A Love Note to Brackets

A great number of my work days involve coding, naturally, since I’m a self-employed web developer. I’ve been through my fair share of text editors including TextMate, Kod, Coda, Sublime Text (a very popular one), Xcode (built-in so why not?), TextWrangler, BBEdit, and probably others I’m forgetting. I was forever experimenting and trying out new ones. Until one day, I’ve no idea how (maybe it was Twitter. Maybe it was a google search. I’ve no clue. Maybe it was in my feed reader.), I stumbled upon Brackets.

And it changed me.

That’s right. A text editor changed me.

Brackets is an amazing open-source text editor that is first and foremost built with web developers in mind, and it’s made with the very tools we use every single day: HTML, CSS, and a good dose JavaScript. It’s intuitive, it combines the best of all those other text editors, it’s light-weight, it’s easy to build extensions for, and it’s got a great UI.

Now how did Brackets change me? Well. Brackets has been one of the key reasons I have started to actually participate in the web development community (very slowly, but it’s happening). I opened a GitHub account to start sharing things publicly (my web development work lives privately in BitBucket). I started talking about web development on Twitter. I’m currently planning on adding web development to my blogging schedule.

Before this, I’ve always been a silent reader in the web development community. I read a lot, I learn a lot, but I didn’t participate. Some of this was intimidation, there’s a million people out there who know so much more than me, what could I possibly offer?

But as female web developer, I’m keenly aware of gender disparity in the tech community. And the more I started thinking about it, the more I realized that by staying silent, I wasn’t only doing a disservice to myself, I was doing a disservice to other women in the same boat. Let’s face it, there’s a million people better than me at blogging, writing, crafting, and other things I regularly do publicly. So really, my excuse was not legit and it had to go.

The great attention to design and simple interface in Brackets is awesome. If I was introducing coding to someone, I would do so with Brackets, because it’s not intimidating to look at, it’s there to sit in the background and let you do the thing you do, in the best possible way. It’s not there to take your attention away from the task at hand. I love this. It’s minimal but not minimalistic.

Last week, I published my first theme for Brackets. It’s not quite perfect, I’m already working on a new iteration. But I felt most of the themes in the Brackets repository were very traditional and serious looking. Coding is serious business, especially when you do it for a living. But I’ve never felt serious when I’m coding. When I’m coding, I can be focussed, thoughtful, perplexed, annoyed, or amused.

But mostly, I’m happy.

I discovered HTML when I was 12. And it was the most magical thing ever. You mean I can make words move from one end of the page to another? You mean I can take a picture I made and put it on a website and share it with the world? You mean I can publish my fan fiction stories on a page I designed that looks EXACTLY how I want it to? WHOA. I was delighted..and my delight over code hasn’t faded. So my associations with coding have always been happy, excited, and very VERY colourful.

my first theme ever for BracketsSo it was time my syntax highlighting reflected that. I used colours I love. There’s dashes of purple and oranges and greens and more than one shade of light blue. My happy colours.

And let’s admit it, it’s definitely a “girlier” theme compared to many available. Because well, girls develop too. I want to see purples and greens in my syntax highlighting. There. 😛

So the theme was my first foray into contributing something to the community, and it was really exciting and fun. I’ve already got some ideas for extensions I want to build for Brackets that would help my personal workflow and other people’s too.

So thanks, Brackets, I kinda sorta love you. You made it very easy for me to not only personalize my coding experience but also start adding my two cents the community.

I’m more excited and happy than ever.