Free open source editor may tempt admins to replace Notepad

Many freeware text editors have been designed to replace the venerable Notepad. For instance, there's the excellent  JujuEdit. Another relatively new one, called Notepad++

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, is not only free but open source as well. Notepad++ was built around the powerful Scintilla editing component -- itself also open source -- which can be freely reused in any number of other similar projects.

Notepad++ supports several programming languages running under the Windows environment. Many of the source code editor's features are aimed at systems administrators and programmers.

Here are eight of the most important of those features:

1. Syntax highlighting. Probably the most common feature of any text editor aimed at programmers is its ability to recognize file syntax based on the file extension (or specify it manually) and, not surprisingly, Notepad++ can do this. If you're not happy with existing syntax logic, you can create your own. This includes highlights to let you know the depth of deeply nested brackets so you don't get confused when working with long statements that have many of them.

2. Autocompletion. Autocomplete functions exist for most of the supported languages in the syntax files. It's also easy to create one by hand.

3. Multiple views of the same document. If you need to modify, for instance, a procedure declaration at the top of a file while also changing the procedure's implementation later on, you can do that in one view.

4. Regular-expression search-and-replace. Conventional and regex-driven search-and-replace functions make it simple to perform fairly complex modifications to files.

5. Multiple language support. Resource files for CJK, right-to-left and other non-Western languages are all available.

6. Plug-in architecture. Several plug-ins already exist, and you can use the fully documented code for creating new .DLL-format plug-ins in C++.

7. Scripting and macros. Commands can be recorded and played back.

8. Editable context menus. The right-click context menus throughout the program are handled through editable XML files, so the user can modify them as needed.


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!

This was first published in February 2006

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