Scribes: A Lightweight Yet Powerful Text Editor For Linux

Being a developer, one of the tool that I use on a day-to-day basis is a text editor (or you can call it IDE). I used to love Dreamweaver, but I find that it is too heavy and doesn’t work well on Linux. Then I switched to Aptana (it was very resource intensive as well), followed by gEdit, and lastly Geany. In my opinion, Geany is one of the best lightweight text editor (for Linux) out there. Then Scribes comes along.

Scribes is a minimalist text editor that combines simplicity with power. It provides support for most of the popular programming languages and comes with plenty of useful features to help developers automate some of the repetitive process and churn out code faster. Best of all, it has a distraction free interface so that the users can focus exclusively on their tasks.

If you are using Ubuntu, Scribes is already available in the repository. You can easily install it by clicking here, or through the Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager. If you prefer command line:

sudo apt-get install scribes

For other distro, you can download the source code here.

When you first run Scribes, you will be surprised to see an empty window with no menu bar, side panel and statusbar. This is the distraction free interface of Scribes. The menu bar is hidden by default. When you maximize Scribes to the full screen, there won’t be anything else to distract you.

scribes-main-interface

At the top-right corner of the window is a red glow. When you hover your mouse over the red glow, the menu bar will appear.

scribes-menubar

The menubar is also minimal with only a few icons. You can open new files or rename the file, and there is no Save button. Scribes comes with an autosave feature, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work. The most important button in the menubar is the Customization button as this is the place you will be spending most time on initially.

The Preferences option allows you to customize the display style (font, tab width, text wrapping etc) for each language. It supports multiple languages, ranging from plain text, HTML, Java, C++, Objective C, PHP, Ruby, Python to VB.net, and you can configure the display style for them all.

scribes-preferences

The default theme in Scribes is dark in color with grey background and white text. For those who dislike this theme, Scribes allows you to change the theme to one that is soothing to your eyes. If the themes in the library is not sufficient, you can even download extra themes from the Scribes site.

scribes-color-theme

The template editor is the most powerful feature in Scribes, allowing the developers to simplify the coding process and avoid writing repetitive codes. By default, the template section is empty for all languages. You can download an existing template from the Scribes site and import them in.

scribes-template-editor

The template snippet works by triggering a keyword. You enter a trigger text (such as “else”) and press “Tab”. It will then replace the trigger text with the code that you predefined (such as:

if( )
{ 
}else 
{}
  • Auto completion of previously typed words (no code autocompletion)
  • Syntax highlighting for 43 programming and scripting languages.
  • Automatic correction and replacement.
  • Automatic indentation.
  • Spell checking
  • Bookmark specific lines in the document.
  • Plenty of keyboard shortcuts
  • Supports zen coding

As a minimalist text editor, Scribes has done incredibly well. It may not have the bells and whistles of the heaveyweight Dreamweaver, but it does have some killer features that can knock the Goliath off its seat. Scribes is rather extreme in its design, bringing the concept of minimalism to the next level. It may not be suitable for everyone, but I am sure for those who love it, they swear by it.

What about you? Do you love or hate it?

Scribes