Excellent Free Editors and IDEs for Developers

January 28, 2010 · 35 comments

by Lars


Most developers have picked their favourite editor and/or IDE and use it many hours every day (and night). Still it can be quite useful to know what the free alternatives are. Some of the free editors and IDEs available are really high quality and may be worth investigating. If your manly using a large IDE it is likely that having a simple editor as well may improve your efficiency when just editing single files. The free alternative IDEs are also very powerful oprions and may beat some commercials competitors easily when it comes to feaures and easy of use. In this article tripwire magazine provides a list of more than 20 free Editors and IDEs useful for most developers. Let us all know if I missed a great product by posting a comment.





Notepad++ is much more than just replacement for Notepad. It has a lot of features, such as Syntax Highlighting, Syntax Folding, Auto Completion, Multi Documents tab view, Full Drag and Drop supported, Zoom in and out, Bookmark, Macro Recoding and powerful search feature. Users can have their own custom defined syntax highlighting, and this is among my most favorite feature of Notepad++.


CodeLobster PHP Edition

This is a free code editor with syntax highlighting support for PHP, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It has support for autocompletion of HTML tags, attributes and closing tags; an HTML code inspector; a CSS autocomplete facility supporting style property names and values; JavaScript autocomplete that supports keywords, DOM elements and properties; PHP autocomplete that support standard PHP and user’s classes, variables, functions, constants, keywords, etc; a PHP debugger; SQL autocomplete; context sensitive help; class view; browser preview; project manager; and so on. This is a Windows program.


Free Coffeecup Editor

The CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor is a full-featured Web design system. With built-in FTP uploading, wizards for tables, frames, fonts, and more, and 100% valid code output, it’s a great tool for anyone who wants to design their own Website.



This is as close to notepad as it gets but a some features have been hidden behind the simple interface.



HAPedit is useful for people who develop both dynamic and static web pages. It provides syntax highlighting for HTML, ASP, PHP, JavaScript; provides a project manager; features code completion, an SQL console, FTP manager, PHP code “compilation”, integrated PHP help, brace matching, search and replace with regular expressions, statistics on your page (ie, rendered size, images, links, etc), and so on.



This editor comes with built-in FTP facility, making it possible for you to author your web page and publish it without leaving the editor. It has a spell-checker, an internal browser view mode that is able to show your HTML changes as you type, a global search and replace facility across all open documents, built-in tutorial on HTML, JavaScript, frames; etc. There are apparently two versions available – the older one runs on Windows systems, the newer one is written in Java and is apparently cross-platform.


Visual Web Developer 2008

Being a free editor this is a very feature rich and strong editor that can be used even if you’re not coding .net. It’s far from its big brother Visual Studio but also much simpler and faster to load if you just need to edit one file.



Amaya started as an HTML + CSS style sheets editor, but now it is a complete web browsing and authoring environment. It has standard text editors features, with extra supports on web editing features.


Programmer’s Notepad

It is a promising text editor which has a lot of features such as bookmarks, code folding, projects and projects ground with multi-level folders, support for unicode files and powerful syntax highlighting.



RText is a full-feature text editor that can run on any platform. Currently, it supports syntax highlighting for 23 languages include some popular languages such as PHP, HTML, C#, C, C++ and so on.



Nvu is a free, open source software program that allows you to build websites and web pages using a simple WYSIWYG editor. It makes creating websites easily like using Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expression Web. Its built in site manager lets you connect and upload contents easily.



PSPad is yet another powerful text editors for Windows. It has cool features such as syntax highlighting, multiple documents supported, saved desktop sessions, built in FTP client, full HEX editors, text difference with color-coded differences highlighted and a lot of other features. If these features are not enough for you, then you may view their extensions library for 3rd party extensions.


NoteTab Light

NoteTab Light is a free Notepad replacement and a handy HTML editor. It has a simple tab interface and able to search text, strip HTML tags and format text quickly. If you want more advanced features, you may go for NoteTab Standard or NoteTab Pro.


Crimson Editor

Crimson Editor is a great code editor for developers which has a fast loading time and very small in file size. It supports standard text editors features such as syntax highlighting, multiple documents supported, spell checkers, find and replace, and so on.


Komodo Edit

Komodo Edit is a free and open source multi-language editor that makes writing quality code easy. It support Windows, Linux, and Mac. Example of the programming languages supported are Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Javascript, CSS, HTML, XML, and so on. Komodo Edit is based on the award-winning Komodo IDE, so you can guess how powerful it is!



TotalEdit is free for commercial and non-commercial purposes. It has language-specific syntax coloring/highlighting, fully customizable environment, file explorer, external tool integration and built-in spell checker.



Scriptly is an extensive, almost overloaded freeware-code-editor for coding in HTML and PHP. The editor offers 7 styles of syntax highlighting, code completion, code consistency check, code inspector, tree view of the source code for HTML, PHP and CSS, browser preview in IE and Firefox, print preview and image editing.



HTML-Kit is a freeware full-featured editor designed to help HTML, XHTML and XML authors to edit, format, lookup help, validate, preview and publish web pages. Despite its name and the light download size, HTML-Kit is a multi-purpose tool that has support for several scripting and programming languages.




This is without question among the best free IDEs available. It comes as standalone and as a plugin for Eclipse and likely all the features you need. Aptana support many programming languages and as an example offers great support for Ajax including support for the leading Ajax libraries like jQuery, mootools, ptototype etc.



NetBeans IDE is open-source and free. You get all the tools you need to create professional desktop, enterprise, web, and mobile applications with the Java language, C/C++, and even dynamic languages such as PHP, JavaScript, Groovy, and Ruby. The NetBeans IDE is easy to install and use straight out of the box and runs on many platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris.



Eclipse is an open source extensible IDE. At present, it works well as a Java IDE, and includes Java development tools. It requires that you have the Sun Java runtime environment (JRE) installed. The IDE supports Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows ME, Linux, Solaris, QNX, AIX, HP-UX, Mac OS X, and possibly other systems as well.


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie17 July 26, 2010 at 12:20 am

I use an editor online, very funcional and free.
Try http://www.online-html-editor.net , its free and simple to work on it.


Avinash Sonee April 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm

check context editor – http://www.contexteditor.org


Stas February 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I use Codelobster PHP Edition.
It’s the best free IDE if taken all round. Besides of standard highlighting and autocomplete for PHP, HTML, CSS and JavaScript it has pair tag highlighting, easy navigation through tags, preview in all browsers, hot keys for marking tags’ content, attributes and its value.
Tooltips for images in code should be also noted, as the ability of navigation through the links with Ctrl-key holding.
It also includes special HTML code inspector, that allows to compare visible element with the lines of code, that are in charge of it (as in FireBug).
There also are plug-ins for Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Smarty and JQuery.


Flash CMS Templates December 24, 2009 at 10:11 am

Excellent collection of editors!
Personally I like Eclipse, very convenient and feature-rich editor!


HoyaSaxa93 September 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Editplus is for me


Tab Hockamier August 31, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Emerald Editor is kind of the next version of Crimson though it does NOT appear to be moving forward to far:


Alvarez August 31, 2009 at 9:57 am

“Aptana” and “NetBeans” not “aptana” and “netbeans”.


SeanJA August 31, 2009 at 4:53 am

What about Gedit?


agsone August 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Nvu has long been replaced by KompoZer. The name change was for legal reasons (the Nvu name stayed with an early sponsor, the project is open source). KompoZer has many fewer bugs and a much better CSS editor.



Frank August 24, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Crimson editor is a really good editor, but it isn’t under active development anymore. There was one bugfix release by someone (or more people) other than the orginal developer, but that’s already a while ago.

Another good editor is Medit ( http://mooedit.sourceforge.net/ ). If you’re able to compile you should checkout the latest development version. There’s also a compiled Windows version of the latest release (0.9.4).


Phu August 13, 2009 at 3:00 am

I think Aptana is the best one. Currently, i’m using Aptana to develop Ruby related sites and it’s fully supported, you can do anything that had have to be done with Command Line all inside it. In addition, you’ll feel how amazing it is when developing JavaScript, CSS, Ajax, PHP, … under Aptana


Cade August 12, 2009 at 2:36 pm

If you do Actionscript, Flash Develop is a great editor.


Tracy August 12, 2009 at 10:44 am

Aptana is cool and cross platform. As a linux fan I use Bluefish and Screem to. In Windows I use PSPad with its built in FTP.


Bendesign August 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I like Notepad ++. Thank you


WebDevhobo August 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Yay for Netbeans


carsen August 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm

For Mac users, I love Smultron as my editor.


Sirupsen August 11, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Too bad you missed the two best. (Imo!)


Jeeremie August 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm

NVU? it didn’t change since last time i used it. That was almost 3 years ago. Is it still under active development?


ThatGuy August 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

VIM for the win!

-It’s a pain in the ass to configure
-It’s a pain in the ass to use
-I’m pretty sure its complexity is the reason I didn’t do so hot in CS180
-I love it.


Mare August 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm



cancel bubble August 11, 2009 at 12:12 am

I really like Aptana, but on a high-end Mac, performance is really bad. At least for me. Aptana for the PC doesn’t seem to have these issues. I held out high hopes for the latest Mac Aptana upgrade, but performance is horrible on my Mac.


r2 August 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Vim anyone?


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