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Free Windows Editors

Tool Description
ACIDE Simple editor. Has ability to integrate with compiler and other tools. Also has project management. No syntax highlighting, smart indenting, or any other such bells-and-whistles.
AEdiX Suite Full featured editor that comes with a hex editor. Interface looks pretty. One cool feature: perform searches quickly directly from the toolbar.
AnyEdit Polished and lots of features, this is one of the big contenders. From the site: "AnyEdit is a very powerful development environment with a wide range of functionalities. AnyEdit is free for any use and is open source. Written now entirely in C++ and professionally designed for the best look and feel."
Arachnophilia HTML editor, requires Java.
BVRDE From the site: "An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for C and C++. It is designed to make cross-platform development easy. Its features include project management, application wizards, an integrated interactive debugger, and a powerful source editor with source browsing and syntax highlighting. The goal of this tool is to allow a developer to compile and debug applications entirely on a remote computer, while editing and issuing compile and debug commands through a local interface. BVRDE supports a variety of network protocols to allow connectivity with various remote systems. This includes FTP and secure & encrypted protocols such as SSH and SFTP."
cEdit Another polished, feature-full editor. From the site: "cEdit is a freeware opensource IDE with support for unlimited languages... [it has] built in FTP, unlimited languages, intelisense like support, and the ability to make use of any available compiler. Currently cEdit is written in Microsoft's Visual Basic."
Code Blocks Open source IDE, highly configurable, extended with plugins. Uses GCC, MSVC Toolkit, BCC 5.5, and Digital Mars, but can be adapted to any compiler.
ConTEXT Fantastic editor. It has many of the same features as Crimson Editor. Features include:
  • lots of configuration options for the editor,
  • line numbering,
  • highly configuable syntax highlighting with many languages (you can export your colored code as HTML),
  • word wrap,
  • bookmarks,
  • file tabs across the top,
  • an output window,
  • file explorer window (with easy to use favorites & history tabs -- brilliant idea),
  • rectilinear selection,
  • user-definable tools (to compile your code or whatnot),
  • code templates,
  • search in all open files with results in search window,
  • macros, and
  • project management.
Cream A configuration of Vim. From the site: "Cream includes all the features of Vim plus many custom utilities. A short list of features includes syntax highlighting, spell check, multi-file find/replace, bookmarking, function prototype popups, macros, auto-wrapping, reformatting, justification, time/date stamps, file explorer, completion, sorting, calendar, tag navigation, block commenting, Microsoft, Unix and Apple format text editing, virtually unlimited file sizes, 38 varieties of 8-bit, 2-byte, and Unicode support, single/multiple document modes, unlimited undo/redo, show invisible characters, word count, and more."
Crimson Editor I'm *very* impressed. It's fast and it's easy to use (the interface is just perfect). It has good editor features like:
  • line numbering,
  • configuable syntax highlighting with many languages (you can save color schemes you like),
  • word wrap,
  • bookmarks, and tabs manipulation.
Plus it has special extras like:
  • file tabs across the top,
  • dockable output window and file explorer window (tree-view),
  • spell check,
  • user-definable tools (to compile your code or whatnot),
  • code templates,
  • good search capabilities (accepts regular expressions and lets you search in other files),
  • macros, and
  • FTP connectivity!
Dev-C++ Bloodshed Dev-C++ is a free editor originally designed for the shareware compiler, Miracle C. If you used Dev-C some time ago, check Dec-C++ out now -- it's come a long way. Some features: it's now integrated with MinGW32, and you even download and install the compiler with the IDE in one package (great for new users); it has:
  • configurable syntax highlighting,
  • a setup creator,
  • project management,
  • bookmarks, and
  • code templates.
Developers Pad The site is currently down. This editor is still in development. You can download a working beta version. It looks like it was programmed in Visual Basic, and is meant primarily for programming in VB, although it does have syntax highlighting for many languages. It possesses the traditional fault of VB software: general sluggishness despite a polished look. (For example, the syntax highlighting happens very slowly when you scroll through a large file.) However, there are many good things here, like an icon editor and some of the useful features you find in the best editors (bookmarks, syntax highlighting, etc).
Eclipse User response: "includes a wide range of good tools: unit test framework, refactoring, quick assist and code assist, excellent debug tool, share project framework, cvs client, javadoc".

It took a while for my little brain to wrap around this thing, but Eclipse is cool. It's an extensible IDE, meaning it's a framework that in itself isn't much of anything but could be used for an endless variety of things. Go download Eclipse, then install the C/C++ development tool (CDT), and now you've got a full featured C/C++ IDE. The upfront work you have to do in configuring the system is worth the payoff: you get a wonderful work environment for your C/C++ programming. Has a function/class browser, syntax highlighting, etc.
Editpad The "Classic" version is basically free (postcardware). Once upon a time the free version of this editor had features useflul for programmers, but now it looks like those features are only available in the shareware version, and the free version has been reduced to a notepad replacer.
Emacs "Emacs" used to translate to "confusing Linux console editor" to me, but now I see this is not fair. The Windows version is relatively user friendly and very powerful. It has features you just won't find elsewhere, like a SpeedBar (that lists functions within files), a calendar, and the Emacs Psychiatrist (an AI toy for when you've been programming too long) just to name a few. Of course, if you've used Emacs for the console, all the old keyboard manuevers also work in the Windows version. See the description of Emacs in the console editors for more info (click [Console] at the top of this page).
Enigma Fast simple editor with an extra: a built in image editor for creating icons, cursors and bitmaps. It does not appear to have syntax highlighting, line numbering, or other common editing related features. However, it does have project management, and it may be integrated with "products", meaning compilers and other development tools.
GridinSoft Notepad LITE Only the LITE version is free. GridinSoft also has a shareware version, presumably with more features.
GVim This is a Windows GUI version of the popular *nix editor Vim. GVim gives you all the power of Vim (and it is powerful) plus some of the convenience of a GUI. The website states that "Vim isn't an editor designed to hold its users' hands. It is a tool, the use of which must be learned." This extends to GVim. This editor has syntax highlighting for a million different languages. There are some neat things about the ui, like "tear off" menus.
JediEdit Available in a variety of languages, this editor is for the Jedi Knight turned programmer. It has the important features you demand of your editor:
  • syntax highlighting (for multiple languages),
  • line numbering,
  • multiple undo,
  • code templates,
  • customizable shortcut keys.
It also has some extras:
  • file tabs across the top for fast switching between open files,
  • good ascii chart tool,
  • hex edit mode,
  • 3 different selection modes (cool idea, hard to describe) and
  • recordable macros.
Wish the menus were set up a bit more logically. Simple editor, nice look and feel, gets a high rating in my book.
jEdit jEdit is written in Java, and is an excellent tool for programming in any language. It is available on many platforms. This editor appears to be popular, although probably more amongst Linux developers than users of Windows. The editor is expanded by plugins, which is good because it means the editor is just as functional as you need it to be, and it may possess any feature you desire. In the past I have been prejudiced against Java applications for 2 reasons: 1) they are slow, and 2) they have an awkward look and feel. After downloading Java2 1.4 (from Sun) and then jEdit, I must say that it's not unusably slow (although on my Athlon 800 Windows XP box there is a noticable delay in drawing dialog boxes on the screen), and it looks great. And in terms of features, it may blow away even the better shareware editors. I *love* how easy it is to install new plugins. (You get a list of available plugins, download and install them, all within the editor itself through an incredibly simple interface.)
JFE Jens' File Editor is a fast little editor with a light easy feel. The interface is visually clear -- it only takes about 5 minutes to get what's going on. JFE has some fun features, however, which many other editors don't have, including:
  • highly configurable syntax highlighting,
  • macros,
  • showable tabs,
  • super easy to use bookmarking, and
  • a window that shows all open files and all functions within each file (which you can use to quickly navigate to a function).
It has user-definable tools and can capture output in a window (for integration with compilers). JFE doesn't support project management as far as I can tell, and the help feature takes you to a website (which I hate but others might think is dandy).
jGRASP Graphical Representations of Algorithms, Structures and Processes. This IDE includes a unique feature: the ability to produce a Control Structure Diagram (CSD) for any piece of source code. The CSD is a visual aid meant to make code easier to read.
Kankowski Edit Notepad replacer with a few features geared toward programmers.
LCARS editors Are you a Trekker? Not recommended for programming, and probably not even great notepad replacers, these editors (there are a few of them) are made with the "lcars" design used on computers in the world of Star Trek. The idea is fun, and hopefully one or more of these projects will eventually incorporate more sophisticated functionality. This particular link is to a site that lists a lcars text editor amongst other lcars products.
LCC LCC is also listed as a compiler on this site. It's really both - a fast C compiler for Windows, and a functional text editor. Like with Dev-C++, this means you can download a single package, install it, and be ready to start programming right away. LCC is one of the only IDEs that comes with a WYSIWYG resource editor, allowing you to create dialog boxes by dragging-&-dropping controls where you want them.
MetaPad Looks like an excellent Notepad replacement, but it's not really meant to be a tool for coding.
MinGW Developer Studio MinGW Developer Studio is a cross-platform C/C++ IDE. It has been ported to Linux and FreeBSD. C/C++ programmers who use the compiler MinGW have a functional IDE in MinGW Developer Studio. The project management is complete and easy to use. Installation and setup is simple enough. Other features include call tips and debugging. Appears to be a winner.
Minimum Profit (mp) Features listed on the website: "no limit in the size of editable files, english/spanish versions, syntax-hilight for HTML, XML, C, C++, Perl, Man pages, RFC822 mail messages, Shell scripts, Ruby, PHP and .po files, context-sensitive help from the file being edited (using man for C, perldoc for Perl and winhelp.exe under MS Windows), multiple files to edit, block copy & paste, automatic indentation, search and replace, tags support, word wrap".
MS Visual Studio 2005 Express There following "Express" editions of Microsoft Visual Studio products are available:
  • Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition
  • Visual J# 2005 Express Edition
  • Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition
  • Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
  • Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition

Yes, they are free. I tried Visual C# Express and it is quite cool, although I decided to stick with SharpDevelop for now since I'm already used to it.

Some time ago I purchased MS Visual Basic .NET Standard Edition. These "Express" editions are similar to the "Standard" editions from not so long ago. Except now they're free. And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

NetBeans IDE From the site: "When you download the NetBeans IDE, you get a development tool for writing Java programs. There are plug-in modules available that support other languages and technologies, from C and C++ to XML, HTML and Java Server Pages, to almost any technology you can think of. Some of its features are: Syntax highlighting code editor - with support for code completion, annotations, macros and auto-indentation, capable of mixed-mode operation for multi-language documents. Support for the Java, C, C++, XML and HTML languages. Pluggable support for compilers, debuggers and execution services Visual design tools for graphically creating and manipulating visual components. Wizards and code generation and management tools for creating code faster and more easily."
Notepad++ From the site: "A free source code editor which supports several programming languages running under the M$ Windows environment. This project, based on Scintilla edit component (a very powerful editor component) and written in C++ with pure win32 api (i.e. without MFC, that ensures the higher execution speed and smaller size of the program), is under the GPL Licence. "
Notepad2 Notepad replacer with syntax highlighting for HTML and other languages. Advertises itself as being "small, fast, and free." (Uses Scintilla for the editor component.)
NoteTab Light HTML coding tool and notepad replacement. NoteTab is shareware but there's also a free version - NoteTab Light. It has tons of impressive features for writing HTML, but I wouldn't recommend it for C/C++.
Nvu Excellent HTML editor. Creates pretty clean code, and is very easy to use.
PFE Programmer's File Editor is a simple, robust editor. It's easy to use and easy to configure. Unfortunately, it's no longer being maintaind, but you may still download it. Features include:
  • easy to use code templates,
  • custom menu options (very useful),
  • a control station which can be used to access favorite files,
  • integration with any compiler, and
  • easy to use macros.
Editbox colors can be conigured specially for each language, and you can define any number of languages you like. Unfortunately PFE does not support syntax highlighting.
PHP Designer The "personal" version is free for non-commercial and educational use only.
POW Programmer's Open Workbench is meant for a programming language called Oberon, but it also works with C/C++.
Programmers Notepad From the site: "the free, open source, text editor with special features for coders." Looks pretty good.
PSPad Nice looking general purpose programmer's editor, with special features for web programming: "integrated TiDy library for formating and checking HTML code, conversion to CSS, XML, XHTML; integrated free editor TopStyle Lite for CSS editation".
Quincy 2005 An IDE designed specifically for mingw32. It supports project management. It's a simple editor and it loads instantly. It's integrated with GNU tools, namely grep and particularly GDB. An excellent debugging tool. Quincy 2002 is still available at alstevens.com.
Relo From the site: "Relo is a C/C++ IDE for MinGW and Borland C++ compilers. It is mainly targeted at developing Windows (Win32) applications, but can also be used to develop console/dos applications."

One of the features that sets Relo apart from most other C/C++ IDEs is that it has a resource editor. Relo appears to me to be one of the big contenders.
Rhide From the site: "RHIDE is an IDE (integrated development environment). It is NOT a compiler. With RHIDE you can develop and debug your applications written in C, C++, Pascal and other languages for which you have a compiler which can be called from RHIDE."
RSXIDE From the site: This integrated development environment was built for rsxnt and the emx/nt09d port. The newest version can also run the djgpp and mingw32 ports.
SciTE For several reasons SciTE is now my favorite editor. SciTE is an open source editor designed by Neil Hodgson to demonstrate his other awesome creation: Scintilla, which is a windows control along the lines of a Richedit but with properties specially suited for a programmer's text editor. (Several of the editors listed on this site use Scintilla.) I like SciTE because it has:
  • fantastic syntax highlighting (with lots of languages),
  • other neat features related to Scintilla, like code collapsing, code completion, etc.
  • a powerful find-&-replace feature,
  • configurable line numbers,
  • file tabs across the top of the screen,
  • useful viewing options (you can view indentation guides, whitespace, etc)
SciTE is highly configurable, although you configure it by changing variables in a file instead of through a dialog. This seems inconvenient at first, but now I think it's probably easier. Neil Hodgson works hard on this project, and there's a vibrant user community for both Scintilla and SciTE, so you see frequent updates to the software on his site. This editor loads fast and works well. Spend some time playing around with the Options menu and once you get SciTE configured the way you like it, I think you'll love this program.
SharpDevelop IDE for C# and VB.NET projects. With an extremely polished look and feel, this free IDE begins to compete with MS Visual Studio. If you have any interest in C# or VB, definitely check this out.
syn It's written in Delphi, and uses the Syn Edit editor component (as do some other editors listed on this site). Performs syntax highlighting for many langs. Appears to have many features and professional polish.
Ultimate++ Ultimate++ is a C++ cross-platform rapid application development suite. It includes a set of libraries (GUI, SQL, etc..), and an integrated development environment called TheIDE. TheIDE includes visual designers, and works with a variety of compilers including GCC and MinGW. The promise of Ultimate++ is that you can develop cool GUI applications with less code than QT or wxWidgets. I must say, the library contains an impressive bunch of widget options.
UniRed Unicode text editor. More of a notepad replacer than a programmer's text editor, but it does support syntax highlighting. Also has a spell checker.
VIDE V Integrated Development Environment is licensed under the GNU Public License. This is a good editor for programming in C/C++ using a GNU compiler (especially using the V GUI library), or for programming in Java. Features include:
  • limited syntax highlighting,
  • project management,
  • an icon editor and
  • application generator.
Visual MinGW Visual MinGW (VM) is still in its alpha stages, and has been for a long time, so it's not quite usable yet, but to me this project seems very promising. The IDE already has an attractive, functional and fast interface.
WideStudio Build cross-platform GUI applications rapidly using this functional IDE and GUI class library. Note that the applications you create will not have the traditional Windows look and feel. The IDE comes with a resource editor, so you can drag-&-drop buttons onto a form, write a bit of code, compile and go. The Windows version comes bundled with MinGW (a C/C++ compiler). The interface to the IDE takes time to understand, but the author has provided good documentation.
WinVi If you use Vi in *nix you may enjoy coding with WinVi, but I found it to be lacking in features. If you've got *nix in your blood but you're stuck on a Windows platform, try GVim instead of WinVi.
wxDev-C++ An extension of Dev-C++, wxDev-c++ is an IDE/RAD tool for development with wxWidgets. It has a WYSIWYG visual designer for building dialog boxes.
wxWorkshop An IDE and RAD tool with a wysiwyg resource editor for quickly and easily making dialog boxes by dragging-&-dropping controls. This project is currently in "pre-alpha" release. [More later.]
XEmacs From the site: "XEmacs is a highly customizable open source text editor and application development system. Its emphasis is on modern graphical user interface support and an open software development model, similar to Linux. XEmacs... runs on Windows 95 and NT, Linux and nearly every other version of Unix in existence."
yedit/zedit Claude Gerdy's free editor for FORTRAN77. Also comes with zedit, an editor for Fortran90, 95, F and 200x.
Yudit It's fun to play with Yudit - (Y)unicode text editor - because the interface is so wildly different than most stuff. Not recommended for coding though.

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