I finally came to my senses and decided to get something different, and get away from my years-old Dreamweaver+TopStyle Pro+WSFTP ‘workflow.’ I had no idea how much time I was losing…

So last weekend I installed Sublime Text 2. Getting the hang of the way themes and packages and preferences worked took a few hours, but it looked really good. I loved the wide variety of themes available. I really liked the ability to split the screen into multiple columns or rows, so I could view my HTML and CSS at the same time. This article provides a good overview of the things Sublime Text 2 does well.

Sublime Text 2 columns

I tried it out on a tiny HTML5 project I’m working on; this was on Monday. I found that it was pretty easy to convert a folder of the project files into a true Sublime project. I also found it pretty easy to set up SFTP so that every time I click CTRL-S to save, my changed files get uploaded. That was a big time-saver. However, it seemed like every few minutes I was having to change something or install a new package. A lot of features I was used to in Dreamweaver are not in Sublime Text 2, but you can get many similar ones in the form of packages. I got a little tired of this, so I set it aside for a bit and planned to come back to it later.

Today I blocked out a few hours of time and used Sublime Text 2 to hammer out a number of pages in that same project. I ran into a few hiccups, but for the most part, once I got going it became easier. I actually found my coding time today really fun – no more interruptions to go to a separate CSS editor or FTP program. It was fast, I’m getting the hang of the shortcuts and key bindings, and I’m starting to like it a lot.¬†

Sublime Text codeHere are the most important things I’ve found as I’ve been working with the program this week…

1) The themes are great.

Such a nice change… There’s a pretty large selection plus you can find others online, but I’d strongly recommend you get the Package Control plugin before trying to install any new ones.

2) Package Control is critical.

The Package Control plugin is essential for making finding, installing and removing addon packages (which you’ll be doing a lot when first setting up a custom coding environment) simple and fast. You can download and install packages from GitHub and other locations very easily without having to restart Sublime Text 2.

3) The minimap tool.

Although I don’t have it on all the time as it takes up space, it can be quite useful for a really large file.

4) Useful plugins so far…

  • Zen-coding¬†– never used this before – what a time-saver!
  • Sublime Prefixr – runs CSS through Prefixr
  • SideBarEnhancements – lots of basic and not-so-basic changes to the default sidebar
  • Tag – collection of tab tool packages
  • SublimeLinter – Linter package for lots of languages
  • HTML5 – HTML5 elements
  • SFTP – very fast, easy to set up
  • SublimeCodeIntel – code autocompletes

5) An important workaround for color picking.

The color picker in Topstyle Pro is wonderful, it allows you to choose any color on the screen with an eyedropper. There are no default color pickers in Sublime Text 2, and only a couple of packages. The best is ColorPicker, but it has no eyedropper. So, I use it for changing the value of a color already entered; it works fine for that. For picking colors from the screen, I’m using ColorZilla in Chrome or Firefox. It’s a small tradeoff for the advantages I’m seeing with Sublime Text 2.