25+ Free Editors and IDEs for Freelance Developers on a Tough Budget

May 19, 2013 · 32 comments

by Lars


Spending hundreds of dollars on a text editor or IDE may give you a great tool with loads of nice features, regular updates, great documentation etc…. It’s an option but actually there are very useful and completely free alternatives. In this article tripwire magazine provides a list of more than 25 free Editors and IDEs useful for most developers on a tough budget. Please drop a comment if a great tool was missed in the post.





jEdit is a mature programmer’s text editor with hundreds (counting the time developing plugins) of person-years of development behind it. To download, install, and set up jEdit as quickly and painlessly as possible, go to the Quick Start page.

While jEdit beats many expensive development tools for features and ease of use, it is released as free software with full source code, provided under the terms of the GPL 2.0.



Vim is a highly configurable text editor built to enable efficient text editing. It is an improved version of the vi editor distributed with most UNIX systems. Vim is distributed free as charityware.



KompoZer is a complete Web Authoring System that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing capabilities found in Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe DreamWeaver and other high end programs.


GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs is an extensible, customizable text editor—and more. At its core is an interpreter for Emacs Lisp, a dialect of the Lisp programming language with extensions to support text editing.  The features of GNU Emacs include

  • Content-sensitive editing modes, including syntax coloring, for a variety of file types including plain text, source code, and HTML.
  • Complete built-in documentation, including a tutorial for new users.
  • Full Unicode support for nearly all human languages and their scripts.
  • Highly customizable, using Emacs Lisp code or a graphical interface.
  • A large number of extensions that add other functionality, including a project planner, mail and news reader, debugger interface, calendar, and more. Many of these extensions are distributed with GNU Emacs; others are available separately.



Bluefish is a powerful editor targeted towards programmers and webdesigners, with many options to write websites, scripts and programming code. Bluefish supports many programming and markup languages, and it focuses on editing dynamic and interactive websites. See features for an extensive overview, take a look at the screenshots, or download it right away



Intype is a powerful and intuitive code editor for Windows with lightning fast response. It is easily extensible and customizable, thanks in part to its support for scripting and native plug-ins. It makes development in any programming or scripting language quick and easy.



SciTE is a SCIntilla based Text Editor. Originally built to demonstrate Scintilla, it has grown to be a generally useful editor with facilities for building and running programs. It is best used for jobs with simple configurations – I use it for building test and demonstration programs as well as SciTE and Scintilla, themselves.

SciTE is currently available for Intel Win32 and Linux compatible operating systems with GTK+. It has been run on Windows XP and on Fedora 8 and Ubuntu 7.10 with GTK+ 2.12. Here is a screenshot of SciTE.


Emerald Editor

Emerald Editor is a multi-purpose text editing package currently in development for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and BSD, featuring powerful text manipulation tools to make writing – and programming – a breeze. merald Editor is licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License which allows the software to be distributed for free. The source code is also available from our Subversion repository.

medit the text editor

medit is a text editor. Started originally as a simple built-in editor component in GGAP, it grew up to a real text editor. The intention now is to make it a useful programming and around-programming text editor.



gedit is the official text editor of the GNOME desktop environment. While aiming at simplicity and ease of use, gedit is a powerful general purpose text editor.



GNU nano is designed to be a free replacement for the Pico text editor, part of the Pine email suite from The University of Washington. It aims to “emulate Pico as closely as possible and perhaps include extra functionality”.



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++.


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.



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.




Geany is a small and lightweight Integrated Development Environment. It was developed to provide a small and fast IDE, which has only a few dependencies from other packages. Another goal was to be as independent as possible from a special Desktop Environment like KDE or GNOME – Geany only requires the GTK2 runtime libraries. Geany is known to run under Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, MacOS X, AIX v5.3, Solaris Express and Windows. More generally, it should run on every platform, which is supported by the GTK libraries. Only the Windows port of Geany is missing some features.



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.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

12000mah???? June 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I am often to blogging and i really respect your content. The article has actually peaks my curiosity. I am likely to bookmark your web site and preserve checking for new information.


thegeekinside November 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Great list, although I would put in the IDE’s section IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition.


Brett Widmann October 29, 2010 at 1:06 am

This is a great collection of editors. Thanks for sharing!


kiuz June 26, 2010 at 6:49 pm

GEANY ? … I think this is Good.
Fast as gEadit and Poewerfull as Ecplise.



David W. March 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm

You should also add Kate — it’s the KDE counterpart to gedit, and is a pretty sweet editor.

Great list, and I’m glad that you already added Komodo, another favorite of mine that tends to be underappreciated.


Stas February 25, 2010 at 3:15 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.


Peter January 28, 2010 at 7:03 pm

May I also mention Bluefish ( http://bluefish.openoffice.nl ), a very nice lightweight web-editor with tag completion, usable under linux / osx / windows.

Also +1 for gEdit which has a native osx build now.


tripwiremag January 28, 2010 at 9:19 pm

@Peter, sure thanks! I have added BlueFish now.


Cody Robertson January 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm

You forgot InType, A greate free editor. Snippets, plugins, project manager, bundles…



tripwiremag January 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

@cody, thanks. Infotype has been added!


Ben January 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Good list, but SciTE is a better text editor than those mentioned! :)



tripwiremag January 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

@Ben, Great feedback – I have added it!


Paul Eck January 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Another good text editor similar to vim and eMacs is nano. It’s feel is more familiar to those who grew up using gui text editors (i.e. Notepad, etc.). I think it would be a great addition. Also gEdit is great. As you may be able to tell I spend most of my dev time in Linux 😉


tripwiremag January 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm

@Paul, Great that you provided more free editors. I have added Nano and gedit


Ross Timson January 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Don’t want to start a pointless and age old war about which one is better but how can you include Vim and then not include Emacs!

Oh and Kompozer is a community driven fork of Nvu which was discontinued / died a death many years ago. I’d maybe tempted to remove Nvu completely or at least make a note of this.


tripwiremag January 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm

@Ross, thanks for Your grat input. I have removed Nvu and added Emacs!


Jonathan Foucher January 28, 2010 at 9:42 am

How could you leave Geany out of this list ?? http://geany.org
Snippets, plugins, autocomplete for 40 languages, etc…
I use it everyday and its fabulous!


tripwiremag January 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

@Jonathan, thanks for letting me know. This kind of input is so valuable! I will add it right away…


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