Why Highlighting Your Code is So Challenging

July 21, 2022

One of the biggest improvements to working with code is switching to tools that use syntax highlighting. By giving different colors to parts of the code based on whether it’s a variable, class, method, etc. it becomes dramatically easier to read and understand. As a coder it is worth finding and switching to tools that do syntax highlighting. For the command line I like to replace cat with bat. Despite the clear value of this, many tools lack highlighting. Yesterday I found a post from Logan at Panic as to why it is so challenging to implement syntax highlighting in an app.

The exciting conclusion is Panic announcing a new beta version of its Nova text editor that uses tree sitter for highlighting. Nova may not be as popular as VSCode, but it is my preferred editor. As a native Mac app it better follows the conventions of the operating system. It is performant, has plug-ins, and I do not know Mike at Panic but he responds to every single one of my support or feature requests. If you’re a Mac using software engineer and VSCode or Sublime Text feel a bit off to you, give Nova a try.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.