Text Editor

Table of Contents

Inputting text commands is the most fundamental way to use a computer. We can communicate with the computer by giving it text commands such as entering search queries, using keyboard shortcuts, or executing commands on the command line. Compared to other human-computer interfaces such as click, voice, and touch, text input is the most specific and versatile. Also, computers usually output text as a result of computations. However, text interfaces are not intuitive for humans and require learning to use them effectively. To input text in an efficient and stress-free way, typing ergonomics is essential. You can read more about ergonomic keyboards and how to practice touch typing in the Ergonomic Workstation page.

We can use text files to save inputs and output on a computer. The text files are the Swiss army knives of computer science, and we can use them to store software code, data, and documentation for other humans. Therefore, we should learn how to manipulate text effectively. The primary tool for text editing is a text editor. Modern text editors combine useful features such as view to file system, color-coding for formal languages, integrated terminal, and version control tools. We can also add new capabilities to text editors with extensions. For example, extensions can modify the editor’s outlook, change its behavior or add syntax highlighting to new languages.

The two most popular open-source text editors are Visual Studio Code and Atom. I recommend installing and trying both and choosing which one works better for a particular task. Visual Studio Code (VSCode) is a text editor from Microsoft. I recommend installing the vscode-icons extension to improve the icons for files and directories and the Dark++ Regular extension for its theme and support for Fira Code font, and Git Graph for visualizing version control history. We can also install the Atom Keymap extension to use the same keyboard shortcuts as Atom. Atom is a text editor from GitHub. I recommend installing the file-icons and firacode extensions for the same reasons as for VSCode.

Text editors use a monospace font to display text. In monospaced fonts, every character has the same width, making structured text easier for humans to read. I recommend using a monospace font called Fira Code. It is easy to read and uses ligatures to make multicharacter symbols easier for the human brain to parse.