Why I love Gedit

September 17, 2008

I have tried a few IDEs for Linux and Windows. Most proved to be large, memory consuming, and bloated with features a simple developer like me doesn’t really want or need. Then I wanted to try newer things then the things I got IDEs to do, so I have to go back again and look for another large, useless, bloated piece of software. While I was gazing upon some ruby-on-rails screencasts, I noticed their development environment of choice was a piece of software called TextMate on Mac OSX. I really liked the looks of it. It was simple, yet had enough features and ease of use to satisfy a user like me. While I do not own a mac yet, I would fork over the $60 for textmate because it looked so great and useful. They almost look at their project as an open source program with their site and openness to customers desires. Then it hit me… why is there not an IDE like TextMate for Linux? I mean it being Linux I would not put the money in for one, because while I do not code much, I have this little feeling inside of me that feels really perverted for using closed source software. So after so much pondering, the answer is in a little program included with most Gnome based Linux distributions. It’s called Gedit, sound familiar now? I have just installed Ubuntu on my machine again, and it not having Internet, I tried to stick with the software on my DVD, because downloading an entire IDE over a thumb drive unaware of its dependencies is nothing but a slap in the face. (Of course, I couldn’t live without my MP4 music on my Internet-less Ubuntu PC. I have ubuntu in a virtual machine on my moms networked computer. Just find a package in Synaptic, click the install icon beside it, then go to File > Generate Package Download Script. After that find the exported file and run it and get all your packages! Sorry, I found this out the other day and wanted to share with my pals without Internet) So I am trying to practice some C++ from school, and I put it into Gedit, and nifty enough, it’s nice and color coded once I saved! So being a tweaker, I go to the preferences, and play with some stuff. How about a new theme? There are a couple of other options to make Gedit more like a huge IDE, the best way to tell is to play with them yourself and see what you like and hate. But the real power of Gedit is it’s plugin architecture. So that being the powerful part, I have enabled them all and played with a few, and will tell you about my favourites!

1. External tools – This is the most worthy plugin because you can add scripts to it that do different things. I made one that runs a ruby script I am typing with a press of a key, and it’s simple and easy to find out and has the power of Linux to do anything you can in the shell at the bottom of your screen. If you are building a library and wish to test it without working on the main file of a program, you’re going to need to make a shell script to get that all together, which is too technical for right now. Some cool ones built in are: build, open terminal here, remove trailing spaces, and run command (Ok then…). Those are nice, but the power of it is that you can make a killer tool. How to find them: in the tools menu once you enable the external tools plugin

2. File browser pane –  This is something you likely see in a file manager, the pane on the side that has the shortcuts you can go to, or where you are currently browsing. This is nice because if you are building a web site, you might need to get files from multiple directories, which is a pain to go back and forth between a text editor and a file browser. This shows a tree list on the file system on the right side so you can browse about and open files in tabs, another great feature built into Gedit! TextMate has this feature, gedit doesn’t implement it as cool as TextMate can, but nobody builds GTK+ programs like that anyways 😛

3. Snippets – This plugin is sort of poorly implemented (more along the lines of incomplete), but it is not a default plugin to begin with. It automatically enters parts of code when you begin to type them, it has the ability to do it for 30-45 some languages, but the snippets are not all there for all the languages, and I haven’t looked into downloading them (you can though, it has an import button). I have a hard time describing this feature because I don’t do major coding yet, and it hasn’t helped me with hello world!

4. Spell check – This is a GREAT feature! Why? Because we are all so used to butchering the English language! We often overlook spell checking HTML because it becomes tedious after so many lines and all the tags being spelled weird anyways. I don’t recommend this for anything that doesn’t show the end user of something any text, because if you spell check your C++, your program just broke. But still, after all we suck at spelling, and Gedit can be used to make a book realistically!

5. Tag list – Another plugin I don’t use much, because I am not too lazy to not type a tag. It is mostly for HTML/XML tags and special characters. If I were to use this, it would be to insert special characters. I added it to the list because someone could and probably does find it useful. If I have my side pane open to begin with, it’s because I am using the file browser plugin!

So is Gedit sounding great now or what? Gedit can be the notepad of your life, or with a couple option changes it can be the textmate of your life. If you’re building a huge program, I wouldn’t use free software, or cheap software for that matter, but if you do, set the auto save to 1 minute! Well what could make Gedit better? How about a blog editing plugin. I mean, what do you think I just wrote this whole post in anyways?

Gedit can be your notepad!


Gedit can be your textmate!

Gedit can be your textmate!