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  • © 2004-2011
    Ludovico Magnocavallo
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J Editor

6 giugno 2003

One of the things that prevented me from switching to Linux full-time as my desktop os was the lack of a good all-around editor. I know VI (vim) and even like it but I just am not productive enough with it, and Emacs has always scared me and I never got around to learn it properly.

I tried Jedit for a while, but it feels too slow and Javish, tried Komodo from ActiveState (I even bought a license) but it’s even slower and crash-prone. Tried a number of Python IDEs like BlackAdder or WingIde but they feel clunky or use qt which I don’t like (I do not have KDE installed so it’s a waste to load qt just for my editor, and moreover qt has bad fonts defaults — I am VERY picky about fonts, my eyes are pretty sensitive to blurred/antialiased/badly designed fonts).

Then I read somewhere a comparison of Open Source Java editors where J came out pretty well, and decided to give it a try. I installed it and was instantly surprised by its user interface and speed, in contrast to Jedit which feels sluggish and bloated even on fast machines. So I fiddled a bit with the props file, played with J a while then forgot about it. About one month ago I started a new Python project here at work, and started using J as my main editor. Day by day I discovered some amazing features of this powerful, lean editor like CVS integration, ssh editing and directory navigation, HTML browsing of files, XML tree navigation, and many others.

Now I can’t live without it. It’s my default editor and I suspect that, as soon as its email and news features are completed, it will be my email client as well. Not only is J a great editor, but it’s lead developer Peter Graves is a very kind person and dedicates lots of his time to improving J (he is now working on J’s own Lisp interpreter) and resolving the few minor bugs posted on the devel list.

If you’re not an Emacs or VI only guy, give J a try.

update: I post my j configuration here, mainly so that I can retrieve when I’m working around on a new computer:

globalKeyMap=/home/ludo/.j/globalkeys
PhpMode.keyMap=/home/ludo/.j/PhpKeys
XmlMode.keyMap=/home/ludo/.j/XmlKeys
restrictCaret = true
autoNewline=false
autoSelectLine=false
dirSortDirectoriesFirst=true
enableExperimentalFeatures=true
highlightBrackets=true
highlightMatchingBracket=true
HtmlMode.upperCaseTagNames=false
showLineNumbers=true
sortBufferList=true
StatusBar.displayLineCount=true
StatusBar.displayLineSeparator=true
tabWidth=4
wrapCol=72
dialogFontName=verdana
dialogfontsize=11
gutterFontName=andale mono
gutterFontSize=8
textFieldFontName=andale mono
textFieldFontSize=11
style.comment=0
autoSelectLine=false
# mail preferences
enableExperimentalFeatures = true
enableMail = true
# Default "From" address information.
userFullName = Ludovico Magnocavallo
userMailAddress = ludo_at_asiatica.org
# The SMTP server to be used for sending mail.
smtp = zzz.zzz.zzz
inbox = {zzzzzz@zzz.zzz.zzz}inbox
bcc = ludo_at_asiatica.org