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Textadept is a cross-platform text editor for programmers, extensible through Lua scripting language.

I've used Textadept for a very short period of time but WebUpd8 reader Bruce Ingalls is using it for a while so below he will try to tell you his experience with Textadept.

I program on Mac, Windows & Linux-like systems. It is essential to find a text editor, that I can learn just once, and use on all of them. This editor must also be free/open, to allow the freedom of moving around. Perhaps this is why R. Stallman's first free software was an editor.

I use Vi(m) for quick, small jobs, and Emacs, Eclipse, or Netbeans, if available. Vim & Emacs work well anywhere, but they are not user friendly. I started using Gtk based SciTE, but am disappointed that no native binary is available for Mac OSX.


  • TextAdept does not have pre-built binaries for Solaris, *BSD, Cygwin, or other less popular systems.
  • TextAdept leaves out SciTE's extra visual components, such as tabbed documents, or editing preferences.
  • TextAdept, like SciTE, does not work in a text console, so you'll still want vim, emacs, pico, or nedit.
  • You cannot save preferences, and help is minimal, only on the web.
  • If you already know that Ctrl-space completes a word, then you likely don't need help.
  • Still, there are hidden gems, such as Alt-o, to load the recent file list.
  • Here, I (Andrew) would also like to add that Textadept is a bit difficult to configure as you must go through configuration files if you want to change the font or theme for instance. For info on this, see the Textadept manual page.


  • TextAdept is fast & light! TextAdept alone is only about 1M. (Standard Gtk libs add about 15M)
  • With a single C file, TextAdept compiles easily, once you have the Gtk v2.x development files (*.h headers).
  • TextAdept supports the essentialls of the Gnome HIG Human Interface Guidelines. This means that the keybindings you are familiar with on MS, Mac & Linux will generally work. This includes Ctl-x to cut, Ctl-tab to switch open files, and Ctl-q to quit.
  • Minimal design maximizes screen real estate. Great for netbooks!
  • TextAdept has text editing essentials, with syntax coloring. 
  • Everything else, such as code completion, is extended with Lua scripting. Also, TextAdept has a Lua module, that can run most TextMate templates.
  • Available modules include support for Java, Python, Ruby and recent file lists.
  • Lua is an up-and-coming scripting language, powering lighttpd, iphone, and more.

  • TextAdept does not have a print menu.
  • TextAdept does not have a lua module to copy file saves via scp, automatically (via scp). I hope that Webupd8 has some expert lua programming readers. How hard is it, to get lua to call a2ps or ssh? This should be reasonable, with an external command.

TextAdept took about half a minute to load my 42M text file of 1.2 million lines, and did so, without crashing. Some other editors warn of crashing, before attempting this.

I've yet to simulate recovery capabilities; `vi -r`, or emacs will prompt to load unsaved changes.

Generally, TextAdept's smart editing, such as automatic indenting works well, because it is kept to a minimum. The only annoyance I've found, is that TextAdept builds matching quotes, prompting "I''ve" in this sentence.

Install Textadept in Ubuntu

To make it easier to install under Ubuntu 11.04 and 10.10 (sorry, I couldn't get it to work on Ubuntu 10.04, at least not on 64bit), you can add the WebUpd8 PPA and install Textadept using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install textadept

You can also download Textadept binaries (for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X) as well as the source code via its download page as well as this Github page (packages by Bruce).

This post was written by WebUpd8 reader Bruce Ingalls.