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Development Tools

Sublime Text 2 vs. Notepad ++

I currently use Notepad++ as my text editor but was curious about Sublime Text 2. For those that have used both Sublime Text and Notepad++ is it worth switching. As far as I can tell I Notepad++ has a lot of the same features and you can extend it with add-ons.

I'm open to trying new things that may make my life easier but was curious if there is enough difference to make the change.

Thanks, Andy

3 Answers

TL;DR: Yes.

First, "vi mode" or "vintage mode" as it's called is not a minor difference, it's a HUGE FEATURE. The ability to give modal text commands from Sublime is a productivity dream. I can't even operate in Sublime without Vintage mode turned on. You really need to be able to use as many keyboard navigation around your text editor whenever possible for maximum speed. Sublime can be a great way for Vim novices to start to wrap their head around modal editing while still having all the cool GUI features a click away.

Second, yes, Notepad has plugins, but not in the way that Sublime does. Sublime takes the massive plugin library built up around TextMate and extends it even further. Sublime came with a million plugins out of the box because TextMate has a million plugins and that situation has only gotten better as Sublime has matured. It also has the wonderful Package Control (https://sublime.wbond.net/) plugin which allows you to search, install, uninstall, edit, etc all plugins right from a hotkey. Comparing Notepad++ to Sublime because they're both scriptable and have plugin architecture is like comparing Gimp to Photoshop simply because they both have a plugin architecture. Library matters.

Third, if you have to travel cross platform a lot, Sublime is basically exactly the same on every platform aside from some modifier keys while Notepad++ doesn't exist. It's nice to be able to load up the same config in every OS much like you see with Vim and Emacs. I prefer the experience and ease of configuration over Vim and Emacs also. The config is a simple JSON file and it's very easy to make the editor do exactly what you want or git sync your dotfiles like you would with your command line editor.

Fourth, it's commercial software but you can freely use the demo forever, so you may as well try it out and see if you like it.

Fifth, there's a reason that no one has bothered to port Notepad++ to Linux or Mac (libraries aside) and it's because Unix has better editors. There's no reason to look for a text editor when Vim and Emacs are installed out of the box. Windows, that's not the case. You're given Notepad and Wordpad out of the box which are both abysmal. Immediately everyone wants to go look for a free text editor to do even the most basic tasks.

Something else you might want to consider is simply skipping Sublime also and simply learning Vim or Emacs. I can promise you you'll never have to worry about those programs not being available or relevant 20 years into the future.

Colin Stodd
Colin Stodd
3,160 Points

The only thing I have found Sublime to be better at is the Auto Complete. Notepad++ does have it, but it does not work as well as Sublime.

There is a much greater learning curve with Sublime. There is no GUI interface. Everything (settings) is added through what they call "Snippets", and to change something as simple as your font, you have to do it manually from the "Settings-User" menu. Its very frustrating as a novice (Which I still am). The "Main" reason I switched to Sublime is that I intend on using a Mac in the future to create iOS applications, so I want something thats the same on all Linux, Windows, and OS X platforms. And Sublime seems to be the winner. But its taken me a lot of time on google trying to figure the most basic stuff out :/ For HTML/CSS, I dont see any reason why not to stick with Notepad++, (other than the reasons such as mine). Although, programming in other languages, Sublime probably has some more benefits.