We recently asked our team to tell us about their favourite development tools and were surprised when Notepad++ was mentioned a few times.
No matter what your profession, you are bound to have a set of tools that help you reach your goals and complete your projects and you will always have at least one indispensable tool. Your most obvious example would be that of a handyman, who is rarely seen without his tool belt or toolbox. It is almost unheard of for a doctor to be portrayed without the iconic stethoscope and the artist without a palette and brush.
Less obvious is the software developer’s toolbox as this is usually all virtual, unless of course, you consider the hardware used.
So in our search for the indispensable software tool of choice, a surprising hero emerged in the form of Notepad++
We thought we’d share some of the comments just in case you haven’t yet embraced this little gem.
What is it?
Calling it Notepad on steroids doesn’t quite do it justice; it is a multi-tab source-code and text editor with syntax high-lighting and auto-completion, and extended search capabilities.
Why is it useful?
It’s useful for opening JSON, XML, CSV, text, and even Java files, while also providing a handy place to jot down ideas and notes, or keep lines for complex copying and pasting.
It even auto-saves tabs, so when you shut down and open up again, all the tabs that you hadn’t explicitly saved or closed are still available (now that’s a real winner!).
And the Cherry on top?
It is open-source and free, in the true sense and intention of those constructs. It is also extensible, so there are many useful plugins available. Three of the more useful features are detailed below:
The Compare plugin allows you to place two files side-by-side, with all differences high-lighted. The plugin allows you to scroll through the two files simultaneously. This is very useful, for example, for debugging why two different responses are causing different behaviour.
This plugin simply formats raw JSON for ease of reading. This can help with inspection and syntax issue detection.
This isn’t really a plugin, so much as a built-in feature, but it is very useful. Using “Alt + Shift + Arrow key” allows you to select a column, for example in a length delimited file, and to then manipulate that selection.
Other useful features include regex searching across multiple files, in a given location or open in the editor; changing the case of selected text to title-case, sentence-case, upper-case, or lower-case; and changing the encoding of a file.
Where can I get it?
The web-site is https://notepad-plus-plus.org/; the latest version can be downloaded from the “Download” section, while plugins are available at http://docs.notepad-plus-plus.org/index.php/Plugin_Central.
We’d love to hear from you
If you use Notepad++ and agree that it could be considered indispensable, you may want to add some of the functionality you enjoy in the comments below. On the other hand, if you would like to add to our list of useful tools, why not let us know your favourite by leaving a comment below?