It seems every few months I hear another diatribe about using Vim or Emacs and switching from TextMate. The usual reason for switching from TextMate is because version 2.0 hasn’t shown up yet. So what?
Watt Martin has been providing some interesting and unbiased thoughts on text editors lately with a couple of interesting posts. The first, Text Editor Intervention:
I love you all, but it’s time to stage a text editor intervention. Put down the mouse, back away from that download link, and take a deep breath.
First off: if you are a Mac user and compatibility with TextMate is an absolute must-have, let me ask you two questions. Is TextMate 1.5 still working for you? Can you keep living with its limitations? If you answered both those questions “yes,” our work is done here. Go in peace.
I use TextMate daily, it does everything I need. I don’t need to code faster or have a half-dozen split screens open. My aging mind can only process code so fast and having split screens open, is not going to help me. But that is just my preference. Many new editors have popped up on my radar recently like Sublime Text and Redcar, which refer to their TextMate support as Watt points out:
Those of us who cling tenaciously to TextMate do so because of its amazing bundle system; you really have to spend time digging into it to understand how powerful it is. BBEdit, Vim and Emacs all require you to learn a weird scripting language; TextMate lets you write in any language you can script a Unix shell with, from bash to Ruby.¹ The flip side of that, though, is that TextMate’s bundles are—with few exceptions—limited to passing standard input and environment variables to a shell script and getting standard output back. With BBEdit and the Ugly Unix Twins, you can attach scripts nearly everywhere, with deep access to the underlying editing engines.
The new editors popping up are attempting to be the next TextMate, to attract the users now running TextMate. It is a testament to TextMate, trying to imitate what works.
If your editor works fine for you and gets the job done, why do we feel pressured to move on to something else because it is under more active development? Actually, I regularly see new minor updates for TextMate. People were promised version 2.0 and because it hasn’t arrived they feel compelled to jump ship. This is probably the single silliest reason I have ever heard of for subjecting oneself to a steep learning curve to a new editor.
My opinion about text editors is ignore everyone and go with what works for you. I’ve tried MacVim, but wasn’t productive enough up-front for my taste and there was no pressing reason to switch. If I had to, I would probably commit to the effort of learning Vim once and for all.
Stop worrying about when TextMate 2.0 will be out and go write some code already.