7 IDEs/Text Editors for Developing on Windows

As I programmer, I am constantly tweaking my development environment, looking for better tools to improve my workflow. On a Mac, I have found that in Coda, which is a stellar app, and well worth the $100 price tag.

While I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of options for Macs, one of the nice things about Windows is how many options there are for Windows. we’ll take a look at a few of my favorites.



Price: Free

Eclipse is an industry standard when it comes to development, especially Java development. It’s free, open source, and super powerful. It’s also the force behind a lot of development tool features we have today. Eclipse offers syntax highlighting, incremental compiling, debugging, multiple emulators, and much more.

The best part about Eclipse however, is that it’s got a wealth of plugins so you can add all kinds of functionality to it, from other language support (such as C/C++, PHP, and more) to the integration of other SDKs, such as Android. Make sure you have a capable machine though, because Eclipse is kind of a hog.



Price: Free

Aptana is an amazingly powerful IDE for web developers, and it’s what I use when I’m on a Windows machine. It’s built on Eclipse, so if you’re familiar with the previously mentioned IDE, using Aptana should be a snap.

It has the same exact feel as Eclipse but it supports all of the popular web development languages, and even frameworks like jQuery. Best of all, it’s got built-in FTP support, so it really is an all-in-one IDE for developers.

Visual Studio

Visual Studio (image from blogs.msdn.com)

Price: $199-3,799

You didn’t think I’d get too deep into the round up without mentioning Visual Studio, did you? Microsoft’s own IDE and pretty much de-facto standard for developing on Microsoft platforms, Visual Studio supports C, C++, C#, .NET and more.

It also has a lot of the features that I mentioned previously; syntax highlighting, incremental compiling, and more, as well as a visual editor for building GUIs. If you’re serious about developing for any Microsoft platform, Visual Studio is a must.



Price: Free

Notepad++ is far and away my favorite text editor. It’s lightweight, has syntax highlighting for all kinds of languages, and it is very easy to use. It has everything you’re looking for in a text editor and more. Plus, it supports plugins and includes some built-in ones, like an FTP manager. This is really what won me over.

When I started really using Notepad++, I stopped moving from text-editor to FTP client and back again, and built-in FTP support became one of my requirements for all of my IDEs.

Sublime Text

Sublime Text (image from official website)

Price: Free to Try, $59 to Buy

This one came recommended from a speaker at jQuery Summit, so I decided to check it out. Sublime Text has got the same kind of feel as Aptana, but it’s super lightweight (it’s actually a text editor, not an IDE).

It’s got some really nice built in features, like regex search and replace (which is awesome!), full screen mode, marcos/code-complete, and more. It seems a lot of time went into automating the code process. One thing that seems to be missing (from the trial version at least) is FTP, which was the deal breaker for me.

Komodo IDE

Komodo (image from official website)

Price: Free to Try, $332 to Buy

After going from Coda on the Mac, I wanted something a bit more robust than Notepad++ for Windows, so I looked at Komodo IDE, which I used for a while. With some really nice FTP support, as well as language support form HTML5, CSS 3, PHP, Python, and Ruby, I was all set.

The latest version even includes a database explorer, a performance boost, and some other really nice features. The only drawbacks were that the interface seemed a little cluttered to me (I was using 5), and of-course, the hefty price tag.

Expression Studio

Expression Studio (image from official website)

Price: $149

Expression Studio is something I plan on trying out when I get my new Windows machine (it will be a desktop, mostly for gaming. The Old Republic is coming out, after all). It’s got some really nice features built in, like a preview feature to test in multiple versions of IE, SEO reporting, and which I’m most interested in, Photoshop imports.

It looks cleanly designed, seems featured packed, and comes at a pretty reasonable $149 price point.


These are just a few that I have used. My personally favorite is actually Aptana, a build of Eclipse for web developers. It’s clean, easy to use, and most importantly, has FTP access. I am pretty excited to try out Expression Studio, but it will have to make a compelling argument to replace Aptana.

If you’d like to see a more in-depth review on Aptana or any of the ones mentioned here, let me know in the comments and thank you so much for reading!

  • Andrei Luca

    Where’s Intype?

  • Ivanhoe

    Where’s your brain?
    – it’s been dead for too long
    – it’s still unstable

    Better say “check this out” or “intype is alive again”

    I would replace the Komodo IDE with Komodo Edit – maybe the best free “programmer’s” text editor for Windows and still not bloated as Eclipse/Eclipse based ones.

    • Andrei

      Well, you’re right. “Where’s” sound a bit too aggressive and it’s not appropriate. Just thought it worth mentioning, sorry for the confusion.

  • http://www.babelic.com Oscar Calvo

    What’s about Netbeans? it supports Java, php, c++ etc etc is like Eclipse but (in my opinion) liter

    • MC

      Netbeans is a joke

      • Kai

        Netbeans is the better Eclipse 😉

  • http://www.wdonline.com Jeremy McPeak

    The Visual Studio Express editions are free. While they don’t pack the punch as the full blown version, they’re perfectly fine for development.

    • Umberto


  • http://www.techna2.com/blog/ Neerav

    No IDE from JetBrains?

    I use PHPStorm and I find it better than Eclipse and NetBeans. It is not free though, but its well worth its price.

    • Julien P.

      I was about to post a comment on PHPStorm! I wanted to know if it’s worth the price and if it’s good enough.
      Thanks for your comment, I’ll check this out again :)

    • http://www.casabona.org/blog/ Joe Casabona

      I hadn’t heard of PHPStorm but I will definitely check it out. Thanks!

  • http://www.soulsizzle.com Ryan Marganti

    My go to editor for some time has been E Text Editor. Their tagline “The Power of TextMate for Windows” is fairly accurate. Support for numerous languages, FTP support, and – best of all – support for TextMate Snippet Bundles. I rarely pay for software when there are free alternatives, but E has definitely been worth it.

  • http://kaanon.com Kaanon M

    I’ll just add my current favorite: Geany. It’s dead simple and I can use it across operating systems.

  • Rich

    There’s also


  • Nykeri

    What, no Netbeans?!?!?! ‘Tis Blasphemy

  • Kevin

    I’m a user of phpDesigner. It’s still really good and ties in with CodeIgniter nicely.

  • http://wordpresscafeen.dk Govertz

    I will go for Rapid php, easy to use and very powerful.

    It’s so easy to grasp, without the steap learning curve, compared to some of the others.

    I just love it’s easy to create snippets, preview for php with internal server, javascript, html, css, ruby and alle the popular frameworks.

  • Blake

    Hey Joe;

    Thanks. Even a year after writing this was very helpful. The learning curve is/was the issue.
    I have the Aptana – Eclipse combo, Netbeans, , Notepad++ and the gelding versions of Komodo(What a price!) and Sublime Text. I will now take a look at Expression Studio. The Aptana Studio 3 can be a stand alone on a thumb drive for many things but you are right about the Eclipse appetite for resources. And FTP is a big deal.
    My point is that you have presented a good cross section of what I’ve been able to find and try and for that you are to be commended and not presented with the attitudes of those who have already made a decision.
    Your analysis has helped me.
    Thanks again.


  • rochellecanale

    I used phpdesigner and webuilder and these editors are best for me.

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