13 reasons to use of Sublime Text over Dreamweaver

17 March, 2014 by Tom Elliott

I started writing this post over a year ago but back then it was entitled something along the lines of ‘Reasons why I use Dreamweaver over code editors’. This was biased, as I hadn’t properly explored other code editors like Coda, Sublime Text or Notepad++. So, wanting to write an objective post from a web developers point of view, and because I had heard many good things about it, I setup Sublime Text 2 and dove straight in. I’m glad I did because it quickly became obvious that my presumed reasons for Dreamweaver’s superiority were just wrong.

We are all creatures of habit to a greater or lesser degree and when we develop workflows to help make our lives easier, we can get entrenched in the view that these honed practices are superior. It’s not our fault, confirmation bias is supposedly programmed in our DNA. Even so, it’s healthy to try and keep questioning and challenging ourselves, especially in the fast moving web industry.

So now that I have been using Sublime Text (V2) code editor for over a year, I feel I can approach this subject matter much more objectively. This isn’t a Dreamweaver bashing post and nor do I want to sound all preacher-like. After all, Dreamweaver had served me well for the best part of a decade… right back to the days it was called Ultradev and owned by MacroMedia (I bet few remember that!).

Enough preamble! Onto my top reasons why I like to use Sublime Text instead of Dreamweaver and why I think other web developers should give it a try.

1. Key Strokes

One of the things I used to love about Dreamweaver was the way I could just drag and drop assets, an image for example, direct into code view and voilà! I have a fully formed IMG tag complete with dimensions and URL.

I had this notion that code editors meant you had to type most of this stuff out longhand but I was wrong. Things like fuzzy search, tag completion and plugins (more on all this later) are optimised to reduce key strokes and our reliance on the mouse.

Fingers blurred typing keyboard

Take a basic ‘copy’ command for example. We all know (I hope!) the shortcut keys to copy something in any program. It’s two keystrokes and done in a single movement. The mouse equivalent has four separate movements: 1) Move the mouse to ‘Edit’, 2) Click ‘Edit’ 3) Move the mouse to ‘Copy’ and finally (after all that work!) click ‘Copy’.

It sounds pendantic I know, but any repetition of tasks that can be easily done through keystrokes is going to save us a lot of time vs using the mouse, especially when we consider how often we may use these commands throughout the day. This is one of the biggest advantages of Sublime Text over Dreamweaver… the program feels like it has been built around the developer and engineered to reduce keystrokes and mouse reliance.

2. Multiple cursors

One of Sublimes great features that Dreamweaver doesn’t have is multiple cursors. This is great for making multiple edits or inserts in your code at the same time. For example:

Multiple cursor selection in sublime

Multiple cursors in Sublime Text

Note: Shortcuts shown are PC based. Mac users need to use Cmd instead of Cntrl

3. Shortcuts

There are hundreds of useful shortcuts in Sublime Text for commands that don’t exist in Dreamweaver. Shortcuts for things like tag wrapping, line duplication and bracket selection to name just a few.

Even after a year, I’m still discovering new shortcuts that help make me a more efficient coder and if a command doesn’t have a key binding, it’s easy to assign one.

4. Fuzzy search

This is another great advantage Sublime Text has over Dreamweaver. Pretty much everything is based around ‘fuzzy’ searching. A fuzzy search means you only need to enter a few key characters and Sublime Text will try and match these with a list of what it thinks are the most relevant commands.

For example, in the command palette, typing ‘IP’ will bring up the ‘Install Package’ command. In CSS, typing ‘bco’ will bring up the ‘background-color’ declaration.

command-palette-fuzzy-search

Fuzzy searching in Sublime Text Command Palette

5. Code preview

One Sublime feature that can be pretty useful is the condensed preview of your code layout, especially for large pages. This allows you to quickly view and select areas of your code based on its overall shape and structure.

Sublime Text code preview view

Image showing Sublime’s code preview view on the right

6. Bracket and div highlighting

Ever find yourself wading through big chunks of code in Dreamweaver trying to locate that closing div or bracket? This is a problem easily avoided in Sublime because of the way it highlights opening and closing brackets, divs and other tags.

Even if you can’t see the closing tag, Cntrl + M will let you skip to it.

7. Bookmarking

Bookmarking is another one of those great features that you don’t know you’re missing out on until you start using it. While there are plenty of good ways in Sublime to skip to specific areas of code (such as got to line number Cntrl + G or go to next bracket Cntrl + M), bookmarking allows you to set specific way points for even faster access.

Using the command Cntrl + F2 sets a bookmark and F2 will skip through each bookmark specified.

8. Plugin Community

Sublime Text has a huge and active plugin community and with thousands of plugins available, any features you may miss from other text editors are likely to exist in the Sublime plugin repository.

The AutoFileName plugin for example allows you to quickly insert the ‘src’ of an img tag, or insert the file path in a stylesheet link with just a few key strokes.

Furthermore, the vast majority of plugins are open source and can be installed in a matter of seconds through the Sublime Package Manager. Conversely, Dreamweaver plugins are largely paid for and have to be installed via the separate extension manager program.

Checkout my ‘Top Sublime Text plugins‘ article for a better idea of some great plugins available.

9. Configurability.

So many aspects of Sublime Text can be configured to levels not available through Dreamweaver.

You can install custom themes to change the GUI and code colours for example. Plugins and key bindings allow you to improve your coding process and the splitting code editor window allows you to work on different files side by side (Alt + Shift + Number).

Window splitting in Sublime

Splitting the code view into 2 different windows

10. Sublime requires less resources

Firing up task manager, I see Sublime Text takes up about 40MB of memory vs over 100MB in Dreamweaver. This is hardly surprising as Dreamweaver comes loaded with all the GUI and other tools that allows for a more drag and drop approach to web development. For most, this won’t be an issue but it does mean Sublime should run smoother on older machines.

11. Lightning fast loading

Sublime Text fires up in less than a second. Dreamweaver however, for the reasons mentioned in the previous point, takes at least 12 seconds on my machine, making it feel heavy and cumbersome.

12. Better stability

I’ve been using Sublime for over a year and can’t remember a single crash in that time. Dreamweaver on the other hand, in various versions, seems to be plagued with JavaScript errors and frequent freezes.

13. Pricing.

If reasons 1-12 was not enough to convince you to try switching Dreamweaver for Sublime Text, then perhaps the price tag will. A single license for Sublime Text will set you back a mere $70.. and you can trial it indefinitely for free. Dreamweaver though will set you back nearly $400 for the full CS6 version.

Advantages of Dreamweaver over Sublime?

Like I said before, this isn’t a Dreamweaver bashing article. In fact I still occasionally fire up Dreamweaver from time to time when creating HTML emails as I find it easier to assemble more complex, nested table based layouts, which can be otherwise quite time consuming to manually code.

If you’re more of a designer and less familiar or interested in getting directly involved with code then Dreamweaver might be a better tool for you. Things like initial document setup, various UI elements and Dreamweaver’s drag and drop approach in design view are engineered to help website creation without even touching a line of code. This is where Dreamweaver’s main strengths lie.

I’m sure there’s plenty more reasons why Sublime Text can be a better tool than Dreamweaver for web developers (or vice versa!) so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂



32 Comments

  • Black Thorn says:

    Sublime is great but Coda 2 is my go to coder as with the work I do I tend to need to make quick changes on the fly and it allows me to edit files on the server. I know it’s not the advised way to do things but it just works for me 🙂

    • Tom Elliott says:

      Cool, yeah Coda isn’t an editor I’ve really tried but I bet it works better than Dreamweaver in many of the ways Sublime does! At the end of the day, there’s no ‘correct’ editor – just editors that make our lives easier 😛

  • Beth says:

    I’ve been using Dreamweaver for coding and I’m just starting to try out Sublime. I do like that Dreamweaver has FTP built into program (because I hate mozilla).. that was my main reason for sticking with it and I like that it auto completes closing tags… but I also appreciate that Sublime is tidier and I wasn’t aware of many of things you noticed. I’m gonna check out the features, thanks!

  • Christo says:

    If your still using Dreamweaver when theres Sublime, Atom and Netbeans available for free you are insane.

    If your still using FTP in 2014 instead of GIT you need a straight jacket.

    • Daniele Brunengo says:

      Mmmmm, I don’t think so. I think if someone likes DW, they should use it. And if someone is used to ftp, they can use it with no need for a straitjacket. That’s what 2014 should be all about, freedom of choice. Sadly, it’s not.

    • Robert Baker says:

      Put me in a straight jacket then, because if I need to make a quick change to a live site…having to use Git for this and then deploy to the live site is just too many steps.

      I only like to use Git for theme development and improvements.

      If Sublime had a nice Local/Testing/Remote file viewer window like DW (and to some extent Notepad++) I would switch in a heartbeat.

      The one advantage I do love about Sublime is tabbed line viewing. DW does not handle tab code as well as other editors.

    • Sarila says:

      Higher-up’s where I work require us to use FTP and SVN, so I’ll need 2 straight jackets for each person part of that decision -.-‘

      Oh wait, it gets even more fun than double work. There’s a separate 3rd thing we use to actually push changes live to production, the SVN+FTP is only for dev. Said production changes system uses Lotus Notes. In 2017. I think I’m going to run you out of straight jackets.

  • Adam says:

    Sublime is awesome! Mark, you are spot on with the SFTP plugin, I use it daily. Another awesome plugin is Browser Refresh, bet you can’t guess what that does 😉

  • Bill says:

    Sublime is nice, but has not been updated in over half a year. Seems like it might be on its way out.

  • Fabio Dias says:

    Totally agree. I’m a long term Dreamweaver user (since Macromedia era). For coding JS and HTML Sublime Text is WAY better, it’s lightweight and doesn’t have useless features and windows popping in the screen (like DW).

  • Demi Urgen says:

    I agree that Sublime Text is a great tool. However i still prefer Dreamweaver over Sublime for these reasons.
    -DW has a better color theme and sets different colors on different type of elements like form elements, table elements, the link element etc.
    -Sublime doesn’t seem to have a list of attrubutes popping up whenever you press space inside the start-tag.
    -Sublime doesn’t support color themes on html 5 elements. They are just black text.
    -The end-tag is placed in for you. In DW I can choose where to put the end-tag.

  • Nice! I’m also dreamweaver fan and I’ve been using sublime with a theme “dreamweaver” to stay within familiar environment look and feel. Some of the advantages you mentioned are great, thanks for sharing with us.

  • Thomas says:

    Dreamweaver’s Search & Replace is superior to Sublime Text. I switch to DW sometimes just to use that, it’s very intuitive and fast. I don’t like typing syntax into the Where input field in ST, that only increases the chance of making a mistake. In DW I can simply select all files in the site I want to target. Much better IMHO.

  • Jahidul says:

    I like dreamweaver’s search and replace feature. Search in all files of a project. And also presentation of search result is more useful then subime text.
    Though sublime has a feature to search in folder but it’s search result is difficult to choose one. Search results shows too much texts , I need to search again in result page. When I click on a line on search result it opens that file in new tab, if I don’t find my actual need on that file then I need back to the search result tab and click again on another result.

    on other hand dreamweaver shows search result in a new pan window. I don’t need to run through tab to tab. I just clik on a results one by one. Itss search results is clean and short.

  • Nick says:

    I have used many text editors and Dreamweaver. For some odd reason I always go back to Notepad++. I will probably never change. It seems most people tend to stick with what they started out using (unless you started in the early days with few options).

  • My favorite editor is Codelobster: http://www.codelobster.com
    It has very good auto-complete and works very fast.

  • Robert says:

    Unfortunately a lot of my work is via FTP still, instead of Git and Local Development. I would love to use Sublime if it had a better FTP. Using FTP in Sublime with the SFTP Addon is driving me crazy.

    If anyone knows of a nice FTP solution to Sublime I would gladly use it over DW.

  • Arp Laszlo says:

    I *love* Coda but am switching back to PC. Sublime Text kicks DW’s butt, except for not having file syncing/sftp capabilities out of the box. I’m guessing there’s a plugin for it?

  • Joel says:

    The ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste is native on dreamweaver since i tried for the first time (macromedia dreamweaver 8) and still using DW CC 2015 at the moment.
    it highlight closing tag when u are over the opening one and vice-versa too.
    You can wrap and unwrap code by simply clicking on little “arrow” next the code line number (dont even know if there are any key combination to do that job).

    Finally, multiple cursors are useless when you begin to use regex (regular expressions) because its even more fast to use, also DW lets you make an important job with ctrl+f.
    you can search and replace anything with anything using regex or not (i think sublime lets you do the same), and there are usefull search options. on highlighted text, on some folder, on all site* etc.

    DW gives you access to all functions that you need to install and configure with plugins on sublime.

    EMMETS: another way to make multiple cursor useless, simply write
    ul>li>lorem*10
    and let the magic begin. (hope there are emmets on sublime too).

    ctrl+space lists commands that includes (or start) with the chars you are writing (usually DW make that job auto by default without needing to press ctrl+m)

    Anyway there are two big titans of coding software, and its known that sublime is fastest than DW. The only reason for me to use DW is FTP sync, specially when you work in group, DW sends you warning when someone modifies some that you have opened, when you try to download from server etc. It makes your working life easier making you to not want to punch some work mate =)

    When sublime includes same sync functionallity i’m downloading it for sure (if all shortkeys that i’m used to use are included). Anyway sorry but its not powerfull enough.

    PD: DW’s inteliSense gives you a large dictionari of commands in loads of languages, loads more than sublime (at least last time i used sublime)
    *intelisense = when you press CTRL+M or simply begin to type and codifier gives u related code options.

    Regards.

  • IndraWahid says:

    i prefer to dreamweaver. because it’s so easy to make a web than from code editor such as sublime that you’re talking about.
    by the way thank you for the information.

    regards,
    indrawahid

  • Henning says:

    I miss MacroMedia 😉

  • Daniele Brunengo says:

    I know it’s late, but I’d like to chime in. Been using Sublime for years, but the latest version of Dreamweaver is really great for coders. I am now splitting my projects between the two, because I can’t decide.

  • Mario says:

    Now, 3 years later, with the Dreamweaver CC 2017.0.1 with bootstrap and brackets, what do you think? Have you tried it?

  • Amy Gilbert says:

    Dreamweaver has added Emmet and some other shortcuts and power features. It also has added it’s own local testing server feature that lets you view your site in a browser of your choosing and will update upon save. It’s like BrowserSync. But again, BrowserSync is free so why not use that.

    It’s still not as powerful as Sublime or Atom. I use Atom because it’s completely free and has all the features of Sublime and many plugins for anything that isn’t built in.

    I have Dreamweaver anyway because of other products I use from the CC collection so I won’t get rid of it for now, but at $20 a month stand-alone, I would not pay for it when there are better products out there for free or almost free.

  • What other editor is there that can match the search and replace on Dreamweaver? Anyone know one that makes it so simple?

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    css.php