UPDATE (2014-09-13): I’ve been using Sublime Text since mid-2013. It’s so awesome.
Apologies for the pithy title, but it’s so easy to use Star Wars allusions with jEdit.
I discovered jEdit back in 2003, while working in my first Information Architect role back in OnX (now called Momentum). It was surprisingly fully functional, even back then.
Prior to that I had been using either Dreamweaver or Homesite (I still miss Homesite). Two features stood out for me:
- Tag completion that made sense: Typing </ would automatically close the previous open tag. I had always found the “immediate” auto completion of tags very obnoxious.1
- Highlighting of the end tag in the gutter and on screen: I have still yet to find any text editor that has as clear of a highlighting system as jEdit.
- True Cross-platform GUI: I know that MacVim and Aquamacs exists, but jEdit was the first text editor that made sense. It was also one of my first introductions to FOSS software.
The jEdit project started to stagnate after the 4.2 milestone release. Slava Pestov retired from the project to pursue his studies and work on his Factor programming language project and around 2008. I felt that this was a severe blow to the project and it languished. One could also argue tht at 4.2, the editor basically had it all, but there were several developments on the Mac OS X editor front (namely Textmate) that made me envious. There were also frustrating changes to Java that lead to several regressions in jEdit code.
This started was a very long and wayward search for the next editor. I’ve tried the big three on Mac: MacVim, BBedit, and Textmate. They all have their strengths and shortcomings.
Given that I worked almost exclusively in HTML and CSS at the time, I also ran multiple versions of Dreamweaver. It became oh so much more useful after it adopted the same convention as jEdit for closing tags. I tried Vim, but I couldn’t get used to the interface. Textmate’s per character undo drove me insane, but I loved the bundles. Espresso worked well, but struggled with anything that wasn HTML/CSS. I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with BBedit. For some reason, it never felt that modern to me (although the latest version basically addresses many of my issues).
I’m glad that the community of developers have picked up jEdit development again and I am eagerly awaiting the final 5.0 release which is shaping up to be quite great. Having spent the past few days setting up my jEdit again, I’m reminded why I enjoy using it so much. Just feels right for some reason.
Yes, it’s Java app. It also doesn’t feel like a first class citizen on OS X (doubtful that it would feel like that on any platform given it’s Swing roots). It’s also missing some niceties from more modern editors like Live HTML Preview.
If jEdit were not available, I’d have no issues with BBedit. It’s a phenomenal program, and I can see why it has been around for 20 years.
- In fact, the only editors that I have ever found that used this convention was Geany, Espresso and Dreamweaver. Aptana and BBedit have their own shortcuts for this, but I always found it more natural to just to attempt to close the tag. ↩