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On Text Editors — Part 4

Jesse Atkinson

This is the fourth entry in a six-part series on my history of text editors.

The Sublime Text Phase

After a month of interviewing and job hunting, I ended up at TuneIn. This meant moving from Detroit to the Bay area. I started off in VIM, but was eventually convinced by a friend to try Sublime Text again. The beta for 3 had just come out and was pretty stable. So, I checked it out. I was surprised by how much I liked it. After a day of using it, I didn't see any reason not to keep using it. So I did. Once again, I poured myself into the app learning everything I could about it. In fact, I even wrote a starter guide for it that I would give to friends who code or new employees who were unfamiliar with Sublime Text.

Sublime Text (particularly Sublime Text 3 beta) felt like the culmination of years-long frustration at the lack of updates to TextMate and the lack of sensible choices for devs who didn't want to use a fully-fledged IDE. I'd used Sublime Text on and off, but I was never able to use it full-time, day-in-day-out due to how my previous job was.

Sublime Text is, as of this writing, still probably the most versatile and potentially best text editor out there. It's incredibly customizable. It's cross-platform. It's lightning fast. And, it's... ugly.

It's that final point — an intangible one — that most devs seem not to care about. You can customize the hell out of Sublime Text's look and feel with themes. No matter how much I fiddled with it, it felt like putting lipstick on a pig. A very abandoned pig, I might add.

Still, Sublime Text was the best tool for the job. It worked really, really well. It was just not very polished. Then, along came the OS X Yosemite beta.

On Text Editors — Part 3

Jesse Atkinson

This is the third entry in a six-part series on my history of text editors.

The VIM Phase

I stayed at Team Detroit as long as I could. The problem was Ford thought we were all too expensive (remember that salary I got?). They decided to outsource all of their web development to Buenos Aires, Argentina. And this is when I learned a super-valuable lesson — make your boss like you.

My boss and I got along great. He pulled me aside one day and told me that I was going to be laid off soon. We all were. He didn't know when exactly, but I probably had three months at best. One of my favorite project managers from MRM was working at ePrize (now known as Hello World). I didn't really want to leave Team Detroit, but I had friends at ePrize and I knew I was getting laid off soon and didn't feel like job hunting, so I applied and got the gig.

One of the things that made me incredibly happy about the new job was this was the first job where I got a MacBook Pro. Previously, I was stuck on Windows machines: XP at MRM and 7 at TDI. Naturally, I was excited to get back to using my code editor of choice, Coda, rather than being forced to use Eclipse. In my absence of being able to code on a Mac for my day job, TextMate 2 alpha had been released into the wild. However, the new kid on the block that everyone was telling me to use was Sublime Text 2.

Excited, I began this new gig using Sublime Text 2. I read every article on all the tips and tricks I could find. The problem came when I realized ePrize had an incredibly asinine way of managing their codebase. Their codebase was remote and only remote. There was no pushing and pulling from your computer to a remote server. You had to connect to the remote server and work directly on it. Yes, I'm dead serious. Yes, I asked a lot of "Why is this this way?", but received no satisfactory answers. It was what it was. Most of my co-workers used a system of mounting the server as a drive and editing the files using Coda or Sublime Text 2. The problem was anytime two of us had to work on the same branch, we'd end up overwriting each other's work. You see, when you mount a drive and open a file on it your computer downloads and caches that file. When you save, it uploads the change. Next time you open the file it doesn't re-download it. It simply opens up the local copy it has. This is a problem if two people edit the same file. They will never realize that the other person has modified it.

The only sure way to avoid this is to actually work on the server. The cleanest, easiest, and most hassle-free way to accomplish this was with VIM. I'd never used VIM except to write commit messages. I knew very little. Since I refused to follow this asinine and reckless workflow, my co-workers and boss insisted on using, I had to double-down on learning VIM. And boy did I ever. Again, I read everything I could about VIM. I learned that tool inside and out, backwards and forwards. I became an evangelist for VIM. Singing its praises and looking down my nose at other, lesser developers who had to have fancy things like a UI in their text editor. Man, did it ever feel good to be superior!

And I was superior in one way:I was the only developer who never accidentally overwrote his co-workers code. This sort of thing was rare, but it still happened every few weeks. Someone would inevitably overwrite another developer’s code. They never did learn (I think you can see why I didn't stay there long).

However, I was not superior in many other ways. In that VIM is not actually better than Coda or Sublime Text or TextMate or any other editor. It's just extremely different. After a year of working at ePrize, I quit. I hated the job and decided to leave even without another job lined up.

On Text Editors — Part 2

Jesse Atkinson

This is the second entry in a six-part series on my history of text editors.

The Eclipse and Aptana Phase

After a year at a crappy job with terrible pay cutting my teeth in web development, I got wise and applied at MRM. MRM is the digital agency for McCann-Erickson. I had a friend-of-a-friend who worked there and applied. I couldn't even fathom working at a place that prestigious. I got the gig and quickly learned how big, powerful ad agencies worked (mostly terribly when it comes to web dev). It quickly became clear that Coda was completely ill-suited for the job. MRM was the digital agency of record for General Motors. Their site's server-side language was all Java and our templating was all in JavaServer Pages (JSP). So naturally, I had to move to Eclipse. There was just simply no way around it. Everyone had to use it. I flipped between Eclipse and Aptana (a more front-end-focused fork of Eclipse) for those five months I worked there.

Five months may sound like a short time, but it was the richest learning experience I've ever had. Those five months working there are very vivid in my memory because I learned a ton. Namely, I learned that I hated having to work in Eclipse and couldn't wait to get back to Coda.

I got a call from a recruiter for a rival company four months in. I wasn't looking to leave, but I knew I was underpaid. I didn't mind too much because I enjoyed my job and I was learning. Also, it was the first job that made me feel like a professional. Still, my salary wouldn't exactly cut it for too long. So I took the interview, got the job, and asked for 80% more money than I was making at MRM — a salary I thought was surely absurd. No way would they say "yes" to that. They said "yes" without blinking. So off to Team Detroit I went.

Team Detroit (TDI) was Ford's digital agency of record (now you can see why MRM and TDI were rivals). Turns out, Ford's website had a very similar set up as GM's, and I was still stuck in Eclipse.

On Text Editors — Part 1

Jesse Atkinson

This is the first entry in a six-part series on my history of text editors.

Introduction

I've been a web developer for roughly nine years now. Four years as a student and five years as my career. In that time I've tried nearly every popular text editor and IDE out there. This is a detailed history of my journey and how I ended up using TextMate 2 as my text editor of choice. This article will not tell you to use TextMate 2. It will tell you my personal experience and journey. I ended up deciding that TextMate 2 is currently (as of December 15, 2014) the best text editor for me. You may end up choosing differently. I hope that this article helps expose you to some IDEs or text editors you haven't used (or at least haven't used in a while) and makes you curious about what's out there.

The Dreamweaver Phase

When I first started out in 2006, the choice was simple — if you wanted to make websites you used an integrated development environment (IDE for short) and the IDE you chose was Dreamweaver. Whatever your opinion of Dreamweaver may be today, in 2006, it was easily the best. Dreamweaver made starting projects incredibly easy and it provided you with a lot of nice boilerplate templates. To a new web developer, this was a dream come true. The other tools available to web developers (specifically front-end devs) were barbaric.

So Dreamweaver it was.

The Coda Phase

That is until Coda came along. In late 2009, I graduated from college with a computer science degree and in early 2010, I got my first professional job as a web developer. My peers and the internet seemed to agree that Dreamweaver was only for beginners (hint: it's not) and that I should move to a "better" code editor. The two options I heard over and over were Coda and TextMate. I downloaded the demos for both. Coda was gorgeous, elegant, incredibly well designed, and had everything I needed built right into it. TextMate was... a text editor. I remember staring blankly at TextMate wondering why anyone in their right mind would choose to use TextMate over Coda. I just didn't get it.

Coda suited me very well for that job. I was one of two web developers at the company. We had no version control. We updated the website via FTP. The server-side language was PHP, which Coda was built to work with very well. All was going swimmingly. Why would I ever leave? I still maintain that if you're doing websites as a freelancer or at a small agency for clients and your back-end is PHP, Coda is the best tool for the job.

My Favorite Albums of 2014

Jesse Atkinson

I'll keep this short and sweet this year. I thought 2014 was an incredibly weak year for music as a whole, however I thought the albums that were strong in 2014 were really strong. This wasn't a great year for hip-hop. Nothing came out that really blew me away. PRhyme isn't mentioned because I simply didn't listen to it enough. D'Angelo's "Black Messiah" is too new for me to have an accurate opinion of it (as of this writing I've listened to it twice and it's been out for three days). I'll ammend the list later once I have a better sense of it.

Bottomline: I listened to a lot of music this year and flat out didn't like most of it. These are the few albums I liked and some I loved.

  1. "The Voyager" by Jenny Lewis
  2. "1989" by Taylor Swift
  3. "Morning Phase" by Beck
  4. "Brill Bruisers" by The New Pornographers
  5. "BEYONCÉ (Platinum Edition)" by Beyoncé*
  6. "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" by Against Me!
  7. "Built on Glass" by Chet Faker
  8. "They Want My Soul" by Spoon
  9. "Lost in the Dream" by The War on Drugs
  10. "Ultraviolence" by Lana Del Rey
  11. "Ryan Adams" by Ryan Adams
  12. "Run the Jewels 2" by Run the Jewels
  13. "Neon Icon" by Riff Raff
  14. "Once More 'Round The Sun" by Mastodon
  15. "Syro" by Aphex Twin

*Yes I know this album came out late 2013 originally, but I didn't give it a listen until the new "Platinum Edition" came out in November of 2014. So I am cheating and putting it on this list since it was a 2014 album to me.