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Review: jEdit programming text editor Reviews
In December of 2000, I published a hint about jEdit, a multi (programming) language text editing application. It had been a long time since I used it, as I haven't done any intensive PHP coding in about that amount of time.

This weekend, I began to convert macosxhints and its customized PHP code to run on the latest version of Geeklog (the "engine" behind the site). I downloaded the newest version of jEdit from the project's home page, and was very impressed with what I saw. Enough so that I made jEdit the pick of the week for this week.

Read the rest of the article for a mini-review of jEdit...

My project involved working on multitudes of separate PHP and HTML files, and jEdit made the task somewhat easier (although it was still quite a challenge!). There are a number of features that I, as a "non-programmer" programmer, found quite useful:
  • jEdit remembers all the files you had open when you quit, and will open this same selection when you launch the program again, saving quite a bit of time.
  • File markers are visually different for each modified but not saved file. jEdit also has the ability to notice if an open file is changed on disk by another program and alert you if this happens.
  • Syntax coloring is provided for more languages than I can name, and you can create your own schemes if you don't like the provided version.
  • You can split windows, show line numbers, convert tabs to soft-tabs (spaces), and view sidebars which show the extent of loops when you click on the row containing the end-loop character.
  • Full customization possibilities through the extensive preferences panel.
  • An "on the fly" search engine, which searches as you type. This search box also has a "hypersearch" mode, which presents a window listing all line numbers on which the search string was found; a double-click jumps to that particular line in the code.
  • Using a collection of 50+ provided lug-ins, you can easily extend jEdit with added functionality. I'm especially fond of Buffer Tabs (adds tabs similar to Excel or Mozilla) and the buffer list (a floating window showing open and recent files).
The downsides? From my seat, about the only thing I noticed is that it's a bit slow at scrolling a line at a time. jEdit is also a Java application, so it doesn't have the full Aqua interface. I know there are those who swear by BBedit, and I do use the Lite version occasionally, but for my semi-occasional programming needs, jEdit more than fits the bill. Best of all, jEdit is free, and the newest version has a simple double-click installation process.

On a related note, I made great progress with the Geeklog conversion project that prompted me to re-examine jEdit. The macosxhints site is now (on my local OS X box) at about the 95% stage in matching the current site's look and custom PHP features. Sometime over the next couple of weeks, we'll be upgrading the main site to Geeklog 1.35 as I get the last five percent done, and a couple of final bugs are squashed in Geeklog.
  • Currently 3.00 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (7 votes cast)

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I'll second that
Authored by: swank on Apr 29, '02 05:13:13AM

jEdit indeed rocks.

There seems to be quite a strong community behind it as well...


also: has anyone gotten the SQL plugin to work?

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And a third...
Authored by: bjorn on Apr 29, '02 09:28:41PM
I'm actually using JEdit as my primary editor for doing Java development (I just can't quite bring myself to suck it up and start using VIM - I like my mouse too much) so I am using it pretty much 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, and am finding it a highly productive environment. In addition to the notes above, it also has a nicely robust java-based macro language (it uses BeanShell), and the community site has a number of macros available for download. On the plugin side, for developers, I *highly* recommend getting ctags up and running, and the upcoming version of SpeedJava (I got an early preview from the developer :) ) is spectacularly useful as well - a really nice class browser combined with pretty effective code completion. I really have trouble coming up with any major downsides to JEedit - it is quite an impressive little editor.

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I swear by jEdit
Authored by: labmonky on Apr 30, '02 11:31:20PM
I have been using jEdit since version 2.0 and I swear by it. That is a lot coming from someone who used to be married to Emacs. It has tons of advanced features for programmers and web developers that it indispensable and the plugins are great. I also love the fact that it is a Java application, that means I can carry it back and forth between multiple platforms and keep the same environment and settings no matter where I am.

I noticed you listed one of the downfalls to the application as Java. Though, in OS X Apple has a large Java framework enabling Java apps to exploit some of the advanced features of the OS. In jEdit some of these features are taken advantage of. You can make the application look and feel like a native Mac application with the Mac OS Adaptive option in the Appearance panel of the Global Options. jEdit also comes packaged as a Mac OS X APP bundle. One thing I noticed that was different in the 4.0 version of jEdit was the menus were not located in the menu bar as a native Mac application is. This is actually easily remedied by making a slight mod to the file in the bundle...

To do this "Show Package Contents" of Open /Contents/Resources/

Now add this line...

to the end of the file and restart jEdit with the Mac OS Adaptive appearance options and voila! We have a native (look and feel at least) Mac app. (Note: you could also do this with MRJApp Builder and create your own APP package, but why bother when most of the work is done for you.)

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Screen menubar...
Authored by: robg on May 01, '02 09:12:18AM

I tried this modification, but my menu bar is still in the main window ... any thoughts on what might have gone wrong?


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Screen menubar...
Authored by: egilDOTnet on May 01, '02 02:37:13PM

It worked for me, but beware that you cannot use TextEdit for this. Try to open the file in jEdit itself, then add the line (copy/paste) at the bottom, so its on its own line there, save, quit jEdit and restart it.

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Screen menubar...
Authored by: labmonky on May 01, '02 10:41:03PM

You gotta make sure you have the Mac OS Adaptive setting is set in the for the Swing Look and Feel. Also as "egilDOTnet" mentioned in his post, you can't make the edits with TextEdit. When I made the changes I actually did it from the CLI with emacs as root, but that might not be necessary.

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I had used vi...but...
Authored by: robg on May 03, '02 11:11:01AM

for some reason, it didn't work. I opened the file again, deleted the line that was already there, pasted the same line again, saved, and ... everything worked!

Go figure...


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Re: I had used vi...but...
Authored by: labmonky on May 03, '02 03:04:38PM

Glad to hear it worked out. It is much nicer once you configure it to work like a native app. Now, once apple releases the 1.4 JDK/JRE maybe we will get our mouse wheel working!

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Re: I swear by jEdit
Authored by: wouter on May 13, '02 05:36:33PM

I have just downloaded, installed and tried JEdit on my iBook. Works fine, but I would like to adapt the look to something a bit more Aqua-like. When I followed your instructions, I could not find the resource file you mentioned... (and yes, I was looking at the right place).

Have recent versions of the Mac OS X .dmg been changed? Could you post the minimum content for the file to make your tip work?

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Re: I swear by jEdit (addtional info)
Authored by: wouter on May 23, '02 06:47:51PM

Better late than never: after some email with the author of the tip (thanks again!) I have found out that my problem is NOT how to change the resource file (I have done so with other Java apps), but how to ACCESS the file!

* After mounting the downloaded jEdit .dmg file, I can find and view the file - but since the image is write-protected...
* After copying the entire folder on the disk image (to a hard disk or a new .dmg file), I can no longer open the Contents folder, even though the Info panel shows that it contains 136 K...

Strange! Can anyone explain this behaviour?

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Re: I swear by jEdit (solution)
Authored by: wouter on May 27, '02 06:42:50PM

My problem in accessing the file is caused by the access rights to the folders and files in the folder.

The solution is quite simple: you have to make the necessary change to the file from within the Terminal application: start a shell, navigate to the file using 'cd', and then use 'vi' or 'pico' to edit the file. Save and presto: you have a Java app that looks like an Aqua app.

More on making a Java application behave like the real Mac OS X thing can be found in Apple's Technote TN2042 at .

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jEDIT rocks solid!
Authored by: egilDOTnet on May 01, '02 06:39:51AM

I am used to an environment where I can have dozens of textfiles open at the same time without cluttering my desk totally. I havent found any other good MacOS editors that does this, but jEdit fits my bill! I really love the ability to jump back and forth between various documents like I am used to from earlier experience, not to say the brilliant bracket matching!

One thing though: My mousewheel does not work with it!... buhu... Is it possible to get this to work in some way?

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jEDIT rocks solid!
Authored by: muzzi on May 02, '02 09:49:38AM

I think that the scroll wheel issue is with the version of Java that Apple uses. I think Sun fixed this issue when they released 1.4 ( Apple still uses 1.3.x) but I'm not sure.

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jEDIT rocks solid!
Authored by: wouter on May 27, '02 06:45:59PM

You can indeed add scroll wheel support to jEdit: you just have to install one of the "plugins" that are available on the site. Too bad that this plugin requires Java 1.4, and thus will not work on Mac OS X (but it does on Windows, if you install the J2SE 1.4)...

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Review: jEdit programming text editor
Authored by: carlo890 on Nov 09, '09 05:12:29PM

hey i just download the new jedit and I was trying to add the tab browser like the version for mac, but when I opened my jedit contents and went to resources there was no And when I try to use the dock it doesn't work. Am I doing something wrong?

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