Sublime Text 2 – My list of necessary plugins

Why Sublime Text 2?

A lot of developers use the hipped text editor Sublime Text 2 and I’m one of them. Multiple reasons influence such a decision and from experience the important things I look for in a text editor are the following (in no particular order):

  • Simple User Interface: Simplicity of the interface does not necessarily mean minimal features! Sublime Text 2 does a great job at maintaining an impressive list of features while not having the interface bloated with nested menus, buttons and toolbars.
  • Text Editing Features: I rely heavily on text editing features (Find/Replace with RegEx support, Multiple Selections and Batch Editing, Keyboard Shortcuts etc…) and these are very necessary to maintain a fluid / non interrupted line of thought. Not only for the sake of productivity but more importantly for the sake of focus.
  • Plugins: Plugins and their abundance either make or break a text editor. Sublime Text 2 has a great list of open-sourced and highly maintained plugins.
  • Syntax Highlight & Languages Support: My eyes are very important to me and I need to keep them functioning for a long time, I need a text editor that support intelligent syntax highlighting of multiple languages.
  • Quick File Navigation and Project Wrapping: One of the main productivity boosters in Sublime Text 2 is the ability to jump between files very quickly and wrap your projects in a project container that gives you quick access to the list of folders/files needed for a given project.
  • Compatibility with multiple OSs: I frequently switch between Operating Systems while working (from Windows to Linux to Mac sometimes) and having a tool that can jump with you is great! Sublime Text 2 is compatible with all major operating systems.

Remember, a text editor is not an IDE. While multiple IDE’s such as Visual Studio, Eclipse, Netbeans and Xcode among others provide all the above features and more (debugging capacity) they are usually memory hogs, slow and annoying to use.

Most Important Plugins (Packages)

To go back on track, I find the below list of plugins extremely necessary and part of my setup configuration before jumping to a new machine and start coding. Here they are, also, in no particular order:

1. Package Control – package_control

2. AdvancedNewFile – AdvancedNewFile

3. Alignment – alignment

4. Build Switcher – BuildSwitcher

5. DocBlockr – sublime-jsdocs

6. Github Tools – sublime-text-2-github-tools

7. Markdown Preview – sublimetext-markdown-preview

8. Gist – Gist

9. New From Selection – sublime_new_from_selection

10. Processing – processing-sublime

11. Emmet – emmet-sublime

12. Sublime Linter – SublimeLinter

These plugins are not timeless and probably in the upcoming versions of Sublime they will become obsolete. However for now, I’m going to use and abuse them.

Tip (Finding Package Documentation)

Most of the time when you install a new package from Package Control you need to see its documentation for Key Bindings (Keyboard Shortcuts). Most of the plugins have their README file in the package folder. To reach the package’s folder click Preferences and follow the below:

 Preferences - Browse Packages - (Package Name) - README.*

Mind mapping – Why aren’t you using it already?!

Introduction

A mind map, as Wikipedia defines it, is a diagram used to visually outline information. The concept is simple: reduce the topic of discussion, idea, problem, write-up or concept to one word and branch out from there. It’s a Tree (similar to the CS Tree data structure). The high level overview of a mind map depicts spider webbing. The number of nodes is unlimited whereby each node can also branch into further sub-topics and sub-nodes creating an indefinite depth. What I love most about mind maps is depth, and I’ll discuss why shortly.

The mindmap for this blogpost
The mindmap for this blogpost

Origins

During the research I’ve done for this blog post, I wasn’t able to clearly pinpoint a single originator of the technique (allow me to call it technique). Multiple sources declared Tony Buzanas the inventor of mind mapping however multiple other sources argue otherwise. It is claimed that the earliest examples of a mind map were developed by Porphyry of Tyros (Go Lebanon!). In the quest of discovering the true origins of mind mapping I posted a question on Quora, maybe someone with factual information can shed some light on the bright mind behind this prolific technique.

Why use it?!

Mind mapping is very intuitive!

When I first picked up the fundamental rules of this technique I was very comfortable in immediately applying them to depict my line of thought. And follow it. It was like second nature to me, simply because when I usually take notes they take the shape of general wording scrambled around the main topic and associated via connection threads.

It’s very fast

Once you adapt to the almost standardized shortcuts of mind mapping software tools, your line of thought will be seamlessly depicted and outlined. Minimal rules or actually no rules apply in the creation of a mind map. There’s only one relation to respect: Hierarchy.

Depth

Oh how much I love to analyze a topic in depth. It’s very necessary sometimes to detail a concept up to its minutest detail and jump right away to higher levels. Mind mapping allows you to do that with ease. Follow the branches and jump swiftly from one node to the other without the overhead of looking for the relationship. While analyzing a diagram, going back and forth is essential. The faster this shift happens the less likely you are to lose your line of thought.

When to use it?

The general use cases of mind mapping are diverse. Let’s not limit the power of this technique to what others have used it before and invent your own needs for it. Trust me, there are plenty.

What tools should I use?

There is an arsenal of tools developed with which you can create your mind maps. However, from my personal experience, my two favorites are the following:

MindManager – MindJet

Since I’m currently using a PC with Windows as an OS, MindManager  was my choice. It’s a bit expensive to buy, but it’s worth it. It’s the only tool I found that:

–          Is user-friendly. The interface is similar to multiple MS Office tools.

–          Has a good arsenal of micro tools to create complex mind maps.

–          Is extendable.

–          Allows you to export your mind maps in multiple formats, even interactive ones which allow the receiving party to walkthrough your mind map.

Curio

Curio is by far the best tool that was ever created for designing mind maps. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Macs with no support whatsoever for other platforms. It’s the most beautiful, most user-friendly, and most diversified in terms of micro tools.

Conclusion

Mind mapping is one of the best, intuitive techniques that help you map your thoughts into a clear and relational visual pattern. Use it, breathe it, live it. Harness the true power of mind maps and mapping your thoughts and ideas will become fun again!