On walkabout in life and technology

Back to TextMate 2

I spent the latter half of 2012 trying out new programmer’s editors, getting them set up the way I like and getting productive in them. This was no fly-by-night few-hour test, it was full-monty Rails development work for months. Lots of shell scripts, file manipulations, formats, different programming languages, different platforms, all my programming activities.

I tried BBEdit for programming, and it is good. BBEdit remains my text editing and file manipulation tool of choice and I suspect it always will be. It’s running all the time for me to take notes, scratch around, manipulate data or experiment. But the language grammars, language-in-language syntax highlighting and snippets were not as good as TextMate 1’s for programming. I installed a bunch of tools, wrote a few of my own scripts, but gave up.

I tried and purchased Coda 2, and it is lovely. The integration, editor and product is just beautiful. In my opinion, it is the best IDE-like tool for static HTML5/CSS3 sites, which I occasionally work on. But it does not handle the scripting and Rails workload.

I tried, purchased, configured and used Sublime Text 2 as my sole programming editor for the longest time. I thought this would be it. I proudly wrote about my setup. All the power of bundles and syntax highlighting in a massively extensible tool. I love the multiple themes and the multi-platform use.

But the more I used it, the more I got annoyed with it. Sublime Text 2’s greatest strength, multi-platform, is also, in my opinion, its greatest weakness. As a Mac user who is supremely comfortable with “the Mac way” of doing things, Sublime just looked and felt wrong, out of place on my computer. The centered lookups, non-standard search box, odd default keys and text configuration files are just not right for a graphical programmer’s editor on the Mac.

In the mean time, the alpha of TextMate 2, to my big and pleasant surprise, got more and more reliable. Bugs got squashed, new features added, progress made. The bugs, stability and broken features that triggered my search for a new programmer’s editor were mostly fixed. And updates started flowing in again. It’s still not even beta, or fully featured, or polished. Then again, when I started with TextMate 1, it was in the same state. And it just kept on getting better.

In December, I found that I was using mate . more often than subl -n . to open the Rails folder. I started using rmate to edit files on the Linux servers over ssh. I got used to the new quirks of TextMate 2 very quickly (e.g. no file/new from the file browser, you have to do new/tab instead - what?), and found the old keys and expansions were still to my liking, and better than the other editors’ ones. And the new grammars, better undo and ‘smarts’ are delightful. The next thing I know, I’m using it as my primary editor for Rails and scripts again.

I do miss the multiple themes and multiple panes from Sublime Text 2 (coming in TM2). And I remain a Sublime Text 2 user on all non-Mac platforms, ST2 is still the best out there. I expect to continue to enhance that setup over the next few months.

It may not be cool, it may not be popular, for all I know I’m the only one, but I’m back, all-in, programming using TextMate 2 as my primary programmer’s editor.

And to confirm it to myself, today I reset all my code file associations back to “Open With TextMate…”.

See also My TextMate 2 Setup and TextMate 2 Basics.

Follow the author as @hiltmon on Twitter or @hiltmon on App.Net.