New Projects - Fresh from the Labs

Editra—Advanced Text Editor (

For those looking for an advanced text editor that runs across the main three platforms of Linux, Windows and Mac OS, without being too bulky, this might be for you. According to the Web site: “Editra is a general, extensible, multiplatform text editor with an implementation that focuses on creating a clean and easy-to-use interface with features that aid in code development. Currently, it supports syntax highlighting and a variety of other useful features for more than 60 programming languages.”

Editra brings a whole bunch of cool and sensible features into one snappy, multiplatform package.


I didn't run into any weird dependencies with this one, but it does require wxPython 2.8.3 or higher (which I already had installed). Although there are binary packages available only for Windows and Mac OS, there is a source package for Linux, and compiling Editra is pretty painless.

Head to the Web site, grab the latest tarball, and extract it. Open a terminal in the folder, and enter the following command either as root or sudo:

# python install

This built straight off for me, and it probably will give you little hassle, provided you have wx installed.


Once it had compiled, I entered the command:

$ editra

That worked straightaway, and it even prompted me about an available update. It didn't work, but that's beside the point! That's some cool coding for something this early on in the development cycle. If you're reading along and have made it this far, you obviously don't need me to tell you how to use a text editor. However, let me draw attention to the cool features that sets Editra apart from other editors.

First, it's very lightweight and snappy. There's no bulkiness to put you off, and it probably would run nicely on old systems. Second, opening up extra files splits each one into tabs, like Opera, Konqueror, Firefox and so on. Third, it color-codes sections of text, depending on the language and syntax used. It recognizes a large number of languages too. I threw the following file types at it, and it knew Python, C, Pascal—heck, it even handled my configuration file for the X Window System.

It also has the extremely useful ability to open other character sets that are non-UTF-8, and it even suggests which encoding to choose to view the text you need (handy when jumping between systems and foreign countries). What really impressed me was the ability to “fold” paragraphs of text. Next to the line numbers (another handy feature), it groups text into specific bodies that are collapsible and expandable with that little box with a minus sign in it, which turns into a plus sign when collapsed. It's very handy for wrapping your head around lots of intricate code and keeping things organized, with the bonus that it also encourages clean coding.

Editra has way more features available than what I've mentioned here, so check the Web site if you want to see the whole list. If you want an advanced text editor, you could do a lot worse than this. But, if you also want something that works across all of your systems—meaning you have to use only one interface—this might be the one.


John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.