World War III is inevitable if you ask a group of people what the best code editor is. The EMACS people look with disdain on the VIM users. They both smirk about the various fancy, graphical tools, suggesting they look like refugees from Mario Cart. And then there are buckets of alternatives, some free and open-source, others proprietary and costly.
That said, here are my picks for highly useful web and program editors. Most are free. All do code coloring (syntax highlighting), tag completion, while some do lots more.
Coda, by Panic
This is my favorite and I have been using it for a number of years. It includes code previewing, code publishing to your site and lots more. Unfortunately, it’s not free ($99 license).
Panic’s software is excellent and should be seriously considered as your skills (and bank account) grow.
bbEdit, by BareBones
bbEdit is a very-well-regarded web editor and has many of the same features as coda. Its base configuration is free and is fully functional (not crippleware). Paying the $49 license fee unlocks a series of additional features (see comparison chart here), but these are not necessary for someone just starting out.
The free version is my starting recommendation.
Visual Studio Code
Microsoft developed this rather striking looking and powerful code editor. It is free and open source thanks to Microsoft’s about face on open source a few years ago. This package runs on Windows, Mac and linux and includes a raft of features out of the box and through a well-developed plugin system.
This is feature-rich and complex. Maybe it is not for a first-time developer?
Wikipedia says, “Atom is a free and open-source text and source code editor for macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows with support for plug-ins written in Node.js, and embedded Git Control, developed by GitHub.”
This is a really cool looking, completely free and open source code editor that seems to come with an ever-growing set of features and add-ons. It is really worth considering as your primary editor. Maybe check out the first chapter of their docs to see if their philosophy appeals to you.
Once you edit your code, you have to get it to your web server. If this is content for a CMS, i.e., WordPress or Drupal, then perhaps cut and paste into the CMS’s own add content form will suffice. On the other hand, if you are coding your own web files, whether html or php or css, you will probably need some way to load these directly to the web server. This is where one of the file transfer clients comes in. All of these handle SFTP (which is the old FTP – file transfer protocol, running over SSH — secure shell) which is the only way to do transfers in these days of automated breakins.
Transmit, by Panic
An excellent file transfer program by Panic, makers of Coda (see above). Cost: $45, so not recommended to starting developers.
This is a very complete file transfer program that knows about the major cloud storage systems and can integrate with your code editor for relatively seamless publishing your edited files.
Wikipedia says about Git: “Git (/ɡɪt/) is a version control system for tracking changes in computer files and coordinating work on those files among multiple people. It is primarily used for source code management in software development, but it can be used to keep track of changes in any set of files. As a distributed revision control system it is aimed at speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows….”
Git is used extensively in large, distributed development projects. While not of too much use to a single developer working on relatively small CMS projects, it (and other version control systems) are talked about frequently, so developers need to know about it.