I had been looking for a great text editor for a while now — something with intuitive keyboard shortcuts and easy navigation among multiple documents. Gedit and Kate do not have the latter. Not for me. I want to be able to use
Ctrl+Tab. CLI text editors are out of question, since vim is completely beyond me, and Emacs and nano don’t have the shortcuts I’m used to.
Surfing across the web, I stumbled upon Light Table, and since then I believe in love at first sight.
Light Table is available for GNU/Linux and the two major proprietary platforms. It is libre/open source (under GPLv3) since 0.6.0.
Yes, well spotted. It hasn’t reached 1.0 yet (at the time of writing). This means it does lack a few features, but is quite usable. I’ve been using it on openSUSE 13.1 GNOME for about a week and haven’t noticed anything refusing to work, although it did crash twice.
The great thing about Light Table is that it lets you evaluate your programs in real-time, provided they are in Python, Clojure, HTML, CSS or JS. For example, you can see the changes in your CSS, rendered in your browser as you type. With Python, it checks whether everything is in place, like you’re importing the right modules, things like that.
Everything in Light Table is pretty intuitive. There’s no learning — only discovering. I particularly like the choice of a dark theme. It’s easy on the eyes when you’re working in low light.
Light Table is one of those few IDE’s that can be operated almost entirely from the keyboard, which is every developer’s dream.
A very handy feature is the Commands pane. It works sort of like Ubuntu’s HUD, in that you can type what you want to do (search-as-you-type), instead of rummaging through menus.
For example, if you fire up this Commands pane (using
Ctrl+Space) and type “syn”, the option for changing your syntax highlighting will appear, and you can hit
Enter. Next, you type “x” and the XML option appears. Simple as that. No need to touch the mouse.
The best part is that when you type, what characters you type does not matter as long as they are part of the command and in order. Typing “sntx” will also lead you to the same option as “syntax”.
This same concept works everywhere, from opening files to auto-completing words. And that means a productivity boost.
This is quite subjective, but if you ask me, I’d love to see two things in Light Table some day:
- Font choices. I prefer Gnu Unifont Mono for my code.
- More options for the find-replace functionality, like matching case or finding whole words only.
Apart from these, I really don’t find anything missing.
So, if these points piqued your interest, then go ahead and try it out. And do share your thoughts here.