I've been using Sublime Text on and off for longer than I can remember. I think Sublime has been around since the start of my "real" career over 10 years ago, but I could be mistaken1. It certainly feels that long. And in that time I have never gotten upset with Sublime. I've never rage quit or ran into an issue of Sublime not being able to do the thing I wanted it to do. As much of a cliche it may sound: it just works.

Even when I switch editors (VSCode, Geany, kitty+vim etc.) for a period of time, I find myself always coming back to Sublime. The only reason I try other editors is simply that: to try them. Maybe that's why these editors don't click with me. Maybe I'm giving Sublime an unfair advantage since I'm simply "testing" other editors, rather than looking for a solid alternative.

And don't get me wrong, I understand why editors like VSCode are extremely popular. VSCode has a massive ecosystem and new plugins are generally developed for that editor before all others. Finding solutions to problems online is very easy, since it is so popular. But best of all - it's open source2.

So why am I using a non-open source editor? (Spoilers: because it's a great editor)

"A Proprietary Editor - How Could You?!"

I know, I know. If you're familiar with me or the things I write about it must seem odd that I would willingly use proprietary software over open source. This is something I struggle with constantly day-to-day in the realm of "personal tech". I find with age I become more open-minded to having a diverse range of software and hardware choices. Open source is best in concept but not always best in practice.

The problem is that Sublime is just such a great editor. I can't ignore quality and refuse to use good software solely based on it's licensing. A few personal things I love about Sublime:

  • Incredibly fast
  • Handles massive files without breaking a sweat
  • Minimal resource footprint (ex. uses <0.1% CPU working on huge projects)
  • Large ecosystem of plugins/themes
  • No Electron

Other editors can certainly check off a few of those boxes as well, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that checks off them all.

Being a Cheapskate

I must confess something that I think most Sublime users are guilty of: I've never bought a license. I've installed and used Sublime on countless machines, on multiple operating systems from Linux to Windows to MacOS. That Unregistered text in the top right application bar has been with me since the beginning. But that in no longer the case.

I finally purchased a license. I bundled it with Sublime Merge, so it ended up costing me $168 USD. When I initially looked at that price tag I must admit I was tempted to close the browser tab and forget the whole thing. But then I realized I have been using this editor free of charge for over 10 years. (Not to mention using Sublime Merge for quite some time as well!)

So I did a little math:

$168 / 10 years = $16.80

Looking at it in that perspective, it's actually a great deal. Not to mention they have very respectable terms for their licenses:

Personal licenses come with 3 years of updates. After 3 years, you'll be able to continue to use the last version released within 3 years of purchase (in other words, licenses do not expire). Any versions released 3 years or more after the purchase date will require a paid upgrade to use.

Individual licenses are valid for 3 years of updates, but do not expire after 3 years. Only if you wish to use newer versions will an upgrade fee be required.

Licenses are per-user, so you're welcome to use the one license on all computers and operating systems where you are the primary user.

I won't copy everything from their main FAQ page but as you can see it is very reasonable. I also get to feel decent for supporting developers who make very good software.

Final Notes

This post is not meant to convince you to switch or anything of that nature. Use what works for you! I just wanted to share my own personal preference when it came to my main text editor. Maybe this will also convince "hardcore" open source people (like me!) to realize it is okay to pay for software sometimes...

I should be very clear about something: this post is not an advertisement. I have not received any money or "kick backs" to write about my happy times with Sublime. This is purely my own opinion that I wanted to share with the internet!

BTW if anyone from SublimeHQ happens to come across this post: PLEASE look into building a "native" version of Sublime Text for FreeBSD/OpenBSD. I (and many others) would be forever grateful!

  1. Sublime does mention copyright since 2006... ↩

  2. Not the pre-packaged Microsoft version ↩