Your Mother Warned You About Using Plugins For gedit

Users of any Gnome-based distribution are probably familiar with gedit, the basic text editor with a few sweet additions, such as multiple file editing with tabs.

Even regular users of gedit may not even know that it has a plugin system, or of the availability of the gedit-plugins package which is maintained by the gedit developers.

The plugins are not included by default in most pre-packaged distributions.  It’s probably not something that most users would take advantage of.  It weighs in at a paltry 2MB, but for most Single-CD-ROM distributions, that’s the difference between fitting on a CD or moving up to a DVD.

Here’s a screenshot of the way gedit comes looking out of the box:


Here is the gedit your mother warned you about (with an appropriate metacity theme applied):


WOW!  Talk about a whole new look! Is that really gedit?

I’m amazed that this kind of functionality existed in “plain old gedit!” Some of these features I discuss below are simply turned off by default, others are enabled by installing gedit-plugins

Let’s focus on the important changes I’ve made that you can see right off the bat:

  1. Sidebar File List
    Once we have more than about 8 files open at a time, using the tabbed system becomes really clunky. This solves that problem
  2. Terminal emulator at bottom
    Whoa.  This alone is going to save so much time! In the past month alone I’ve installed a dozen or so programs from source – this is going to make it stupid easy to follow along in a README file while typing in commands to install a program.
  3. Syntax Highlighting
    I often code my own HTML when writing a new post instead of using a WYSIWYG editor – there is syntax highlighting for damn near every language I can think of off the top of my head – from Ada to XML – it’s probably there.
  4. Highlight Current Line, Line Numbers and Bracket Highlighting
    See in the picture, the cursor is at the end of the line 109. Notice on line 99 the open bracket for that hunk of code is highlighted?. Snazzy.
  5. External Tools – If you’re a developer, all you need is a picture to see how awesome this is.
  6. Snippets
    Depending on what language markup you are using, snippets can be used to make repetative tasks very easy to complete. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve added html code to an image tag to make it so it loads in a lightbox – I’m not going to need to do that again!
  7. Color schemes. This is built into gedit by default, no plugin needed here, but changing the color scheme can help focus on whatever is being worked on at the time and increase productivity.

gedit-plugins can use your help! Stop by the #gedit IRC channel on and make some suggestions.

If you found this article helpful, feel free to speak up and leave a comment.  Remember, always wear protection.