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There are a number of different editors designed for programming. You may already have a favorite editor; if so you can continue using that editor. If you have never used a programming editor, there are a number of good editors available, several of them free of charge. Many RailsBridge instructors use the Atom editor, so you may want to install Atom; if you end up asking for help during your class it may be easier for an instructor or TA to help you if you are using Atom. Here is a list of some of the more widely used editors:

  • Atom is a free, open-source editor that can be customized to your liking using its rich ecosystem of add-on packages. A download is available for OS X 10.8+, Windows 7/8, and Ubuntu/RedHat linux.
  • Sublime Text is popular with many Ruby and Rails users. You can use it free for evaluation, then must pay to continue using it.
  • Komodo is a very good free programming editor, that is not used as widely as in the past. It is relatively easy to use.
  • TextMate is very popular in the Ruby and Rails community. It is not free.
  • Aptana Studio is a free, full-featured, development IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for Ruby and Rails. It has many powerful features to assist you while you develop your code. You can install Aptana as either a stand-along program or as an Eclipse plugin.
  • RubyMine is used by many companies for their Ruby and Rails software development. Is is also a full-featured IDE, very similar to Aptana. RubyMine is not free, but has a 30-day evaluation period.

There are other programming editors available, but these are among the most popular. Some people use simple non-programming editors, such as NotePad (or WordPad or TextEdit in "plain text" mode). It is fine to use a simple editor, though at some point you should look into using an editor designed for programming as using a programming editor or IDE will improve your programming productivity.

Microsoft Word is not a text editor. It is a word processor.

(Word Processors add lots of weird invisible formatting stuff to the files they edit. You must use a text editor to write code.)

Some programmers use command-line text editors like emacs or vim. These have a steep learning curve, so we recommend you use a graphical editor like those listed above.

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