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Text Editor Review – Adobe Brackets

Adobe Brackets is an open source code editor by Adobe. It’s lightweight, fast, and free, and has a streamlined process for front-end development.

Text Editor Review – Adobe Brackets

Adobe Brackets is actually built using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, making it easily extendable and configurable for any front-end developer. When you open up brackets, you have access to the source code of the program. In this Adobe Brackets review, I’m going to go into a few things that I liked so far, and then talk about some shortcomings. Brackets has been developing and expanding at a rapid rate, so I’m under the belief that these shortcomings will be tackled in the future. I currently use Sublime Text 2, so I’ll be throwing a lot of comparisons to that editor.

Simplicity & Evolution

Brackets stands up against the rest so far just for it’s pure simplicity. Looking at it is easy on the eyes, and it responds fast to your actions. It starts up quick, runs easily, and feels smooth. Brackets is also constantly rolling out new extensions and features to streamline the process and make coding as easy and efficient as possible. These extensions are all available through the extensions manager, allowing you to make Brackets truly your own editor. The availability of the Emmet for Brackets extension is already a huge plus, and instantly boosts your coding efficiency.

(Side note: if you haven’t checked out Emmet, please do so! It’s available for other editors like Sublime Text and Text Mate)

Native LESS Support

We’re in the CSS pre-processor age. Typing nav, nav ul, nav ul li, nav ul li a is a thing of the past. Nested CSS, functions, variables, and mixins are the present and future. Because Brackets is built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and LESS is also built with JavaScript, it’s supported without you even having to do anything. Saving your *.less file automatically updates and outputs your CSS file. LESS (like SASS and SCSS) is a CSS pre-processor that allows you to code faster and neater. Global variables, scoped variables, and functions are a massive benefit in my opinion. Imagine being able to change your project’s primary colour throughout your CSS by just updating one variable. Brackets neatly and elegantly supports LESS.

Live Update/Preview

With Brackets, you can link your project to a preview window in Chrome by pressing a button in the editor, or you can link your project to a local URL (e.g. http://localhost). Every time you save your file/project, the browser will automatically update without you even having to hit refresh. It works really fast, leaving you no noticeable delay. This is a great feature for quick development. On top of this, when the preview window is open, a highlighted box will surround the current element your cursor is at in the editor.

Overall Opinion & Shortcomings

Overall, I think Brackets is neat, lightweight, and user friendly. It’s highly customisable and expandable to suit your needs, and with the right configuration, it can really streamline your workflow. If you’re coming from an editor like Sublime Text of Text Mate, you’re in good shape. Brackets boasts similar functionality in an even lighter package.

For me though, personally, I’d like to see increased support, auto completion, and tab-to-complete for some dynamic languages like PHP. Brackets is a front-end coding editor through and through, and for that it’s amazing. For anyone who does CMS development with web softwares such as WordPress or Drupal, a little extra would be welcome. That’s not to say that you can’t code PHP in Brackets. Syntax highlighting is present. But Sublime Text takes the upper edge for me on this part. Another big +1 for me in Sublime Text is the multiple cursor feature. I’ve gotten so accustomed to that feature, that t’s hard to say goodbye to it.

Upadte (28th April 2014): At the time of writing, Brackets didn’t have “multiple cursor” functionality. It does now, and that’s awesome.

I’d love to make the transition to Brackets. I love the fact that it’s open source and highly customisable, and that updates are frequently rolling out. I think Brackets has a very bright future, and symbolises what code editors should be. Soon enough though, I think Brackets will be in great standing, and maybe I’ll make the switch!