Dev Depot: Boosting Coding Productivity with Brackets.io

Stephen Yagielowicz

Promoted as extensible, focused, open and innovative, Brackets (www.brackets.io) is a unique new open source code editor for web design and development that is free to use, due to sponsorship by Adobe — and “built with the web for the web,” using technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript — in fact, one could say that the Brackets.io website was built by itself, as it is developed and maintained using this tool.

“Brackets is early in development, so many of the features you would expect in a code editor are missing, and some existing features might be incomplete or not as useful as you’d want,” a spokesperson warns. “That said, we’ve actually been using Brackets to develop Brackets for awhile now, so what’s there is reasonably stable.”

Tools shouldn’t get in your way, rather than clutter your workspace with floating panels, toolbars and icons, Brackets focuses on providing ‘Quick Edit’ inline views that provide context-sensitive access to your content, without taking you away from your code.

According to its creators, Brackets was made with [love] and JavaScript and features an active and growing developer community that says “If you can code in Brackets, you can code on Brackets.”

Built from the ground up with a focus on web development, Brackets aims to be helpful without taking over; with features such as a Live Preview and Quick Edit mode, which streamline coding chores without being overly cumbersome to use.

“Tools shouldn’t get in your way,” states a Brackets spokesperson. “Rather than clutter your workspace with floating panels, toolbars and icons, Brackets focuses on providing ‘Quick Edit’ inline views that provide context-sensitive access to your content, without taking you away from your code.”

One thing that makes Brackets different from other web code editors is that it uses a web browser for its design view — hooking up directly to the browser and allowing users to design and develop in the same environment as they deploy into, which can be a huge advantage for coders — and represents another step in the evolution of digital workflows.

“Brackets is in sync with your browser,” the rep added. “With Live Development, Brackets works directly with your browser to push code edits instantly and jump back and forth between your real source code and the browser view.”

The publisher notes that although Brackets is built upon HTML, CSS and JavaScript, it currently must run as a desktop application using a thin native shell to access local files and is compatible with Mac and Windows systems, with a Linux version underway.

Using Brackets is fairly self-explanatory, but information on its unique feature sets, such as Quick Edit and Live Development, is available from a handy online guide. Because Brackets is open source and based on readily available technologies, such as its CodeMirror text editor, Brackets serves as a platform for do it yourself customization.

While Brackets “is still in the oven and needs to bake a little longer before it’s a full-featured code editor,” Adobe offers milestone builds for contributors “and those special kind of crazy designers and developers who like to live on the edge.”

That sounds like a perfect description of an adult webmaster, so if you can live with a service that has its performance, stability and features in flux, as well as risks imposed by its immaturity, then this free application is your ticket to the bleeding edge of web design.

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