When you first launch yourself into the world of coding, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options available for even the most beginning steps. Among the first decisions you’ll make is choosing the right text editor as it can set the tone for your coding experience. A text editor that is too simple may be great for beginners to learn the basics, but it will hinder students as they progress into more complex codes, diversifying their languages, and learning how to utilize plug-ins.
On the other hand, too complex a text editor too soon in the learning process can overwhelm students and discourage them from being able to absorb the amount of information thrown at them. Balance is key when it comes to the choice of text editors, and the best place to start is with the basics. It makes sense to analyze the differences between one of the longest standing text editors, Notepad++, and one of the new rising stars, Atom.
Notepad++ was one of the first text editors to really “make it big.” Released in 2003, it surprised the world with its open-source base and user-friendly interface. Many people swear by Notepad++ today simply because it’s been a part of the industry for such a long time. Since it’s a no-cost, open-source software, there are plenty of free materials for beginning coders to reference, use, and learn from.
Notepad++ was ahead of the curve for a number of years, and was even listed as the “Best Developer Tool” by SourceForge two times over. However, as technology has developed, Notepad++ has seen some competition from new text editors and IDEs released in the market.
Atom is one of the newest text editors available on the market. Like Notepad++, Atom is free. However, the technological development of Atom allows for greater functionality, an improvement on tools already developed by Notepad++, and it has a “hackable” interface that allows for more plug-ins.
Atom is also open-source so coders can help improve the user experience. Although it is still rising in popularity and in a tight competition with Sublime, Atom is a high-performance text editor that is still simple enough as to not overwhelm beginners.
Notepad++ supports only Windows operating systems, which does limit its accessibility and the number of users. However, many new coders find Windows computers to be the most cost-effective option for starting, which means Notepad++’s lightweight, no cost and Windows-focused approach may be the perfect fit for students. Notepad++ is a simple text editor, lacking many of the plug-ins offered by many of the new IDEs, making it a pretty bare-bones program. It does, however, have the option to edit multiple files and lines at the same time and recognizes over 84 languages. Overall, Notepad++ is best suited for those in need of introductory steps into the coding world.
For a final overview, a side-by-side comparison may be needed to determine the value of each code editor. So let’s take a look at exactly what they have to offer in a more comprehensive list:
|Supports the basic languages with some customizability, but relatively few plug-ins||Extensive list of available plug-ins, supports many languages, direct connection to GitHub, hotkeys|
|Open-source and free||Open-source, customizable and free|
|Multi-line and multiple file editing||Multi-line/file editing, the interface allows users to open graphics directly in a file|
We can see how each program holds similar values, but it seems that Atom has a little bit of “oomph” that pushes it ahead of Notepad++ for more professional use. The customizability of Atom can overwhelm new coders, but it will eventually sustain them as they learn how to use the various abilities and plug-ins to streamline their experience and tailor it to the way their brain operates and their personal coding style.
Choosing the right text editor is a difficult call to make as a new programmer. Between mastering the basics and immersing yourself in the possibilities, you need to find a software you can learn thoroughly, so you can master the basics without getting frustrated over how to use the program itself.
Notepad++ and Atom are both amazing as beginning text editors with which students can start their learning process. Users may find Notepad++ to be the simplest software to use as they conquer the basics. However, in the long run, Atom may be the smarter option as the program is designed to host beginners, and be mastered by the pros. With its outstanding amount of plugins, elegant multi-line editing, and quick to the punch hotkeys, Atom is a great platform for growth.
By starting your journey with Atom — although it may take longer to learn than Notepad++— you are guaranteed software that will carry you to pro status with tutorials, new plug-ins from open-source developers, and GitHub applications. And if you already have dipped your toe into the programming pool, Atom offers many opportunities to help you jump right in.