What is Code Editors?

Code editors are indispensable tools for developers, enabling efficient coding with features like syntax highlighting, automatic indentation, error-checking, and code snippets. Understanding the use of code editors is crucial for careers in software engineering and web development, cutting across different types of programming specializations.

Key Insights

  • Code editors are essential tools for developers, facilitating error-free and efficient coding with features such as syntax highlighting, automatic indentation, error-checking, and auto-complete suggestions.
  • Popular code editors for beginners include Visual Studio Code, Atom, Notepad++, and Sublime. Many of these are available for free, making them accessible for those starting out in coding.
  • Understanding and proficiency in using code editors is almost universally expected in coding-related careers like software engineering and web development.
  • Code editors are distinct from Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), which are more complex and integrate a code editor with other coding functions like compiling and debugging.
  • Noble Desktop offers comprehensive training on using code editors as part of their coding courses, available in formats such as in-person classes, live online courses, and on-demand coding courses.
  • Salaries for positions that require code editor proficiency will vary widely depending on the specific role, industry, and level of expertise. However, coding-related roles are generally well-compensated due to the high demand for these skills.

A code editor is a tool developers use to make writing code go more smoothly. It is a standalone program into which the developer enters their code. Code editors have a range of features, including color-coded syntax highlighting, automatic indentation, error-checking, auto-completing with suggested code, and code snippets. They also facilitate the Developer’s navigation of code files and resources. Also, they often allow for added functionality through the use of extensions. 

The syntax highlighting and automatic indentation in a code editor give the Developer a clearer view of their code’s structure and function. For beginners, they also reinforce their understanding of coding concepts like variables, commands, functions, and loops. The error-checking, auto-completion, and code snippet features are focused on saving time for the coder. With a code editor that checks for errors, a programmer can avoid a tedious manual debugging process. Auto-completion suggests code that may be what the Developer wants to enter next based on patterns from previous code. Code snippets are another great time-saving feature, as they allow one to enter a brief section of code that then expands to a full module.

Today, the use of code editors has become nearly universal among developers. The most popular code editor for beginners is Visual Studio Code. Other beginner-friendly code editors include Atom, Notepad++, and Sublime.

It is important to understand the difference between a code editor and an Integrated Development Environment (IDE.) An Integrated Development Environment is a program that includes both a code editor and tools for other coding functions, such as compiling and debugging. Experts often recommend that beginners start with a code editor rather than an IDE because IDEs can be confusingly complex when one is getting started. If you choose to use the Visual Studio Code editor, make sure that what you download is labeled “Visual Studio Code” rather than simply “Visual Studio”—Visual Studio is the IDE that Visual Studio Code provides a simplified, beginner-friendly version of.

In this overview, you’ll learn more about what a code editor is, what it can do, who uses it, and how to learn it so you can determine how to add this skill to your professional toolbox.

What Can You Do with Code Editors?

Code editors allow a Developer to write error-free code more efficiently. They come equipped with features that facilitate the coding process. These features include syntax highlighting, automatic indentation, error-checking, autocomplete, and code snippets. That’s why their use is practically universal among developers today.

Color-coded syntax highlighting allows the coder to see the structure of their code. The code editor identifies in real-time what type of coding element the programmer is using, and uses color highlighting to mark variables, commands, and functions in the code. The live parsing that makes syntax highlighting possible also allows code editors to provide automatic indentation. Sections of code that are subordinate to the overall program, like those within functions or loops, are indented to show the relationship they bear to the rest of the code.

Another aspect of code editors that increases developer efficiency is the error-checking function, which allows the coder to avoid hours of tedious debugging. Many code editors have an autocomplete function, just as search engines do. This saves you time by anticipating and suggesting what you may want to write next. Code snippets also speed up your process by allowing you to avoid typing the same lengthy bit of code over and over again.

How Do You Get a Code Editor? How Much Does it Cost?

Many code editors are available for free. You can download Visual Studio Code, Atom, or Vim for free. Some code editors, like Webstorm, do require a subscription. Others, such as Sublime, have a free version, but developers must pay for a license to use advanced features. For a beginner, a paid code editor is not necessary.

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What Are the Benefits of Learning Code Editors?

It’s important to learn code editors because they are an industry-standard skill. They have become nearly universal among developers because they make the coding process more efficient. The error-checking feature allows you to avoid a long and tedious process of debugging your code by hand. As with a search engine, auto-complete anticipates the code you will want to write next so that you don’t have to type the whole thing out. Code snippets also save you time by providing a shorthand that you can employ when using the same module of code over and over again, which is particularly relevant if you’re working in an object-oriented programming language.

Using a code editor can also help you understand your own code more clearly. The syntax highlighting function of a code editor identifies elements of your code in real-time and marks variables, commands, and functions in different colors. This feature, along with the automatic indentation that clarifies relationships between sections of code, allows a developer a clearer perspective on the structure of their programs.

Read more about why you should learn code editors.

Code Editors Careers

The use of code editors is almost universal among professional coders. Therefore, almost any Software Engineer or Developer will be expected to use a code editor in the course of their work. Unlike with many coding-related skills, this expectation does not differ across the varied types of programming and development one might specialize in. However, some experts argue that different code editors are best for different types of coding.

For web development, programmers favor Visual Studio Code, Atom, Brackets, Sublime, or Vim. Which one they choose will depend on their level of experience and whether they find it worth paying for a code editor. Among Data Scientists, Visual Studio Code is also popular, alongside some more Python-specific editors like PyCharm or DataSpell. Regardless of your specialty, however, knowing how to use a code editor will serve you well in any coding-based career.

How to Learn Code Editors

If you want real-time access to an expert instructor, you’ll want to opt for live instruction, whether you choose to learn in-person or online. Your study of coding and code editors will benefit from working with a skilled coder and experienced teacher. They’ll be able to clarify concepts when you are confused, give feedback on the work you do, and provide guidance as you pursue your study of coding. Students who prefer to learn on-site can check out available in-person coding classes. Those who’d rather study from home may want to look at this list of live online courses in coding.

Students with a busy, demanding schedule might find a self-paced class to better suit their needs. Noble’s Classes Near Me too can help them research on-demand coding courses. These classes range from brief introductory courses of an hour or two through programs estimated to take 6-9 months and prepare you for a career in the field. If you’re a beginner but still looking for an intensive course, you can find these on subscription platforms including Udacity, Skillsoft, and Treehouse.

You can also get access to free materials that can help you learn coding and code editors. If you’re still deciding which code editor you want to use, Noble has a blog post about how to choose a code editor. Those looking to learn code editors as part of studying front end web development will likely find this free seminar introduction to front end web development useful. Noble has also created a playlist of videos on web design and development, as well as a hub of tutorials, articles, and resources to help you learn code editors. You’ll want to make sure you check out Noble’s comprehensive list of available coding classes as well.

Read the full guide on how to learn code editors.

A Brief History of Code Editors

Before code editors, early programmers used word processing programs to craft their code. Code editors are more convenient for this purpose because their features are specifically designed to facilitate efficient coding. Mike Cowlishaw of IBM created LEXX, arguably the first code editor, in 1985. He originally wrote it for the use of the New Oxford English Dictionary’s creators. However, the broader utility of code editors rapidly became clear. 

LEXX was unique at the time because it used live parsing to identify elements of syntax and highlighted those elements in a color-coded fashion as the developer typed them. It also had the automatic indentation feature that is now conventional for representing code within functions and loops. These features gave programmers greater clarity on the work they were doing by making the structure and function of the code visible in its formatting.

Other notable code editors, such as Vim and Notepad++, followed in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2015, Microsoft introduced the popular Visual Studio Code as a code editor alternative to its Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment. Its creators wanted to provide a beginner-friendly version of the existing software. Visual Studio Code’s developers also created the Language Server Protocol, now an open-source application, which allows code editors to draw on servers that provide features specific to particular programming languages.

Comparable Skills

Code editors are comparable to other tools that Developers use to facilitate their coding processes. These tools include Git for version control, Emmet for expandable and customizable code snippets, and critical language-specific frameworks and libraries like React, Node.js, and Django

Git is an open-source tool used for version control–that is, for tracking changes to your code and saving it in multiple versions. If you make a change and the code stops working, Git will allow you to restore a previous version, while also preserving what you were working on as a separate file. This tool also facilitates collaboration with other coders. Members of a programming team can make changes at the same time without worrying about breaking the code for other people, as they can work on multiple versions at the same time.

Emmet, a plug-in for your code editor, is designed to expand snippets of code that you enter into full pre-loaded modules. You can also create custom snippets for specific modules of code that you want to reuse.

React and Node.js are libraries for JavaScript, while Django is a framework used when working with Python. These tools expand the potential of what you can do with a coding language you have learned. 

Learn Coding with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

When you study coding at Noble Desktop, the expert instructors and small class sizes will expedite and enhance your learning process. Noble’s varied training formats allow you to choose the type of training that will work best for you, whether that’s in-person or live online. Once you’ve finished a Noble course, you can retake that class for free, which can be helpful if you’d like to learn even more about coding. Coding courses at Noble include the use of code editors and other vital developer tools.

Noble has several certificate programs in coding. Your choice of program will depend on why you want to learn the skill. If you’re interested in becoming a Web Developer, you might want to enroll in a certificate in full stack development, unless you’re exclusively interested in front end work. In that case, the front end web development certificate program might be for you. Noble’s certificate in JavaScript development is also a good option for aspiring Web Developers. Students looking to become Data Scientists may want to check out the Python Developer certificate program.

If you’d prefer to start with an individual class before leaping into a certificate program, you can study coding in-person or take live online coding classes.

Key Insights

  • Code editors simplify the development process by helping developers smoothly create error-free code
  • Features of code editors include: 
    • Syntax highlighting
    • Automatic indentation
    • Error-checking
    • Autocompleting with suggested code
    • Code snippets
  • Code editors make it easier for developers to navigate coding resources
  • Some code editors have extensions that can make them more powerful
  • Text editors that offer live parsing and color-coded syntax highlighting have been available since 1985
  • Comparable skills include other developer tools like Git, Emmet, React/Node.js, and Django
  • You can receive comprehensive training in how to use code editors through an in-person or live online course with Noble Desktop

How to Learn Coding

Master coding with hands-on training. Learning how to code in JavaScript, Python, and other popular languages can pave the way to a job in tech, such as web development, data science & analytics, or software engineering.

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