A VIM User's Experiments With GUI Code Editors

When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Hands...

I've been a die hard VIM user since the days of co-founding the Kalamazoo Linux Users Group back in 1998. It's a clean command line editor with a simple user interface and once you've mastered the admittedly steep learning curve of its robust keyboard shortcuts, I haven't found any substitutes that measure up for raw horsepower coding.


Relatively recently there's been a lot of advancement around pairing code editors with debugging utilities which has started to leave editors like VIM behind. The ability to instantly set break points in React code and have that matched in real time with your browser is starting to make me want to lift my head out of my Ubuntu VM and see what all the cool kids are using these days.

Debugging in Visual Code Studio

Visual Studio Code Chrome debugging

If you're like me and hail back to the old school days of awk, grep and sed, you might be cringing and the very thought of a mouse click as an integral part of your coding flow, but let's suspend our disbelief for a bit and just see what's out there. If I can get used to inserting raw HTML into JSX React code then you can try out a few GUI code editors with me.

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The Plan

I'm going to spend some time working with three GUI text editors over the next several weeks, I'll take a shot at posting my reactions as I go. Here's the editors I'm looking at...

Atom Code Editor Logo


Produced by GitHub, it's a free text editor built on top of the Electron UI framework, it's a code editor with a growing fan base and a large ecosystem of plugins and extensions. Atom Code Editor Screen Shot
Visual Studio Code Editor Logo


This editor was released in 2015 so its userbase is still relatively new, but it's growing fast judging by the number of blog posts I've seen out there. I have a deep aversion to using anything built by Microsoft after my early experiences with them in the Linux community, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. Visual Studio Code Editor Screen Shot


It seems like Sublime Text is the 800lb gorilla in the code editor space these days. It has a huge market share, a thriving community, etc etc etc. Everyone around the office seems to be using it so it's on my list. We shall see... Sublime Text Code Editor Screen Shot

More To Come

I'll split this up into a series as I start poking at this list. This blog post you're reading right now is being written inside Visual Studio Code for example.

Are there any others I should be adding to my list? Send me a tweet in the form below and let me know.

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To: @mattccrampton