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Gedit is one of the most widely-used GUI text editors available in Linux. Every GNOME user resorts to using Gedit if not working in the command line because the editor is not only fast, but also extensible via a series of plugins. This article discusses some of the most useful such plugins and how they can make your text editing easier.

Gedit already comes with a dozen preinstalled plugins that provide the user with document statistics, a Python console and tools to format and sort batches of text. From the GNOME.org website we can download other such extensions that we simply copy in the ~/.gnome2/gedit/plugins/ directory.

The Gedit plugins window

Text formatting

The Align plugin alows one to group selected text into columns just like you would do in OpenOffice.org Write or other advanced text editor. You can even set a background color for the text with the intuitively-named Current Line Background Color plugin. If you have the GtkSourceCompletion library installed, you can use the Document Words Completion plugin to ease the way you write your text. The Word completion plugin does the same thing by popping up a small context menu that allows the user to chose the right word.

The word completion plugin

If you want to increase or decrease the line spacing of your text, it all can be done by installing the Line-spacing plugin.

General use

The Send To plugin can be particularly useful if you wish to quickly send a text file to someone via e-mail. It creates a new entry in the file menu, just below the Save As option. Would you like the session saver functionality from Firefox included in Gedit? No problem - use this plugin to restore the last used tabs automatically on startup.

The Grep plugin can be used to search for text not only in files, but also folders. One thing worth mentioning is that this plugin searches through files even if they weren't saved yet. How about Multiple Copy/Paste Channels? You can chose what to paste by picking one of the ten channels that this plugin has to offer.

Code editing

Gedit is perfect for code editing, be it HTML, PHP, plain C or other scripting and programming languages. If you're working in PHP, you can use a plugin to automatically strip whitespaces after ?> tags to reduce filesize. The Strict Tabulation plugin automatically sets tabulation to four spaces in PHP and Python and to two spaces in Ruby files.

There is a HTML export plugin that takes all the text you currently selected and exports it to a HTML file, ready to be uploaded to a server. The HTML Tidy plugin needs no introduction and it can be used to clean up your code while the Live HTML Timestamp plugin mimics a feature from XEmacs that inserts the time and date into a file every time the said file is being saved.

Webdesigners might find it interesting to know that Gedit has syntax highliting support and that there is a certain plugin that also displays Markdown previews in a bottom panel of Gedit's window.

Developers working in Python can use the Run in Python plugin to execute their code with the locally installed Python interpreter or check their code with the Pylint plugin.

Internet

Did you know you can actually browse web pages with the use of Gedit? With the help of this plugin, you can navigate the web just as you would do in Dillo or Firefox. Since Gedit has support for tabs, you can read a webpage in one tab and write impressions in another for later use. There's also a Browser Preview plugin for web developers that shows the currently edited web page directly into the browser of your choice.

Gedit can also be used as an Internet browser

Other plugins

Automatically inserting text has never been easier. Whenever you develop a website and need a block of text to preview the content area, you can try the Lorem ipsum plugin that automatically inserts the well-known latin text at the current cursor's position. You can even use templates with Gedit and the New From Template plugin. Say you want a letter template formated one way and a code file formatted another way. If you're working with lots of opened files at a time, you can easily differentiate between them by selecting a specific formatting for each of them.

Why use Nautilus when trying to get to the folder holding the file you're currently editing? Try the Open Folder plugin that will get you there in no time. With Gedit you can group your files into projects, search text in files using regular expressions or indent your text the smart way.

The SplitView plugin allows the user to view two files at a time in the Gedit window and work on both of them without having to switch from one tab to another. There's also a Gedit plugin that lets you organize you time as you see fit via the ToDo List plugin. If you and a friend want to edit a text together there's no need to bounce e-mails back and forth between you. Use the Collaborate plugin that allows different users to edit the same file at the same time while saving the changes.

Conclusion

There are many ways to extend this simple text editor. Firefox started as a simple web browser and during the years it turned out to be so much more. The same thing happens now with Gedit with the help of the above plugins. There's a plugin for almost each use you could think of, and soon we might find that Gedit will have instant messaging capabilities or even e-mail client functionality embedded.

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Comments about this article
ehm. OT
writen by: radox1912 on 2009-02-15 07:20:25
litle bit odd, but what theme (appearence) are you using? its very nice
RE: ehm. OT written by radox1912:
Theme
writen by: Razvan on 2009-02-15 11:54:13
RE: Theme written by Razvan:
Vim
writen by: alvare on 2009-02-17 12:03:06
I'm a GNOME fan but Vim has (almost) all that stuff by default. For example in order to make a button run Python you can do this: [i]map <F7> :w<CR>:!python %<CR>[/i] Love the theme btw, I'll download it and make it not look like OSX >:)
RE: Vim written by alvare:

Comment title: * please do not put your response text here