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Thoughts on Sublime Text 4

| Luke Harris
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Sublime Text 4 came out last week and I've been using it as my default text editor. In this review I'm going to focus on my use-case of writing HTML and using Tailwind CSS.

History

I first used Sublime Text (ST) in 2011. It ended up being my default editor up until around the release of Atom in 2014. Atom was and still is very slow though, and is practically abandonware at this point. When VS Code (VSC) gained serious traction in 2016, I switched and it's been my default ever since.

Atom is abandonware

VS Code is a fantastic editor, and some would argue it verges on IDE territory due to the sheer amount of features it provides. It's much faster than Atom, and since both are technically owned by Microsoft now, it's no wonder Atom has become abandonware. Judging by the release notes, it's in maintenance mode.

Performance

VS Code is still a bunch of JavaScript running in a web browser though, and the performance shows. I'm not loading massive files into VS Code as a lot of other comparisons between VS Code and Sublime Text mention, however I definitely feel the lag between interactions and it's become even more stark when compared to Sublime Text.

Sublime Text by contrast is insanely fast - it starts instantly, and everything you do is quick and responsive. Autocomplete has next to no delay. After going back to it for the past week, and then trying to use VS Code again, I found myself getting anxious with the delayed interactions.

Autocomplete

Autocomplete in Sublime is fantastic as well - it has fuzzy autocomplete, so I don't have to type out whole words to get the next set of suggestions. For example, with the Tailwind Autocomplete package installed, I can type "bgyel10" and get the bg-yellow-100 class.

It's also a lot less finicky than VS Code is, specifically with Tailwind Autocomplete (and yes this is a very narrow thing to compare the two, however this is my use case). I often struggle to get the autocomplete to pop up in VS Code, especially when my cursor is next to the closing quote marks. Sublime Text has no such issues.

Muscle Memory

I still try to write HTML tags in VS Code the Sublime Text way - by typing the opening < bracket first. VS Code's autocomplete doesn't work like that, you have to type the name of the tag without the <. It's nice to go back to Sublime and everything works the way I was accustomed.

Extensions

If you depend on certain extensions for your work, chances are you’re either not going to find them for Sublime Text or they’re long out of date.

Sublime Text used to be famous for its extensions, however in recent years as VS Code has grown in popularity, a lot of developers have moved on.

A lot of the most popular ones on Package Control are still actively developed, and the Tailwind CSS autocomplete package I use works great.

Extensions are something VS Code has a huge advantage in, even if they are written in JavaScript and suffer performance issues as a result.

For me, as long as I can find autocomplete extensions for whatever I’m writing in, I’m good.

Issues

I did run into one issue with both Sublime Text and Merge. When I have the apps open on my second monitor under macOS 11.3.1, and then quit + relaunch them, the windows do not re-appear. Strangely, they appear in Mission Control, and I have to go into the menu bar for the app and select Window > Move to (2nd monitor) for the windows to show up again. I'm not sure what the issue is and I've opened a thread on the Sublime Forums.

Should you replace VS Code with Sublime Text?

Are you trying to get away from the bloated Electron ecosystem? Do you want an editor that is fast and dependable? Did you start coding on Sublime Text like I did and still have muscle memory from it?

Then yes.

Sublime Merge

I also decided to replace GitHub Desktop with Sublime Merge. GitHub Desktop is another Electron app (GitHub made Electron, after all) and while GitHub Desktop is nice to use with slick animations and is decently fast, I much prefer Sublime Merge's interface. Also, I have caught GitHub Desktop using almost 1GB of RAM before.

In Merge, your repos are presented in tabs instead of a dropdown menu, which makes more sense for me since I often am working in several repos at once.

All the buttons show you what the git command would be as well, and if you're a power user you can even modify the commands before you run them.

One thing that is missing from Merge is a shortcut to open a repo in Terminal. GitHub Desktop has a convenient ⌘ + ` shortcut. There is a way to add it to the Command Palette though.

I make websites that bring results.

Hi! I'm Luke Harris, and I'm a web designer in Corpus Christi, Texas.

I make websites for businesses and organizations who want to rapidly reach new customers.