Why A Standalone Code Editor Is Better Than A Premium IDE?

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Programmers and developers use different kinds of software to build applications and utilities. When it comes to writing code, some prefer proprietary solutions offering bulky integrated development environments, while others opt for simple standalone code editors. I've used both of them for different programming languages and after much consideration decided to go with the latter option. There are several advantages of using a standalone code editor that every serious developer would heartily acknowledge. If you're currently using an IDE, you may find it bit odd working with a simple code editor while making the transition. But, with passage of time, you'll find it more convenient to crunch your favorite code in one of the standalone editors. Let's discuss the pros and cons of both development software and see how the latter excels over its bulky cousin.

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Integrated development environments are bulky consuming massive amount of your disk space. Some proprietary IDE software file size ranges in Gigabytes. If a developer is purchasing such IDE application online and is on a slow connection, it can be very painful to complete the entire download and installation process. Since these development environments are bulky with tons of fancy features, they're generally sluggish on an average desktop computer.

On the other hand, a standalone editor is not only small in size, but is also very light on consuming system resources. Their start up time is also considerably less when compared to a typical IDE. This is a huge advantage especially if you're using slow internet connection as well as an old desktop computer.

Affordable For Everyone

Generally, standalone code editors are either free or comes with an affordable price tag. Comparatively, a commercial integrated development environment price tag makes it unaffordable for large number of budding developers.

Although there are large number of free integrated development environments, but they lack certain prime features available only in commercial solutions. Premium standalone editor's low price tag makes it accessible to large number of programmers. Even the free alternatives come with lots of features good enough for an average developer. If you're a Mac user, Coda and TextMate are the two popular choices and if you're on Windows platform, you can try out Sublime Text or Brackets Sprint.

Doesn't Sticks with Proprietary Coding Rules

If you're coding with Visual Studio, you may find certain proprietary coding semantics and rules that cannot be overridden while writing the code. This binds you with these conventions leaving little scope of freely changing the code as per your exact requirements.

But, standalone code editors are generally independent of such restrictions and mostly adhere to standard coding principles for all the supported languages. This gives you enough flexibility to code the way to want without worrying for any kind of restriction. Since these lightweight editors are free of proprietary coding standards, programmers can import and can easily change such kind of code to comply with standard coding principles.

Supports Large Number of Languages

Almost every standalone code editor comes with support of dozens of programming language syntax highlighting and auto-completion. This makes them all-in-one solution for different languages and you never need to open different types of editors for different languages.

While working in these lightweight editors, switching to a different language mode doesn't require complex setting updates. Almost all editors recognize the language automatically through the file extension and provide relevant syntax highlighting and other associated features. This convenience makes them a preferred choice for developers who frequently work with 2 or 3 different programming languages at the same time.

Less Confusing

Almost every integrated development environment contains large number of options and features that makes them quite confusing making the learning curve very steep. A lot of time is wasted in learning the details of an IDE that can be utilized in other important things. These overwhelming features often results in frustration and less productivity while using an IDE.

On the other hand, a standalone editor has limited options and features that help you get started quickly without any confusion. Whatever options are available in these editors are generally standard and thus one can grab their functioning and usage without any ambiguity.

Can Be Easily Extended

Almost every standalone editor can be easily extended through large number of plugins or extensions that makes them more user-friendly and productive. For example, I use Brackets Sprint as my default coding editor and use several good plugins to make it more feature-packed and useful.

Although several IDE applications also come with extension facility but configuring these extensions can be cumbersome. The editors I've mentioned above supports plugins and even a new user can easily extend their functionality without any problem. And almost every such plugin is free of cost, except the primary editing software you've purchased in the beginning. Comparatively, premium IDE applications often come up with expensive plugins that have a good price tag.

Makes You a Real Coding Ninja

One huge advantage that nobody can ignore is the fact that standalone editors make you work for everything from scratch. In simple words, unlike integrated development environments where a project is built (linking, compiling, execution) with a click of a button, these editors lets you perform each step manually making you more comfortable with almost every step of project building.

Since you deal with every coded file independently, you take care of every aspect related to revisions, linking with other files, dependencies & imports and other similar constraints. This inadvertently polishes you coding skills and gives you complete control over the language you're using on a daily basis.


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