Alternatives to Sublime Text

I know the P5 Getting Started guide says "You can use the code editor of your choice"; but given the wide range of free and Open Source editors available it was a little surprising to see Sublime Text (ST) used as the example editor. This isn't a criticism of ST: it's without doubt a fantastic editing environment and very widely used in web development; but it costs money and the linked page on Wikipedia misses a number of really good, free alternatives. So to redress the balance I thought I'd include a couple of options here:

  • Brackets This looks like a really good choice for beginners; and it's free. The interface is simpler than ST and the built-in live preview is a fantastic feature (though is limited to Chrome): save your JS file and the browser automatically reloads. Yes you can do that with ST and other editors; but in Brackets the button's there from the get-go.

  • Atom I haven't had a chance to try this out yet; but this could take ST's crown as the goto tool for web dev and again it's free and backed by Github...

  • Lime Text Editor So new you're going to have to compile it from source; so not one for the newbies. Only just heard about this but will be giving it try.


  • I use Brackets to do professional work on JS (and HTML, CSS and similar), and I am very happy. To be really efficient, you might need to install a number of extensions, though. I give a list of those I chose, but of course, some are not necessary for P5.js, or depend on the tools you use.

  • From the ST website: "There is currently no enforced time limit for the evaluation". It's essentially like the old "shareware" model; evaluate for as long as you like, but please purchase after a while.

  • That's a fair point; though from what I remember the shareware model usually gave you more limited functionality, or a time limit, rather than a whole application. Anyone using ST long-term really should pay up ;)

    Also for some - particularly beginners - I think Brackets might be a better fit. I'm still trying these alternatives out; but I really appreciate the preview option. It doesn't play nicely with the inspector in Chrome though, which is one drawback. At some point I'll update my post with some pros and cons.

  • edited August 2015

    thanks @blindfish this is a great point! I'm going to add mention of these options to the getting started page. I made the getting started page with sublime just because that was what I had and was using with a class at the time, but it would be nice if it were endorsing an open source tool. if you'd like to submit a pull request for this page using a different editor as an example I'd be happy to merge it in.

  • I haven't tried Atom, because Brackets works for me... :-)

    There is also the Light Table editor, in a similar range.

  • I'm using Atom. Not b/c I've particularly chosen it but b/c it got a super cool TypeScript plugin! :P

  • At work Atom has the edge for me: for what I need, plug-in support already seems better than Brackets. At home I use Brackets more, because for p5.js it's more than good enough and I haven't yet bothered finding an equivalent to the live preview in Atom...

    @lmccart: for newbies I'd be inclined to recommend Brackets. The live preview feature resolves x-domain issues which can be a major pain point when working in JS; and doesn't require any plug-ins. I'll try and find time to update the page some time soon.

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