Since I started using a Powerbook regularly a couple of months ago, I’ve been trying to decide on which text editor to live in. For writing Java code, I continue to use Eclipse, but I needed to decide on something to use for HTML, PHP, Ruby, and other random stuff. First, a quick list of products I tried but decided not to stick with.

The first editor I tried was gvim. I use vim whenever I’m editing files within a console window, and under Windows I use gvim for everything but Java. On a Mac, though, gvim just doesn’t fit in. You don’t use a Mac every day to use an editor that’s a rough port of a command line application. I still use vim twenty times a day, but not as my GUI editor.

The next editor I tried was TextWrangler. About ten years ago I actually bought BBEdit for $100 bucks at MacWorld Boston, so I gave TextWrangler a shot. It was fine but I didn’t stick with it for very long, mainly because I became enchanted with SubEthaEdit. The idea of collaboratively editing documents with other people seemed really cool to me, so I started using SubEthaEdit. SubEthaEdit is a fine text editor, but I never got around to using it to collaborate with anyone. If I do need to use the collaboration features, I’ll go back to it immediately.

What I wound up with is TextMate, and for one reason only. In the Locomotive Ruby on Rails environment, there’s a menu item called Edit in TextMate for each of the applications it manages. When you use it, it automatically creates a TextMate project for your Rails applications and gets you started editing that project. From there it’s not hard to figure out how to set up projects for your other applications. This project-oriented approach is great for a developer. As I understand it, TextMate has many other cool features, but just the project view compelled me to buy a license. (The actual motivation for buying a license was the application no longer allowing me to click on the “Later” button when I launched it and it asked for a registration key.)