Top Five Code Editors to Help You Code

woman using code editor on computer to edit code

Code editing is a critical skill for web developers in today’s digital economy. Web developers write code to create the websites and applications we all use every single day. To do so, these professionals use source code editors such as GitHub or VSStudio, and many others. In the quest to learn how to develop software, a source code editor is one of the most important tools you have at your disposal.

If you’re on the path toward learning to code, it’s important to remember code editing is done on many different types of code editors: free code editors, open-source code editors, and code editors for Mac or windows. Choosing a platform to write code that suits you is a critical first step in your journey to becoming a software developer.

In this article, we will highlight five important code editors you need to be able to work with as you make your way toward a tech career.  Kenzie Academy from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is ready to provide all the knowledge, skills, and tools you will need to master any source code editor.

What is Software Development?

Before we take a closer look at code editors, we need to know why we need them — code editing is the backbone of web development.

Nathan Holt, a Kenzie Academy program facilitator who works in the CBD software engineering back-end development course, provided an overview of software development in a recent Zoom presentation. He explained that software development begins with the idea for a web page, it runs all the way through designing, programming, documenting, and testing phases, and culminates with the act of fixing any bugs that have crept in at the end of the process.

What Role Do Code Editors Play?

A code editor is a text editor program for editing the source code of computer programs according to the language. This is the program that you open on your laptop when you’re ready to do the actual coding work. This is the space where web developers create, and where the magic happens.

Code editors provide features like syntax highlighting, auto suggestions, and auto indenting to make your code more readable. Some advanced code editors come with lots of plugins and are integrated with terminal, git, debugger, and more.

“Programming is a language, like any other language you would go to school to learn,” explains Holt. “And just like all the other languages, there are rules that have to be in place for your programming sentences to be syntactically complete and to make sense. But with software development, just a little tiny mistake, for example, using a semicolon instead of a colon or vice versa, could cause your entire program to shut down if it’s put in the wrong place. You may miss it, but good code editors will instantly pick up a problem like that and highlight it.”

Not All Code Editors Are Built The Same

There are three basic categories of code editors that you need to know about before you select the code editor that you’re going to use to write code.

  1. INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT EDITORS (IDE): These are very powerful, yet bulky editing environments. Typically, an IDE will bring all the basic tools that are required to write and edit the software into one application, including a code editor, a compiler or interpreter, and a debugger. You can access them through one graphical user interface. That makes them great for experienced editors, but they can be a bit daunting and off-putting for novices.
  2. LIGHTWEIGHT CODE EDITORS: As the name suggests, a lightweight code editor contains fewer features and less functionality than a full IDE. That means that they run a lot smoother on less powerful machines. They are also fast, super clean, and contain very little clutter. If you need to build extra features, you can leverage the large plugin communities to encourage customization.
  3. ONLINE CODE EDITORS: These small lightweight, cloud-based editors are great for quick experiments and for tasks such as practicing, learning, sharing, and portability. With an online code editor, Github for example, Internet access is required. While they have fewer editor features, they are great for collaboration.

Remember that one is not necessarily better than the others, it just depends on what you need to do at that particular moment.

Five of the Most Useful Code Editors

Here’s a selection of code editors that you will come across as you begin your software development journey.

Most Useful Code Editors

  • VSCode

    Made by Microsoft for Windows, Linux, and macOS, VisualStudio Code (known as VSCode) is an IDE source-code editor which was released in 2015. Features include support for debugging, syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets, code refactoring, and embedded Git.

  • Sublime Text

    This shareware cross-platform source code editor is great for coding, markup, and prose. Sublime Text was first released in 2008. It employs a Python API and natively supports many programming languages and markup languages. Users can expand its functionality with plugins when necessary.

  • GitHub

    GitHub is an open-source, cloud-based software development platform that is used by millions around the world. Owned by Microsoft, it began in 2008 and provides the distributed version control of Git plus access control, bug tracking, software feature requests, task management, continuous integration, as well as wikis for every project.

  • IntelliJ IDEA

    As the letters IDE in the name suggest, this code editor is an Integrated Development Editor, written in Java for developing computer software written in Java, Kotlin, Groovy, and other JVM-based languages. It has all the bells and whistles that you might need for any Java program that you’re working with now. The problem is that it’s bulky and a bit slow because it has so many components that it needs to load.

  • Atom

    This code editor is one of the most useful and easiest to use. Atom is a free and open-source text and source code editor for macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows. Developed by GitHub in 2014, it features support for plug-ins written in JavaScript, as well as embedded Git Control.

Try out each of these tools until you find the code editor that works for you and allows you to create the kind of software that you have always dreamed of building.

The Kenzie Difference

Fast-moving industries such as technology, require educational programs that can adapt to change and are in touch with the latest industry developments. Kenzie Academy from SNHU provides exactly that.

Our fully-remote programs emphasize career readiness and have enough built-in flexibility to accommodate your busy schedule. You should expect to spend your time in a project-based learning experience, working by yourself, in groups, and with the guidance of our experienced Subject Matter Experts. If you’re new to the industry, the good news is that no prior coding experience is necessary. Begin your journey on a trusted pathway into the industry. Ready to get started? Apply today!

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