Adobe unveils Brackets, “A free, open-source code editor for the Web”

Adobe Brackets LogoAdobe today announced the general availability of Brackets, a lightweight, “free, open-source code editor for the Web”. Built entirely with HTML, Javascript and CSS (though currently running in a OS-specific wrapper rather than the browser) this is a very early release. In the few hours I’ve been using it, it has been generally stable on both Windows and Mac though it still suffers from lack of features and sluggish performance. Despite this it’s certainly usable and gives a good indication of where Adobe are heading with this app. Two of the features that are included are worthy of note, incomplete though they are:

  • Inline editing
    Also called “the quick editor”, this is definitely an innovation worth having. With this feature we can place the cursor over, say, a body tag and click Cmd/Ctrl-E and a small inline editor overlays pops up showing all of the css rules that apply to that tag, even though they may be defined in multiple, external files. Better yet, we can edit them in place and save them back to their original files, all without leaving our main editor window.
    This feature already works pretty well (it can be a little slow to open) – I’d really like to see it appear in other editors (Sublime Text, for example).
  • Live Development
    Live Deveopment  allows you to make changes in the editor and instantly see them applied in the browser, without having to refresh the page. If you work with two monitors or a large screen this can be a very productive way to develop. Mac developers may already be familiar with this kind of syncing from apps such as the excellent Live Reload though this is the first time I have seen it built directly into the editor.
    Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this to work reliably using Chrome 20 beta on OSX Lion… changes would sync and appear in the browser, only to be followed by an error message and a prompt to reload Chrome.
Both of these features are shown in the following video from Adobe:


Adobe are keen to emphasise that this is a very early, unfinished, pre-release version of Brackets with many missing features and a long way to go before it matches the polish or performance of other code editors such as Sublime Text. Despite that, it’s an ambitious project and has the potential to really deliver something fresh and innovative. I’d recommend that you get a copy and give it a try for a few days and, if you have any HTML, CSS or Javascript skills, have a look at the source code that comes with the download and consider making a contribution to help make it even better.