Best answer: Recently I switched from SlickEdit to jEdit, both are cross-platform. jEdit is quirky, but it does what I need it to do.
posted by and for no one at 10:19 AM on October 13, 2011

Best answer: Nth-ing Vim. It's reputation as a ridiculous and impossible to learn editor is, in my opinion, greatly exaggerated. I started using it because it was supposed to be hard to learn and I'm just that kind of person. But I absolutely love it and I'm way more productive in Vim then anything else. I can barely even use other editors anymore. I end up with ":w" littered all over my documents without knowing how they got there. On the other hand, I'm a little weird.

As wrok says, 15 minutes of playing around (or working through the built in tutorial) will get you able to do most basic tasks. After that, I found this really helpful for learning new commands a little bit at a time.

If your website is on a *nix server it probably has vim installed. If you've got ssh access you can just edit your files in place on the server if you want to.
posted by Mister_Sleight_of_Hand at 10:37 AM on October 13, 2011

There's always gedit: nice, basic, toolset with syntax checking and Linux, Mac, and Windows.
posted by fifthrider at 10:43 AM on October 13, 2011

I would 2nd kag's Eclipse recommendation, it might look like overkill for HTML, but if you are working with PHP, Python, JavaScript, and Django, and you are looking for FTP functionality, testing, etc. it can handle all of that. Eclipse is kind of the Swiss Army Knife of code editors/development environments... whatever you need, there is likely a plugin for it that integrates nearly seamlessly into the development environment.
posted by baniak at 10:49 AM on October 13, 2011

Response by poster: Following up on a few of these: love love LOVE Sublime Text 2 visually and aesthetically, but there's no FTP functionality (at least, none that seems evident), which is kind of a dealbreaker for me. Is there a good plugin that covers this? (on searching their forums, a follow-up question: is mounting really a practical and intelligent solution to live text editing?)

WebStorm question: would I really have to buy different IDEs for HTML/CSS/JavaScript and for Python? I'm trying to teach myself Python, and buying two totally different pieces of software so I can do CSS/HTML in one and Python in the other is definitely out of the question. I downloaded the WebStorm demo, and it doesn't seem to recognize any Python context in a test .py document at all, so that seems... bad.

Eclipse question: there seem to be lots of IDEs and options. Is there a one-size-fits-all that really covers context-appropriate editing for HTML, PHP, CSS, Python, JavaScript, etc.? I know baniak just said it covers all of these, but in a single piece of software?

Vim looks swell, but scary. I'll make some time to futz around with it, but I'm a bit of a baby when it comes to liking things that have good aesthetic environments, so I think the whole “hardcore” look-and-feel, including the text-only interface, might be a no-sale for me.
posted by Shepherd at 11:44 AM on October 13, 2011

WebStorm is mostly just for HTML/CSS/JavaScript.

Eclipse covers everything. It's very plugin based. Once you get it setup, it should work for everything and anything.

It's just a bit of a beast to get going up front sometimes. But, consistent once you're used to it.
posted by ChrisManley at 1:29 PM on October 13, 2011

I use Emacs on Linux and Windows. When I use a Mac, I use Aquamacs. They have the same keyboard shortcuts and functions. If you find Vim to be a little scary, you can try Emacs. Far be it for me to end a war, but I found it to be more user friendly (but maybe just for user-me).
posted by bluefly at 2:06 PM on October 13, 2011

Emacs also has TRAMP (Transparent Remote (file) Access, Multiple Protocol) and AngeFTP for editing remote files.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:16 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

TextMate <==> e.

e is roughly a workalike to TextMate.

Textmate's $55, e's $46.95.
posted by artlung at 4:52 PM on October 13, 2011

Re: your FTP needs; I've found Cyberduck to serve my needs for editing live.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 5:46 PM on October 13, 2011

Komodo Edit is a free cross-platform editor that's a lightweight version of Komodo IDE. It's great for HTML/CSS/PHP/Python. The full IDE is a bit expensive but worth the money if you find the free version isn't robust enough. It does have the ability to open remote files via FTP/SFTP.
posted by camcgee at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2011

Sublime Text 2 is basically Textmate for the modern age, except it works on the three major platforms.

For working remotely (I do this at work), I mount the drive over NFS, but I can't say with any certainty that I'd bother setting this up at home. I'd probably figure something out though, because I can seriously barely imagine working in anything other than ST2 (except maybe VIM, but that's a ways out.)

Regarding Eclipse, I would suggest that you check out Aptana Studio, which is a pre-configured Eclipse (or somehow Eclipse-based) geared toward web development. Personally, I always found Eclipse to be bloated and slow, but people use it.
posted by !Jim at 10:11 PM on October 13, 2011

It has been awhile but you should be able to find an Eclipse configuration that will work for you.

Baring that, jEdit will do the trick.
posted by mmascolino at 6:06 AM on October 14, 2011

[aside] Wow, so far I am really liking Sublime Text 2. Absolutely worthwhile to give that one a try given it's truly cross-platform -- even if it lacks remote system mounting. [/aside]

As for loading remote files, on the Mac I typically use Interarchy, which works pretty well.
posted by artlung at 9:30 AM on October 14, 2011

RedCar is one more option to throw into the mix.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:50 PM on October 14, 2011

Response by poster: Sadly, both Komodo and Aptana refuse to work on my workplace Macs -- it might have something to do with the centralized server structure.

Price aside, I'm already a fan of Cyberduck, and I like Sublime to the point that I might be willing to suck up the expense and inconvenience and roll with it.
posted by Shepherd at 2:55 PM on October 14, 2011

By the way, Sublime Text 2 has a free trial that lasts 30 days, but the software continues to work normally and fully-functionally after that point. You should absolutely pay for it (it was a no-brainer for me after I used the trial for a couple months), but I don't think you should lose sleep over it if you use it for a month or two to make sure it works for you before doing so.
posted by !Jim at 8:27 PM on October 14, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input: after a lot of hemming and hawing, I think I'm in love with Sublime Text 2, despite the lack of FTP synch -- I'm already well accustomed to Cyberduck, and after some experimenting, "Open With" function in Cyberduck accomplishes everything I'd need from the FTP browser in the text editor.

I also got near-instant responses from their support team when I inquired about license portability, which is a good sign. There's somebody awake at the switch.

I like Aptana the most in theory, but in practice, it takes a lot of work to get it up to speed, and I'm not at the point where I need a full development suite yet.
posted by Shepherd at 6:12 AM on October 20, 2011

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