The 5 Best Cross-Platform Code Editors for Web Developers


Text editors are arguably the most crucial tools for web developers. Finding one that fits your workflow, aligns with your goals, and provides all the features you need can save you a lot of time and significantly enhance the quality of your code.

In this article, I’ll showcase the five best cross-platform code editors for web developers. All of them work on the three major operating systems—Windows, Linux, and macOS. The features you need will largely depend on your working style, coding expertise, and the type of work you need to accomplish. You might have one go-to editor for everything, but many developers use different code editors for different tasks.

Now, let’s explore the five best cross-platform code editors for web developers.

1. ATOM

Atom is a free and open-source code editor created by GitHub. Originally GitHub’s in-house text editor, Atom was released to the public in 2014. With many advanced features, it quickly became one of the most popular code editors.

Its exceptionally well-designed user interface allows you to split the interface into different panes for easy comparison of different files. Atom includes essential features that can significantly enhance your development workflow, such as a built-in package manager, intelligent autocomplete, file system navigation, an easy-to-use find-and-replace function, and more.

Atom also boasts thousands of packages and themes, many of which are created by third-party developers. For instance, Teletype, its latest package developed by the core team, enables real-time collaboration for developers needing a reliable tool for pair programming or social coding.

Pros:

  • Diverse customization options
  • Built-in package manager
  • Easy-to-install packages
  • Git integration
  • Open source and free

Cons:

  • Startup time can be slow at times
  • Occasional performance issues (may slow down the system)

2. VISUAL STUDIO CODE

Visual Studio Code is Microsoft’s cross-platform source code editor that works on all major operating systems. Interestingly, Visual Studio Code was built on the open-source components of Atom, but Microsoft removed some features and added new ones. It’s also faster than Atom, both at startup and during execution. Visual Studio Code is fully customizable, and you can find many different themes and plugins in the official marketplace. You can easily install them from the editor and start using them right away.

Visual Studio Code has many fantastic features that can significantly improve your development workflow. Probably the most notable is the IntelliSense autocomplete feature, providing a list of intelligent suggestions as you code. Visual Studio Code also has an excellent built-in debugger that allows you to debug directly from the editor. Additionally, it supports Git by default, with a separate Git view where you can execute various Git commands.

Pros:

  • User-friendly marketplace and pleasant extension ecosystem
  • Integrated Git support
  • IntelliSense autocomplete feature
  • Built-in debugger
  • Highly customizable
  • Free and open source

Cons:

  • Confusing branding (unrelated to Visual Studio)

3. BRACKETS

Brackets was specifically created for web designers and front-end developers by Adobe Systems. It can be the ideal source code editor for you if you primarily work on front-end tasks (HTML, CSS, JavaScript). One of its most outstanding features is that it allows you to establish a real-time connection with Google Chrome. This means you can immediately see the changes you’re making in the browser.

While you can split the editor into vertical or horizontal panes for side-by-side coding, Brackets also introduces the practical inline editing feature. For example, if you select a specific CSS ID with the cursor, you can open the inline editor by pressing Ctrl + E (on Windows) or Cmd + E (on Mac). Brackets will then show you all selectors belonging to that ID within an inline window. Brackets also supports Sass and LESS, allowing you to use them alongside inline editing and live preview features.

Pros:

  • Preprocessor support
  • Visual tools for front-end development
  • Lightweight (only 40 MB)
  • Syncs with the browser (via Live Preview feature)
  • Open source and free

Cons:

  • Confusing extension management (e.g., no filtering option in the registry)
  • Fewer extensions and themes compared to other code editors
  • Not suitable for working with backend languages (e.g., PHP, Python, Ruby, or WordPress)

4. SUBLIME TEXT

Sublime Text is currently in its third major version (Sublime Text 3) and is a rather popular text editor within the web developer community. It’s not free, but it comes with a free trial. For continued use, you need to purchase a license for $80. However, Sublime Text doesn’t restrict you if you don’t, it just occasionally displays a pop-up prompt asking you to buy the license.

One of Sublime Text’s most interesting features is the Goto Anything command, which you can activate by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+P. You can quickly open files or jump to specific words, lines, or symbols. Sublime Text also provides you with a sophisticated command palette through which you can easily access various features like checking key bindings or switching to another color scheme.

Moreover, it allows multiple selections and split edits and has an extensive package ecosystem. Packages can be installed using the Sublime Text package manager via the command palette.

Pros:

  • Goto Anything and Multiple Selection features
  • Distraction-free mode
  • Instant project switch
  • Advanced package ecosystem
  • Excellent performance on any platform (outperforms all other source code editors)

Cons:

  • Not free
  • Not easy to integrate with Git

5. LIGHT TABLE

Light Table started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and managed to raise over $300,000. It works on all major operating

systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS, although the installation process currently requires some additional steps for OS X users. Light Table has a sleek and minimalist user interface that removes all clutter but still provides a command palette and a blurred-out seeker. It’s written in ClojureScript and currently supports HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Clojure, and ClojureScript.

With Light Table, you can easily perform inline evaluation within your code, meaning you don’t have to use the console when you want to see results. The watches feature allows you to track any important values within your code. Additionally, Light Table also lets you embed anything your project needs, such as charts, games, and visualizations. Light Table has a built-in plugin manager (accessible from the View > Plugin Manager menu), with a good selection of plugins.

Pros:

  • Inline evaluation and watches
  • Embed any functionality
  • Powerful plugin manager
  • Highly customizable
  • Fast and tidy interface
  • Free and open source

Cons:

  • Currently no built-in PHP support, so WordPress development requires some additional steps (you can use this PHP plugin, for example)

Next Steps

In addition to choosing the code editor that best suits your needs, you might also want to explore other web development tools. In that case, check out our article on the best cloud IDEs or take a look at our collection of essential tools recommended for modern web development.