10 Essential Sublime Text Plugins for Full-Stack Developers

By Shaumik Daityari
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When I started with web development a few years ago, Vim was my first choice of text editor. It was easy to work with and I could get the basics done without much hassle. Also, many developers like terminal based text editors because they get the same environment in both their local development machines and remote servers. In spite of the “Vim vs Emacs” debate out there, about a year ago I decided to try out a native text editor and Twitter was abuzz with one of them (no prizes for the guessing which one.)

The creators of Sublime Text say it’s a text editor you’ll fall in love with and, having worked with it for almost a year now, I must say I completely agree with them. It has an untimed trial, and a licence for a single user costs $70. If you spend most of your day working with a text editor, I would say it’s a worthy investment!

What makes Sublime Text even better is its extensibility. So, here’s a look at the plugins that make an already wonderful editor truly Sublime.

1. Package Control

One way of installing Sublime Text plugins is by downloading files and copying them to the packages directory. However, you should go through that process exactly once, because there exists a plugin called Package Control: a package manager, enabling you to install other plugins without leaving Sublime Text. It’s like apt-get for Ubuntu, pip for Python and npm for node.js.

Follow the installation instructions here and you won’t have to install another plugin manually ever again.

To verify that it’s been correctly installed, press Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + p and type in ‘package control’ — you should be able to view a list of options.

Package Control

2. Git

These days, more often than not, you are going to work with a version control software, and the most popular VCS is Git. Are you tired of saving your text files and switching back to the terminal to run a few Git commands. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could execute Git commands from the text editor itself? Install the Git plugin and get more done in less time!

Running Git Diff

3. GitGutter

Although you can run Git commands from within Sublime Text, why check the differences in a file from the last commit by running a separate command when you can view it in real time?

With GitGutter, you can see which lines have been added, deleted or modified in the gutter.

Git Gutter Usage

4. Emmet

Emmet is a useful plugin that saves time by making you write less, thus increasing your productivity. Emmet is available for other text editors like Notepad++ and Eclipse.

There are a lot of things that you can accomplish with Emmet, but I will just tell you my favorite here. Type html:5 and press Ctrl/Cmd + e, and it is expanded to a basic HTML 5 page template. Simple!

Emmet Demo

5. AllAutocomplete

Sublime Text’s default autocomplete considers words that are present in the current file only. The AllAutocomplete plug-in, however, searches all open files to find matches while suggesting words.

AllAutocomplete Demo

6. Terminal

Just in case you want to open a terminal in the directory of your current file, this plugin can be of use. However, by default, it sets Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + t as the shortcut for opening the terminal, which is also the shortcut to open the last closed file. You should change either of the shortcuts to be able to use both functionalities!

7. SublimeREPL

This is probably the most useful plugin for programmers. SublimeREPL lets you run an interpreter of a range of languages (NodeJS, Python, Ruby, Scala and Haskell to name a few) right inside Sublime Text. Let us run a Python interpreter and see if it works. Perform some list checks and computed 48 raised to the power 100.

Running Python in Sublime Text

8. ColorPicker

Usually, if you want to use a color picker you probably open Photoshop or GIMP and use the built-in color picker there. The ColorPicker plugin lets you use a color picker within Sublime Text! After installation, just press Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + c.

The Color Picker Plugin

9. MarkdownPreview

Although many developers prefer to create Markdown files in the cloud (GitHub Gists, StackEdit, Markable), this is for the ‘old school’ writers who prefer to keep their files locally. Although MarkdownPreview is primarily to preview Markdown files, you can go one step further and install MarkdownEditing, which gives you proper color highlighting.

MarkdownPreview Options

10. DocBlockr

If you follow coding guidelines strictly, this is one plugin that makes your task easier. DocBlokr helps you in creating proper comments for your code, by parsing the functions, parameters, variables, and automatically adding the basic items. Start with “/**” and DocBlockr does the rest for you. For instance, check how DocBlockr makes my life easier by creating a format for me to fill based on my comment.

DocBlockr Demo

With this, we come to the end of our list of plugins to boost your productivity. Did we miss out any important ones? Do let us know your favorites in the comments below.

You may also be interested in our Working with Sublime Text video.

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  • Sjors van Dongen

    Indeed I agree that sublime text is an awesome editor and even though I have tried other editors I keep getting back at sublime. But, my love for sublime has decreased in the last few months. The support is pretty bad and the development of sublime text 3 is as good as over. Nice article though, thank you.

  • I still prefer netbeans, it has all these features out of the box.

    • David

      One does not simply compare IDE with a code editor.

    • David

      One does not simply compare IDE with a code editor.

    • OldKnight100

      Me too. NetBeans >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Sublime Text

  • Paul C

    Biggest issue with Sublime – unless it’s now fixed – that I encountered while switching git branches from a terminal is that the editor does not update the open files. This can destroy work as I found out. All other editors that I have used will do this or at the least prompt you. A shame.

    • michalstanko

      AFAIK Sublime autoreloads files modified elsewhere automatically (without asking), is that the problem that you have?

    • Hi Paul,

      I have never tried that. I just use it for little feature wise commits. Heavier Git tasks go back to the terminal, where I am more comfortable.

      • Paul C

        Yes, that is what I mean. Open a git project and a file in Sublime make a change and commit on the terminal. Now switch branches. Sublime does not reload the open file to reflect the branch you are now on. So now if you don’t close and open the file you will overwrite a the wrong branch file.

        I should say I love Sublime but stopped using it for revision controlled projects preferring Eclipse.

        • Oh yes, I have felt the reloading issue very much! I have to reload files manually, otherwise the contents of the file are not refreshed.

          • Paul C

            If they could sort that out I would probably go back to using it as my primary editor. It’s great for small quick jobs.

          • I think this bug is unintentional.

            If you make changes to a file, and do not close that tab, but close Sublime Text altogether, it gets saved in the buffer. Next time you open Sublime, you can see the changes that you made (still unsaved in the file). I think something that does that work led to this bug.

          • Matt L

            I personally love this ‘feature’. It allows me to ctl-z to see past changes to those couple files. Also If they are open and I change the file it gives me the last chance to see what I’m losing.

        • Abdelwahab Bounasser

          checkout http://atom.io awesome open source text editor that supports anything git!

  • Sublime text is really awesome, but if you add too much plugins… It could be quite long to open it.

  • lozandier

    I applaud the authors of these plugins to extend Sublime Text as much as they have, and the creators of Sublime and the community for making the editor as extensible as it has been the past few years.

    Implementing these mostly classic Sublime Text 2 plugins are a great alternative to just using an IDE or Vim for a lot of people:

    – For those who don’t know better to seriously consider either an IDE or VIM (especially if they get to a point they want a terminal)

    – For devs in situations where their workload requires multiple IDEs that totals up to an amount they aren’t willing to pay for all these features out of the box and much more (not even considering the learning curve of learning the quirks of such IDEs individually).

    – For the few that don’t have the time to invest in learning Vim; while extremely exaggerated the difficulty of learning Vim, it can indeed take a lot of time getting plugins that may not even be on Vim.org or Github to fit your existing and new expectations you have for a dev workflow with the use of Vim.

    – Being complacent with a text editor like Sublime for most is almost too easy given how awesome plugin authors in the community have been towards making it have functionality almost as good as an IDE or VIM,

    Overall, Sublime Text 2 is sort of like the PSD of code editors; there’s certainty more effective editors (JetStorm IDEs like WebStorm and RubyMine or Vim) but you can’t deny how much the community behind Sublime Text has made the barriers of entry so low regarding using or being aware of the most essential features one would want from an editor (Better than any text editor in the past until maybe the recently released Atom), that it isn’t surprising why it’s so popular.

  • Hey man it’s just everybody should pick up his own cup of tea.

    • Kayode

      I like netbeans a Lot(it is my best IDE) but the memory it consumes is just too much

  • I hated the terminal plugin and had to remove it because it became a defacto standard to open the last closed tab using ctrl+shift+T and this plugin replace it.

    Perhaps I will see if I can use it again and change its shortcut

    • Hi Admad,

      I already mentioned it in the post that it clashes with the shortcut for opening the last closed tab- you should change the shortcut in the plugin’s preferences.

  • Lykos

    Is there any plugin that keeps History record too? something like the panel in Photoshop.

  • And Predawn, it’s an amazing theme / color scheme for Sublime

  • Since The day I started to use Sublime Text 2, It becomes my favorite editor. Emmetts, Snippets, even SVN also works smoothly with sublime, it is fast, amazing, Love it

  • Piotr Perak

    After few months with Sublime I switched back to VIM. Sublime is most overpriced software ever! It really contains nothing that other editors don’t have.

    • Jacek Wikiera

      Polacy ściągają xD

  • I think it shows a message that the file contents have been changed.

  • Are you talking of the history of files being opened? Or changes in files?

    • Lykos

      ehh .. both cases I guess. I know VCS like Git already do this, but I ‘m mostly interested for keeping history records when editing a file and you want to go back to a previous step while testing.

  • Agreed. However, I skipped color themes in this altogether as I wanted to concentrate on the plugins!

  • Even I was reluctant to start with Sublime until a good friend of mine shifted from VIM to Sublime. I wondered – why not give it a try? And I haven’t used anything else ever since (except when I need a CLI based editor).

  • Well, I haven’t encountered either in Sublime.

    For version control, I prefer Git – always. And I can open the last closed file through Ctrl + Shift + t.

  • Paul

    Over priced !!!!!!!!!!

    • Jono

      I think you’re outraged Paul, I am to! Its actually a very reasonably priced piece of software ;-)

      • Paul

        Irony is meant by over priced!!!!!! From Piotrs comment.

      • IceTheMan

        I have to agree and it is a sad note that to remove the stupid save pop up that you would have to pay 75.00 is just ridiculous. Who would pay that. If this company really wanted to make money charge 10.00 to remove that is reasonable and ya I would probably pay that. I would rather use brackets or deal with popup but brackets is looking very good these days

        • Now, three years after I purchased a Sublime Text license – it was worth every penny. I appreciate the work they’ve done and I use it professionally every day.

  • Thank for terminal plugin, from the 10, that was the only one, I didn’t know.

    here is the a few useful plugins I use, but there is not in this article

    1. SCSS Expander https://sublime.wbond.net/packages/SCSS%20Expander
    Expands the SCSS rule in the current cursor scope.

    2. Gist https://sublime.wbond.net/packages/Gist
    Sublime Text plugin for creating new Gists from selected text

    3. Google Search – https://sublime.wbond.net/packages/Google%20Search

    Search Google for the currently selected text in Sublime Text.

  • Well, you are not required to buy it. Just use and ignore their advertisement. :)

  • A few missing:

    – ApacheConf
    – Autoprefixer
    – Bower
    – CSScomb
    – Composer
    – Dayle Rees Color Schemes
    – LESS
    – nginx
    – SideBarEnhancements
    – SideBarGit
    – SFTP
    – SublimeLinter (and a few SublimeLinter plugins, including SublimeLinter-annotations)

    – TodoReview

    (probably I missed a few others)

    • Goon

      What the free cost stable packages do you know for SFTP?

      • Eugen Weissbart

        I found none.

        Still, you can keep using it for free, it’ll just annoy you every 10 saves with a popup.

        • Bang

          Nice, thanks for anwser!

  • Joel

    Big fan of the Dependents plugin.

  • Цээгий Цэлмэг

    Netbeans != Sublime text

    • Netbeans > Sublime Text

      • teasy

        Now that we have ventured into apples > oranges territory

        Netbeans > Winamp

        Netbeans > MySpace

        Netbeans > JavaBeans

        Netbeans > Buddhism

        Netbeans > Spock

      • Avik B

        and phpstorm > netbeans

        • If you mean price, then sure.

          • Avik B

            price and feature both ;)

          • Tell me, what feature make PHPStorm so much better?

          • Avik B

            debugging & refactoring is better in phpstorm.
            Also using both phpstorm looks better, function better, easy to use.

            Also phpstorm feels more polished than netbeans. You need to give it a try to get it’s reason of why it is better. Refactoring, is one of the main reason i switched to phpstorm, and also use sublime for small tasks.

          • I use both. PHPStorm on Mac (because NB/Java has issues on my Mac), and Netbeans on Windows. Debugging and refactoring are almost identical. In terms of “looks and function” this is a very loose statement.

            What definitve features make PHPStorm so much better?

  • mrobinovich

    So yet another great collection of Sublime Plugins here – http://ipestov.com/the-best-plugins-for-sublime-text/

  • Whooaa nice list, i’ll try: )

  • Mark

    My team swears by SyncR; all of our servers have SSH and we have our keys on them. It’s a single hotkey upload. Plus you can switch between different servers almost instantly. Here’s there setup and usage guide:

  • Kasia Krn

    Thank you for this handy list! At Netguru, we prepared our own set of plugins recommended by developers’ team, check it out: https://netguru.co/blog/11-sublime-plugins-html-developers

  • techs

    is there anyway to make docblockr to generate docs for everything on the page

  • goldewyn

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with that last one.
    Clearly, Spock > Netbeans

    • Captain James T Kirk

      On a lighter note, Mr. Spock, beam these idiots up. hehe

  • Emmet is just the most useful plugin in sublime for rapid prototyping!

  • Michael

    great post!