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The focus of this category is on text editors and source code editors, which are sometimes the same thing.

Unlike word processor programs and most other software used to produce written documents, text editors are specifically designed for editing plain text, which may be used for note-taking, but they are also used for programming code, markup, configuration files, and other purposes.

Plain text implies that the text itself doesn't have any formatting or at least none that matters. In plain text, letters or words are not emphasized, boldfaced, or italicized, and the font size and typeface doesn't matter; only the text matters.

Word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect, are not well suited for programming because they automatically insert their own code into the document, which would have to be stripped out. This is because word processors are designed to produce WYSIWYG documents, so formatting effects are achieved directly in the document rather than through the use of plain-text markup.

A text editor is a computer program that edits plain text. Sometimes known as notepad applications, text editors are usually included with operating system installations, but several third-party editors are also available.

Many text editors are simple and small, offering little in the way of features, while others are rich in features. Some text editors can edit very large files, such as an entire database placed in a single file, while simpler editors may be restricted to the files that can be loaded into the computer's main memory.

Some text editors are programmable, allowing the user to automate repetitive tasks, add new functions, or even implement a new application within the framework of the editor. Emacs, for example, can be extended far beyond editing text files.

Features that are available in most text editors include find and replace, cut, copy and paste, undo, and redo. Many text editors include basic formatting features like line wrap, auto-indentation, bullet list formatting, and the use of ASCII characters, but these are generally used only for display, and do not insert formatting codes into the document itself.

Source code editors are specialized text editors designed for programming and are used to create or to edit the source code of computer programs. Also known as coding editors or programming editors, source code editors may be standalone applications or they may be built into an integrated development environment (IDE) or even a web browser. For computer programming, a source code editor is a fundamental tool, since writing and editing source code is the chief job of a programmer.

Although plain text editors can be used to write or edit source code, and some programmers prefer them, a source code editor differs from a simple text editor in that it includes features specifically designed to simplify or enhance the writing of the source code. These features might include syntax highlighting, indentation, and brace matching functions, and usually include a convenient way to run a compiler, interpreter, debugger, or other programs necessary in the software development process. Thus, while Notepad can be used to write source code, it isn't a source code editor unless it enhances, automates, or simplifies the writing of code in some manner.

Some source code editors are designed to be used with a particular programming language, while others include features relevant to a wide range of programming, scripting, or markup languages.

There are probably hundreds of text editors and source code editors available. Many operating systems include two or three of them, while others may be purchased or downloaded for free from various sources.

An editor well known to programmers is Vim. Developed in 1991, it was a clone of an even earlier editor, Vi, which was a text editor for Unix. It's still available, under active development, and many programmers swear by it. However, for those who aren't already familiar with Vim, there are easier editors available. Vim's interface isn't based on menus or graphics, but on commands presented in a text user interface. Modern versions of Vim include a GUI mode, gVim, which adds menus and toolbars for commonly used commands, but its full functionality is still expressed through a command line.

Unlike Vim, more modern editors usually allow the aspiring programmer to click in a window and start typing, and many of them even include an option to run the editor in Vim compatibility mode, which may be of use to those who are familiar with Vim but want to avail themselves of some of the features of a modern editor.

The focus of this category is on any of the specific text editors or source code editors that are currently available, or which have historical significance, as well as on text editors in general.


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