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Stop Worrying About Your Text Editor. Just Stop.

I’m fine with a culture of debate in tech, but some debates are just stupid.
Tired sleepy young woman
Adobe Stock / denis_vermenko
Andrea Tallarita
Andrea Tallarita

I’m going to keep today’s blog short and sweet, partly because it’s a simple point to make, and partly because anything else would contradict the whole premise.

So here’s the thing – the tech scene is characterized by constant debate and internal disagreement, to a degree comparable to that of a professional sports league. At peak intensity, it sometimes feels like a real-life version of the pineapple pizza diatribes.

This is normal, good, and – barring those cases when people start behaving like total jerks – mostly healthy. Languages, frameworks, and tools in programming can be radically different from each other, and the way people learn about and understand these differences is by talking. (Ok, maybe sometimes yelling – but mostly talking.)

But one thing that leaves me supremely perplexed is when I see people get in arguments over which text editor is the best. All the more so when the programmers in question are not very experienced (and I work for a coding school, so I hang around with inexperienced programmers a lot).

That debate is just like… no.

On Productivity And Subtlety

The point of this blog isn’t to say that all text editors are the same and/or that it makes no difference at all which one you’re using. Duh. If you’re especially comfortable right-clicking on tabs to copy file paths, then yes, it matters that you should be on Notepad++. And if you’re setting up a team for a start-up, perhaps you’ll want to recommend to your devs a common text editor, just to make sure the code is not variable to the point where it becomes harder to maintain (although, of course, you could always just use a pretty-printer…).

Ultimately, however, none of these differences are really critical to productivity. Watch a video by Gennady Korotkevich – one of the best competitive programmers in the world – and you’ll see that he codes in Far Manager, which looks like something you’d see on the spaceship monitors of a movie made in the late 70s. If you are still a beginner (or relatively so), there are just so many other things you should focus on researching and understanding that will impact the way you write code much more than the text editor.

Also relevant for beginners – while it’s untrue that the differences between text editors don’t matter, it is true that at the level where they affect anything more than your personal comfort, those differences become rather subtle. Or in other words – if you are not an experienced programmer, and you find yourself hammering the keyboard in a heated disagreement over which text editor is the best, then sorry – but the odds are that you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

The Path Of Least Distraction

Wrapping up, I’m going to link a list of the top text editors out there if you’re really keen on taking this topic further – and just so you can’t say that I haven’t done anything in this blog other than my usual ranting & rambling – but really this is a choice that comes down more to personal taste than to professional standards.

The text editor you choose should simply be the one that you are most comfortable using, or the one that distracts you the least during work (which is more or less the same thing). Otherwise, don’t make a big deal of what text editor you or anyone likes to use. You have much more important things to worry about.

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