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Dramatically Improved UI in jEdit


This is definitely old news by now (in fact, almost a month old), but I’m just now discovering it myself so I decided to share.  The jEdit project is renowned for two things:

  • Marvelous support for every language under the sun
  • Eye-bleedingly bad UI design

It’s always been possible to hack yourself an improved version without too much trouble; but by default, jEdit has always looked terrible.  This one factor, more than anything else, has contributed to jEdit’s reputation as the supercharged editor which everyone refuses to try.  Fortunately, this influence has been seriously reduced in the 4.3pre14 release:


Compare that to the old look.  Even with Java 6 subpixel rendering, the interface remained a mess.  What’s more, many of the interface elements were custom renderings, preventing the platform-native LAF from appropriately styling them (the toolbar controls are a prime example).  All of this is fixed in 4.3pre14.

jEdit is rapidly approaching “usable editor” status out of the box, something that even the mighty TextMate hasn’t quite achieved.  Granted, it’s still Swing-based, which means the fonts render horribly on Vista without Java 6uN, but it’s a step in the right direction.  Now, if only they would do something about their website


  1. Error in the final link, you have it pointing to rather than

    Andrew Binstock Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 12:22 am
  2. “jEdit is rapidly approaching “usable editor” status out of the box, something that even the mighty TextMate hasn’t quite achieved.”

    Obviously, you haven’t used TextMate lately. I have yet to find a single application on the Mac platform as useful and as snappy. Give it a try! (Disclaimer: I do not work for MacroMates but have used TM every day for two years now, typing C++, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, HTML, Erlang, CMake, even publishing on my blog with it, updating Subversion repositories or creating LaTeX files with it!)

    OTOH, my experience with previous versions of jEdit was, to put it simply, “no thanks”. I didn’t like it, at all. Personal opinion, of course, but I will give a try to the latest version nonetheless, now that you mention it. The icons of the toolbar look very similar to those from the Tango icon project

    Adrian Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 12:36 am
  3. Is it just me or does the default look and feel of Netbeans on Mac look awful as well?

    David Madden Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 2:10 am
  4. @Andrew

    lol That’ll teach me to proof my links before I publish… Thanks for catching it!

    Daniel Spiewak Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 9:12 am
  5. @Adrian

    Yeah, the icons are almost exactly from the tango project. IIRC, some of them are custom, but most are just stock that were integrated into the core.

    WRT TextMate: I have tried TextMate, though I can’t claim that I ever used it extensively (I spent about a week using it as my primary editor). It’s not bad, but the out of hte box experience is a bit annoying. It took some tweaking before it got to the point where it was visually usable. Granted, TextMate requires a lot less work than even pre14 of jEdit, but it’s far from perfect.

    Daniel Spiewak Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 9:24 am
  6. I have been using jEdit for few years now, and I still think it’s the most usable and free one out there.

    Just like every project, there are always few problems that are annoying. Like they don’t seem to make their site priority. They don’t change their darn release name (they had pre-X for the past 3 years or so!) Their default has this annoying dot at end of line. things like that are just sad to see they are not willing to change much.

    But in general, i found it very usable and pretty of plugins that simply works and quick to install.

    Zemian Deng Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 9:53 pm

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