Sublime Blog

Distraction Free Editing

Sometimes, you just want to focus on what you’re writing. You don’t need toolbars, you don’t need tabs, hell, you don’t even need menus. Using full screen mode in a standard text editor is a good start, but it’s generally not as minimalist as it could be, and the text is all bunched over on one side of the screen.

So what options do you have? If you’re on a Mac, you can use WriteRoom, and which has a Windows clone called Dark Room. Other options are PyRoom, JDarkRoom and Vroom. These are all great for editing prose, but none support editing LaTeX, let alone code.

If, like Mark Pilgrim, all this makes you wonder why someone would want a text editor with no features, then I do suggest giving one of them a try, it’s a pleasant experience.

Prompted by a suggestion on the forums, the current beta supports this very style. In this setup, there’s nothing at all on the screen but your text in the center, and a muted scrollbar on the right. The cursor doesn’t even blink. You can think of it as WriteRoom for Windows, with regular expressions, Python plugins and code editing.

Here’s a screen shot of it in action:

Extra full screen thumbnail

Note the lack of menu, status bar, toolbar, line numbers, rulers etc.

Unlike multi pane editing, the objective here isn’t to fit as much information as possible on the screen, but to block out everything that you don’t need right now. It also works seamlessly with multiple monitors, with each one able to edit a different file in a similar fashion.

[Edit: this is included by default in the latest versions of Sublime Text. Press Shift+F11 to try it out for yourself]

Enjoy!

PS., If you’re writing the next great literary work, then you may also be interested in the very handy Automatic Backups plugin.

PPS., Did I mention Sublime Text has LaTeX syntax highlighting out of the box?

Jon Skinner

6 Comments

  1. Congrats on this new feature … it is causing me to take another look at sublime

    Comment by Clint — April 5, 2008 @ 2:12 am

  2. Great feature. Two questions dough…

    There is a unused space on the left of the screen (the brushed thingy on the screenshot).
    And text wraped on the right even dough there is more than enough space there (wordwrap is disabled).

    Why is this so?

    screenshot:
    http://www.mojvideo.com/tmp/sublime.JPG

    Comment by Jan Hančič — April 8, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  3. Jan: That’s two settings that the ‘Extra full screen’ mode explicitly sets: It turns drawCentered to true, so what you’re working on is shown in the center of the screen, and it forces wordWrap on with a wrap width of 80 characters.

    If you just want normal full screen mode without all the window chrome, you can turn the Menu, Toolbar and Statusbar off via the View/Full Screen Settings menu, and then just press F11 to enter the standard full screen mode.

    Comment by Jon Skinner — April 8, 2008 @ 7:59 pm

  4. I know about that one. Where can i change drawCenter if I would like to play with this special full screen :)

    Comment by Jan Hančič — April 9, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  5. Probably the best option is to tweak the super full screen plugin directly, all it does is set a few options.

    After installing the package, choose Preferences/Packages from the menu, then Plugins/Extra Full Screen/Super Full Screen.py

    Just comment out the lines that set wrapWidth, wordWrap and drawCentered and you’ll be golden.

    Comment by Jon Skinner — April 9, 2008 @ 1:21 am

  6. Thanks.

    Comment by Jan Hančič — April 9, 2008 @ 2:41 am

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