Top 10 Free Source Code Editors – Reviewed

By . Filed in Tools

With professional code editor like Dreamweaver, Coda, Textmate and others, its no surprise that more and more people have partially forgotten about simpler code editor such as Window’s Notepad. We do understand that simpler does not mean the best option however, there are simpler yet professional code editors that might just suits what you need!

free code editors

These are what I found to be the best bang for zero bucks (with an added bonus). Feel free to share your personal favorite in the comments.

1. Notepad ++

Notepad++ is an open source replacement for the original Notepad program (which comes with Windows) and supports several languages. Even though it is built for Microsoft Windows, it can also run on Linux, Unix, BSD and Mac OS X (using Wine). Immediately upon starting Notepad++ you will notice the difference between it and the original Notepad. There are loads of additional buttons and features like plugin support, tabbed editing, drag and drop, split screen editing, synchronized scrolling, spell checker (via an included plugin), find and replace over multiple documents, file comparison, zooming and much more. "Notepadd++ supports syntax highlighting and syntax folding for 48 programming, scripting, and markup languages" (source).

As the website explains, the program is written in C++ and uses pure Win32 API and STL which ensures a higher execution speed and smaller program size. If you would like to learn how to make Notepadd++ your default text editor, you can find instructions here.

notepad ++

Pros

  • Lightweight and launches quickly
  • Tabbed editing interface
  • Plugin support and macros
  • Ability to add bookmarks
  • Drag and drop support
  • Find and replace across multiple documents
  • Full screen mode
  • Minimize to system tray
  • Style configurator for a customizable interface
  • Syntax and brace highlighting
  • Auto indentation
  • Auto completion
  • Code folding
  • Text folding
  • Compiler integration
  • Search and replace
  • Spell checker (via plugin)
  • Collaborative editing (via plugin)
  • FTP support (via plugin)
  • Multiple instances
  • File comparison

Cons

  • No HTTP, SSH or WebDav support for remote file editing
  • Does not support large files
  • Another program is needed in order to run on Mac OS X

2. TextWrangler

Unlike Notepadd++ mentioned above, TextWrangler is not open source and it is a Mac-only program. It also only supports one language: English. It is, however, a very "powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator’s tool." While on the surface it looks like just a plain and basic text editor, it possesses a lot of features. There’s a Documents Drawer (closed by default) that can be opened to view and compare selected documents. As a code editor it includes syntax coloring and function navigation for 44 programming languages like ActionScript, C++, HTML, JavaScript, Perl, Python, SQL and VBScript. With TextWrangler you can also open extremely large files; it’s only limited by the RAM on your computer and OS X limitation to files.

If you need more advanced features like FTP and SFTP open and save, AppleScript, Mac OS X Unix scripting suppor, sleep mode, auto-save and more you can upgrade to BBEdit.

textwrangler

Pros

  • Plugin support and macros
  • Built in FTP and Secure FTP
  • SSH support for remote file editing
  • Ability to compare two documents line-by-line
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Auto indentation
  • Auto completion
  • Code folding
  • Text folding
  • Compiler integration (via plugin)
  • Spell checker
  • Large file support (limited by computer memory)
  • Multiple instances

Cons

  • No collaborative editing
  • No HTTP or WebDav support for remote file editing
  • Doesn’t work on Tiger on the Power Macintosh G4 (Quicksilver) series

3. jEdit

jEdit, a program for Windows, Mac OS X, OS/2, Linux, BSD, Unix and VMS, is said to be for mature programmers only. Written in Java, it is open source and supports hundreds of plugins and macros. The main window can be split horizontally or vertically and also comes with "auto indent, and syntax highlighting for more than 130 languages." There are many customization options for making everything from the dock to the status bar to the toolbar look and feel exactly the way you want. You can even "copy and paste with an unlimited number of clipboards."

Programming languages supported include: ActionScript, ColdFusion, LOTOS, Ruby, Python and COBOL. All of jEdit’s features cannot possibly fit into this paragraph, but you can view them all here.

jedit

Pros

  • Powerful search engine for regular expressions
  • Syntax highlighting with customization options
  • Auto-indentation
  • Auto completion
  • Code folding
  • Text folding
  • Compiler integration (via plugin)
  • Plugin support and macros
  • Tabbed editing interface
  • Integrated FTP browser
  • Spell checker (via plugin)
  • FTP support (via plugin)
  • HTTP and WebDav (via plugin) support for remote file editing
  • Multiple instances

Cons

  • Heavyweight and often slow on startup
  • In

    Cons

    istent spell checker

  • Can be buggy on the Mac
  • No collaborative editing
  • No large file support
  • No SSH support for remote file editing

4. Crimson Editor

Crimson was written in C, is open source and is known as a professional source code editor for Windows only. It is also a suitable replacement for Notepad and supports programming in 60+ languages like Maple, LotusScript, C/C++, MySQL, Ruby, Perl and JScript. Currently it only supports the English language. Unfortunately, the last release of Crimson was in 2008, but it has been replaced by Emeral Editor.

As you can see from the image below, it resembles Notepad++ from the toolbar to the tabbed editing. It also supports plugins, which are called "tools," and macros. There is even a built-in FTP client and you have the ability to manage groups of related files and save them as projects.

crimson editor

Pros

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Auto indentation
  • Compiler integration
  • Ability to add bookmarks
  • FTP support
  • Instant/live spell checker
  • Macros
  • Multiple instances

Cons

  • No auto completion
  • No code folding
  • No text folding
  • No collaborative editing
  • No large file support
  • No HTTP, SSH or WebDav support for remote file editing

5. Araneae

Araneae is an editor for Web professionals that runs on Windows only. You can download extensions to use with it and it includes syntax highlighting, drag and drop support, tabbed editing and the ability to insert customizable quick clips. "Araneae includes several extensions and localizations right out of the proverbial box—no extra downloading required! This includes HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML, JavaScript, PHP and Ruby files, as well as English, French, Greek, Spanish, and Estonian localizations!" All toolbars are viewable by default and can be rearranged to suit your preference.

Araneae

Pros

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Drag and drop support
  • Tabbed editing interface
  • Quick clips
  • Search and replace
  • Multiple instances

Cons

  • No plugins or macros

6. EditPad Lite

EditPad Lite is another Windows-only, general-purpose text editor and is written in 10 different languages. It was built with Delphi and is small, compact and free for non-commercial use only. So, if you will be getting paid for the work that you do with it, then you’ll need to purchase EditPadPro. Features are limited, but it does have tabbed editing, can remain running in the system tray, supports auto indenting and can be configured to suit your own taste and eyesight.

EditPad Lite also resembles Notepad with the exception of the formatting toolbar and tabs.

EditPad Lite

Pros

  • Tabbed editing interface
  • Auto indentation
  • Unlimited undo and redo even after saving a file (as long as it remains open)
  • Large file support
  • FTP support
  • Multiple instances

Cons

  • No syntax highlighting
  • No auto completion
  • No code folding
  • No text folding
  • No compiler integration
  • No macros
  • No collaborative editing
  • Spell checker not included in free version
  • No HTTP, SSH or WebDav support for remote file editing

7. ATPad

ATPad is not much different than most of the others mentioned above: it’s another rendition of Notepad with a few upgrades. Besides English, you can get ATPad in 11 other languages. You get tabbed editing, customization options, line numbering, word wrapping, bookmarks (so that you don’t lose your place when returning), customizable snippets, sending via email and more. Since ATPad doesn’t require installation, you can open it from virtually any kind of drive and it doesn’t leave any traces behind. To remove it simply delete the ATPad directory.

ATPad

Pros

  • Allows tiling and cascading of windows
  • Tabbed editing interface
  • Line numbering
  • Text snippets
  • Can send documents via email
  • No installation required
  • Ability to add bookmarks
  • Unlimited find/replaces and undo/redo

Cons

  • Does not come with spell checker

8. RJ TextEd

RJ TextEd is for Windows only and supports 18 different languages and 20 programming languages. It was built on CodeGear Delphi and is not open source. There is both a PC and portable version for download along with a handful of plugins and tools that you can download separately. Unlike most of the clean cut programs mentioned above, RJ TextEd has toolbars, panes and tabs galore. You can also create projects and macros and customize your work environment.

RJ TextEd

Pros

  • Has a portable version
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Spell checker
  • Auto indentation
  • Auto completion
  • Code folding
  • Text folding
  • Compiler integration
  • Macros
  • FTP and Secure FTP support
  • SSH support for remote file editing
  • Multiple instances

Cons

  • No collaborative editing
  • No large file support
  • No HTTP or WebDav support for remote file editing

9. Komodo Edit

Komodo Edit is a fast open source program that can be used on Windows, Max OS X and Linux. It supports the following programming languages: PHP, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Perl, Tcl, XML, HTML 5 and CSS 3. It also comes equipped with "customizable syntax coloring, folding, background syntax checking, and excellent auto-complete and calltips (called ‘code intelligence’)." Their pages and pages of extensions are equivalent to Firefox’s and their "tricked out" editor is one of the most advanced featured on this list. Along with all that you get remote file editing, a toolbox with shell command integration, macros, snippets and the list goes on. For more advanced features you can purchase Komodo IDE for Teams.

RJ TextEd

Pros

  • Extension support and macros
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Auto indentation
  • Auto completion
  • Code folding
  • Text folding
  • Code snippets

Cons

  • Spell checker not included
  • No compiler integration
  • No collaborative editing
  • No large file support
  • No multiple instances
  • For more advanced features you’ll need to upgrade for a hefty fee of $295 (without support and upgrades) or $382 (with support and upgrades)

10. KompoZer

Powered by Mozilla, "KompoZer is a complete Web Authoring System that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing capabilities found in Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe DreamWeaver and other high end programs." This easy to use program, for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, is geared toward non-technical users who don’t know much about HTML or web coding. It’s available in 21 different languages, has integrated file management via FTP, tabbed editing, color picker and support for forms, tables and templates.

As you can see from the screenshot below, it’s meant to be more like DreamWeaver as opposed to Notepad (hence the catering to non-technical users).

KompoZer

Pros

  • Site manager and file tree
  • WYSIWYG editing
  • Has a portable version
  • FTP support
  • Spell checker
  • Supports templates
  • Page preview
  • Comparable to Adobe DreamWeaver and Microsoft FrontPage

Cons

  • No WebDAV support for remote file editing
  • No shared editing support
  • Does not support server-side scripting

11. TouchQode (Bonus)

As an added bonus we have TouchQode, which is an editor just for smartphones. It’s currently only available for Android, but you can subscribe to be notified about the iPhone release. For a smartphone editor, it has some great features like syntax highlighting, the ability to run (simple) scripts, an integrated FTP client, file syncing and more. TouchQode really gives the the ability to code anywhere you go!

TouchQode

Pros

  • Android app
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Code suggestions
  • Incremental search
  • File synchronization

Cons

  • No iPhone app (but coming soon)

Author:

Charnita is an Internet Marketing student at Full Sail University. She is also a part-time blogger. In her spare time she enjoys trying out new apps for the Web, PC, Mac and iPhone. You can find her latest blog posts at SocialWebTools.info.

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