Going Back to Gedit

You might remember an article that I posted in 2019 advocating simple text editors. At the time I wrote the article, I was using Emacs as my go-to tool for all of my text editing. As you might know, Emacs isn't the the lightest of editors. And it can be pretty techie to configure and work with.

After posting that article, I started to feel kind of hypocritical. Here I was, a person with few (if any) technical skills, advocating the use of simple tools. But I was using one of the more complex editors out there. On top of that, I was only using a fraction of the features and functions in Emacs. Using that editor was, to be honest, a bit of a waste.

So, earlier this year I decided to simplify. That meant ditching Emacs. But the question was how simple should I go? A bare bones editor, like Leafpad, wasn’t in the cards — I needed a few features like a spelling checker, word count, and syntax highlighting.

Instead of trying or retrying a bunch of editors — something for which I didn’t have the time or energy or inclination — I decided to go with the editor already on my computer. That editor? Gedit.

I’m not unfamiliar with Gedit. I’ve used it quite extensively over the years. That said, it had been a while since I’d regularly worked with Gedit. While the switch from Emacs was smooth, I won’t deny that Gedit took a tiny bit of getting used to.

Gedit’s interface is very spartan. It's been pared down since I last used it.

Gedit after you start it up

As you can see from the screen capture above, there are few controls to get in your way or to distract you. It does take some time to remember 1) those controls are there, and 2) where they are (under the stacker menu in the top-right corner, in case you're wondering).

What’s under Gedit’s stacker menu

Clicking that menu gives you access to all of Gedit’s features. It’s not as if the editor is packed with them. Gedit is quite lean and does what I need it to do.

The configuration options are also few:

Gedit’s configuration screen

You can change the fonts, interface colours, what controls display, and you can turn on word wrapping. There are a few other options, too, but I rarely touch them in any editor so I ignore those options.

Gedit has a number of plugins (which extend its capabilities) built in, and there are third-party plugins, too. I enabled a few that I found useful, and disabled others that I’ll never use.

Selecting Gedit plugins

It’s been about eight months since I made the switch to Gedit. It took me a day or so to adapt to it, but that wasn’t an arduous process. By switching back to Gedit, I don’t think I’ve lost anything aside from a number of functions in Emacs that I never used. I’m still productive. I’m still getting my work done in plain text. And I'm doing it quickly and smoothly.

Writing in Gedit

Gedit is lean. It's fast. It does exactly what I need it to. What more could I want from a text editor?