Blog Post

skEdit, Text Editor for the Web

skEdit is the web developers text editor. While not nearly as feature packed as some other text editors in the Mac software market, I’ve been using it for two weeks and in that time it has easily saved me three months worth of work.

skEdit includes all of the main features I’ve come to expect in a Mac text editor: syntax highlighting, auto-complete code, and a powerful find and replace function. It also allows you to open a folder as a “site”, which sits on the right hand side of the screen, and a tabbed interface to keep multiple files open at once. And, I’ve found that I have a bad habit of opening up a lot of tabs! The find and replace function, which allows both plain text and regular expression search, is what has saved me the most time. Lately, I’ve found the need to both add and delete 15 or so lines of code from around 120 html files, which skEdit made short work of in a few seconds.

When opening a new text file, skEdit asks you some basic information pertaining to any new HTML document: Doctype, Language, Encoding, Title, and Base. It also allows you to enter any META tags you may want in the document right away.

Remote editing via SFTP, FTP, or Webdav is built in to skEdit, allowing you to edit remote files via any one of these protocols as if they were local. Editing remotely opens up a log to the right, letting you keep an eye on the status of your connection and the command issued by skEdit to complete any given action. Another great feature is the “Insert” menu item, which has a list of special characters easily available. This is a feature I’ve been wanting for a while, as I can never remember the key combo to get a copyright symbol, or the greek alphabet, whenever I happen to need that.

Another great feature is tight integration with the open source Tidy tool, which can easily clean up messy code. Tidy is accessed either by the HTML menu item, or the built in Tidy Panel, and can run on a single file or an entire site. This is great for cleaning up code generated by poor (Cough.. Microsoft… Cough, Cough..) WYSIWYG web tools, and can make removing unnecessary tags a breeze.

skEdit’s Snippets menu item allows you to store sections of code that are used frequently so they are quickly available. You can assign keyboard shortcuts to snippets, or have the snippets inserted into the text when a certain keyword is entered. Extremely useful.

The two drawbacks to skEdit that I’ve found are, for one, a lack of available supported code formats for syntax highlighting and code completion. skEdit supports HTML, ColdFusion, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, ASP, Perl, and Python for syntax highlighting… pretty much anything you would need for web development. I did miss C, shell scripts, and Ruby. The second drawback that I’ve noticed is a lack of integrated spell checking. While not a big deal while editing HTML code, it is a major drawback for drafting a review (like this one!).

I’ve had a good time with skEdit, but it still has a while to go before it is on the same playing field as TextMate. On the other hand, its also half the price at $25, and that includes lifetime upgrades. On a scale of one to five, with one being Apple’s own TextEdit, and five being TextMate, skedit falls at a solid four stars.

5 Responses to “skEdit, Text Editor for the Web”

  1. Yeah, it’s a great app, I save a lot of time when I write CSS stylesheet or HTML page.
    But I use in parallel SubEthaEdit (generaly for the blockedit features and text-encodings conversion features).

    I wait the v3.7 for highlighting syntax update.

  2. I really like skEdit. As you point out it is not as robust as TextMate, but for my purposes it is the best choice. Mostly I just want a text editor that can help to manage multiple web sites/projects (I use skEdit to update all of my pages for the classes I teach) in an intutive way. Since I don’t need anything beyond web development this is a good choice. I do wish it had integrated spell check, this causes me to have to take another step to check spelling, and I also wish it had collapsing code. However the developer is extremely helpful, and has said that a future version will contain collapsing code (and with free lifetime upgrades…) Ultimately text eidtors I think come down to a matter of preference and how you use them, but for me and others who want to use a text editor in the same way (that is mostly for web stuff) this is one of the best choices. (In fact I put it in my top ten.)