Text Editors Showdown: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Text Editors Showdown: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Text Editors play an important role in compiling code by developers. If you are starting your programming journey choosing between Sublime, Atom, and Notepad++ can be a hard task. Leave alone these three options – there are many text editors already available on the market. With text editors – it is not just about using one over the other. You are probably dedicating yourself to a given course. It is more than a mere option. But you can always switch teams as you like based on your changing needs. 

Text editors provide various built-in functionality like syntax highlighting, word completion and many more useful features while coding. The underlying features are what makes programming a fun adventure.

So, in this article, I will take you through a deep dive comparing three of the most popular text editors used out there by programmers. Sublime vs. Atom vs. Notepad++.

Introduction: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Sublime Text is a light-weight text editor with a cross-platform source code with a python programming Application Interface (API). Sublime Text has several amazing features like autocomplete, bracket matching, syntax highlighting, and code folding functionalities. Features included in this editor makes coding and refactoring much more straightforward.

Atom is also light-weight and built in a simple way. It is one of the beginner-friendly text editors out there.

Notepad++ is Microsoft’s text editor that ships with Microsoft Windows. Notepad++ can is used in editing text and even source code. It gains its usability considering its free and open-source nature. Features incorporated in Notepad++ include indentation, smart syntax highlighting and autocompletion, to name a few.

Now let us take a deep dive into the three.

Text Editors Showdown Sublime, Atom and Notepad++
A MacBook displaying some code @nonephobia

Sublime Text


  • Sublime Text offers many features that make the whole experience of compiling code with it easy. 
  • Goto Anything – Goto Anything is a handy feature in Sublime Text that enables one to access files more easily. It only takes a few strokes to jump to aspects for the compiled code like symbols, lines or words.
  • Bracket Matching – Bracket matching is a feature that lets you quickly identify any improper matching. Sublime Text directly highlights matching sets of brackets.
  • Multiple Selections – Multiple selections is a handy tool in Sublime that lets you quickly change many lines of code at a go. You can be able to change variable names or even manipulate files easily.
  • Has built-in Python API – The availability of a powerful Python API in Sublime makes the text editor stand out amongst the competition. The powerful built-in API makes it possible for Sublime to achieve more functionality by allowing plugins to augment the built-in functionality.
  • Cross-platform – Sublime Text is available on multiple desktop clients, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Text Editors Showdown Sublime, Atom and Notepad++
Laptop and a monitor setup @kriztine.dev


Notepad++ is Windows own built-in light-weight code editor. It supports 27 different programming languages. It also has interesting features that make the platform an option in this comparison.

Notepad++ features

  • Syntax highlighting – Syntax highlighting is similar to bracket matching lines in code. In other words, where a code line opens and closes.
  • Collaboration Tools – Although collaborative editing is achievable using a plugin, it makes Notepad++ an easy editor to recommend for collaborative work. It majorly applies to the simultaneous editing of files by two programmers using different computers.
  • Code folding – Notepad++ is built-in with the folding code feature that hides sections or specific lines of code that are within a single window. All this is possible without losing any functionality.
  • Single-platform support – Notepad++ is only available on Windows.
  • Autocompletion – Notepad++ is built-in with an autocompletion feature that comes handy when compiling code.
  • Built-in plugin manager – Unlike Sublime Text, Notepad++ has an integrated plugin manager. Plus, a plugin manager, Notepad++ even bolters its support for more programming languages.
  • Simultaneous line editing – Simultaneous editing capability in Notepad++ makes it easy to perform multiple simultaneous edits. You can edit various components of the Text by numerous selections via direct manipulation.
  • Line bookmarking – Line bookmarking helps and generally adds an improved plain text editing experience.
  • Split-screen editing and synchronized scrolling – With split-screen viewing, you can be able to literally “split the screen” to have two or more views of the same file. Split-screen editing makes it easy to navigate through various parts of a single code. Or you can also edit two files side by side.
  • Macros – During code compiling, there are those moments when you have to repeat a given operation several times. What Macros does in Notepad++ is it records these operations then makes it easy for you to duplicate them later in the process.
  • Tabbed document interface – With a tabbed document interface, Notepad++ enables one to view multiple documents within the same window relying on tabs as a navigational widget for switching between the different files.
Text Editors Showdown Sublime, Atom and Notepad++
A laptop displaying text @franco_scarpa


Atom is a light-weight free and open-source editor written in CoffeeScript and Less. For the uninitiated, CoffeeScript is the programming language for compiling to JavaScript. Less, on the other hand, is a dynamic preprocessor style sheet language run on either the server or client-side. Less is compilable into Cascading Style Sheets popularly termed as CSS. By default, Atom supports a total of 35 programming languages from the common CSS, HTML, Python and many more.

Atom features include the following;

  • Customizable – Like many other text editors, Atom allows customization via third-party extensions to incorporate more features and even looks of the editor.
  • Built-in package manager – Atom allows the addition of pre-packaged integrations and plugins that bring more functionality to the code editor.
  • Find and replace – Is a handy feature that helps find and replacing certain lines of code with a few keystrokes. You don’t need to scroll through lines of code that are very long in most cases.
  • Code folding – There are those moments when the code is too long to be accommodated comfortably in a single code. But with Code folding capability, Atom can hide specific lines or sections of code without losing the functionality. 
  • Syntax highlighting – Syntax highlighting is the case where matching syntax in a file are matched with various colors, font, background, and even indentation for easy visual identification. Plus, syntax highlighting makes the code look more visually impressive.
  • Collaborative editing – With collaborative editing, Atom allows multiple developers to work on the same file using different computers simultaneously. 
  • Cross-platform support – Atom can be used on a wide range of devices ranging from Windows, Mac, and even Linux.
  • Multiple Language Support – Like most text editors Atom supports various programming languages. You can use it to compile code in the different back end and front-end languages like SQL, Python, HTML, and CSS, among others.
  • File system browser – Easily browse within your files open single or multiple files all in a single window.
Text Editors Showdown Sublime, Atom and Notepad++
A person writing code on a MacBook connected to a monitor @lifewithcoding

Availability: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Both Sublime Text and Atom have cross-platform support. Starting with Atom, the text editor is available on both OS X, Windows, and Linux. Sublime Text is also available on both Windows, macOS and Linux. Notepad++ is the most recommended editor for Windows. The text editor is only available on Windows. That makes it a bit hard to rely on. So, it might as well not be a good alternative for you if you use other Operating Systems like Linux or Mac.

Underlying code: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Although these text editors perform a similar job, they have different frameworks and programming languages. Sublime Text is almost entirely built with C++ plus a few Objective C for Cocoa integration, and Python for plugins. Notepad++ is developed in C++ with Scintilla while Atom is written in CoffeeScript and Less.

Pricing: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Sublime Text is under Proprietary license (It protects and copyrights its code). The program is a paid one that will set you back by $80. Notepad++, on the other hand, is a freeware licensed under GPL. The software is free to use for life.

Lastly, the Atom is also free to use. The program is a free and open-source code editor that was developed by Github. However, you can still opt to pay for the software, but we have not found any point as to why you should – strictly for the support of the devs.

Text Editors Showdown Sublime, Atom and Notepad++
A person typing on a laptop connected to a large monitor display @programming_is_my_passion

Pros and cons of using Sublime Text, Notepad++ and Atom

Sublime Text pros

Light-weight – Sublime Text is a light-weight text editor that is suitable for any programmer. The program is made with speed being at its core. Its user interface is always responsive.

Tons of plugins available – Sublime has a lot of prebuilt plugins that you can integrate directly in a breeze.

Fully Customizable – The text editor has been built to make it easy for the end-user to play around with the software to their liking. Sublime lets you customize a lot of features including Key Bindings, Menus, Snippets, Macros, and many others. Plus, you can change the look and feel by customizing your themes for the software.

Cross-Platform support – Sublime is available on most common desktop clients including Windows, macOS, and Linux. 

Freemium – Sublime is free and open-source. But at the same time, the software can also be bought – if you wish to. But the free version works just fine.

Allows instant file switching – With Sublime, you can switch between different files without touching strangling the mouse. Thanks to the Goto Anything feature that can be accessed directly from the keyboard using Ctrl or Command + P.

Easy to use – A software is not great if it’s only for experienced users. Sublime Text is for any user, independent of their experience levels. 

Sublime Text cons

Not free and open-source – Sublime is a Proprietary licensed software that does not permit anyone to mess around with its code. Although this might not be important to most, other users might find it limiting when it comes to real-world usage.

Some plugins are quite buggy – With the support of tons of plugins, it is unfortunate that some Sublime Text plugins are still buggy.

Slower than its competitors – Despite packing some of the great features, Sublime turns out to be slow, thus slowing down the code compilation process.

Notepad++ pros

Light and fast – Notepad++ is fast and light-weight. The program handles the code like a piece of cake. The launching time is almost instant and works just fine even when a file is opened.

Portable – As a plus for being light-weight, Notepad++ is also portable. You can carry the program around on your pen drive or even your cloud storage account for a more straightforward setup while away from your computer.

Free – Notepad++ is a free and open-source text editor under GPL.

Automatic saving – Even when you exit Notepad++ abruptly, the program saves all your work before it completely shuts down.

Collaborative editing – Although it can be achieved through a plugin, the feature is handy for a team of devs who collaborate on similar projects simultaneously. 

Easy to use – Notepad++ is easy to use and work with. The program has amazing features and a simple User interface that won’t overwhelm a beginner.

Notepad++ cons

Single platform support – Despite the software being as good as it can to be offered for free, it has limited support. Notepad++ is only available on Windows leaving out macOS and Linux.

Atom text editor pros

Open source – Atom is an open-source – the primary reason that many developers using the software have vouched for.

Multiplatform support – Atom is available on both Windows, Mac and Linux.

Free – Like Notepad++, Atom is also a free and open-source text editor.

Beginner-friendly – The software is easy to use for both beginner and experienced programmers. It allows plugin installations and easily customizable themes support. It also supports keyboard shortcuts – which we know might not be much of a beginner-friendly thing. But that doesn’t worry. You won’t be forced to use that at any point unless it is much needed for advanced features.

Built-in package management – Allows pre-packaged integrations and plugins that bring more functionality to the code editor.

Atom text editor cons

Slow – Atom is slow, especially on startup. Besides, the program also hogs up CPU by using many resources that may lead to the hanging of the UI. This has been the most case to experience many plugins ported to the program. See, keep in mind that plugins are a win for improved functionality, but the program will be sluggish.

Heavy memory usage – Atom will need you to have at least current generation computers for fast speeds because it uses many CPU resources.

Crashing is common – Atom has been reportedly crashing, especially when dealing with large-sized files. 

Text Editors Showdown Sublime, Atom and Notepad++
A computer and monitor set up on a table @setups247

Verdict: Sublime, Atom and Notepad++

Going through all of these text editors, you will realize they have their pros and cons. The first thing you should consider is the availability of the text editor on your desktop client. If you’re on Windows only, you can juggle between any of these three text editors. For mac and Linux users, your choices are to either use Atom or Sublime Text. But don’t let our words restrict you from choosing other tons of text editors not included in this comparison. 

Between the three we recommend that you either use Sublime or Notepad++. Atom is pretty slow, especially for large files. But if you have the new generation CPUs, performance improves a bit but it still won’t compare to Sublime or Notepad++.

In general, Notepad++ is our first recommendation. Notepad++ and Atom then follow closely.

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