EditPad Pro v5.4.6

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, April 2006
Published by: JG Soft
Requires: Windows 95 or later, any Pentium PC, 16MB free RAM
MSRP: $39.95

Regular readers of Kickstartnews product reviews know that I'm a writer on a quest for the prefect text editor, the perfect file manager and several other perfect products. I haven't found any of them yet, but I get awfully close from time to time. The ultimate text editor challenge is to find a program that can boot my copy of the venerable TextPad off the top of the mountain. EditPad Pro comes close and for some people may absolutely fit the bill. EditPad Pro is designed with both programmers and writers in mind, offering a range of features attractive to both camps.

EditPad Pro, first and foremost, is a typing and data input tool designed to accommodate a range of needs. For programmers, the software has been designed to recognize and highlight programming syntax for a wide variety of languages. Chances are, no matter what programming languages you're using, EditPad Pro can handle the load. Identifying algorithms are present to help with everything from Delphi/Pascal to C#, Python, Perl, PHP, SQL Queries, Java, JavaScript, VB.NET, Eiffel, C++, etc., etc. For pure writers and editors, on the other hand, EditPad Pro offers a clean workspace containing all the typical tools required including robust spell checking, a clip history sidebar, a character map and quick switching between open files. A number of features which are commonly used by both writers and programmers are thoroughly integrated, providing extremely powerful search, search & replace, line numbering and bookmarking.

At first glance, EditPad Pro appears to be a simple editor. But as with all of these more mature products, you've really got to look under the hood to help understand why these editors develop such loyal and dedicated followers and users. As always, it's sometimes the little things that count most. For example, EditPad's Visualize Spaces setting (available in the Options menu) automatically displays a visible character—a vertically centered dot for all white spaces, double angle brackets for tabs—making it easy to eliminate excess white spaces and correct formatting problems. EditPad Pro also features a Block menu selection list which is very handy, among other things, for cutting or copying irregularly formatted blocks of text and symbols.

EditPad Pro also gives a nod to the needs of complex projects being managed or undertaken by programmers and writers. The program has a Project feature which allows you to add and maintain files as a single group. That means you can work on a variety of files needed for a particular project and access all of them as a specific group at any time. You can set up as many projects as you want, and each project can include an enormous number of related files.

Cons: Open document tabs can't be stacked or cascaded, only scrolled, although there is a drop list which lists everything you've got open. This is one of the few areas where EditPad Pro falls down, because I like to see all document tabs at once no matter how many files I've opened in the editor. Fix this and you've got me. Too often, I found myself using the File>Open function to load a file was already in the editor, its tab invisible because it had scrolled out of sight. Text from a PDF file copied using Acrobat Professional could not be reformatted properly. No matter what I tried, all I got was a couple of really long lines with no line breaks, carriage returns or wrapping, which left me with the task of manually reformatting 4,500 words. In EditPad Pro's defense, Acrobat Professional is not known for its editorial friendliness and I was not about to search each and every word to track down the characters responsible for the formatting problems. TextPad handled the copy & paste more effectively, wrapping lines properly albeit without separate paragraphs. Some manual reformatting was required in TextPad as well therefore. Adobe needs to get its act together and correct these basic problems. The workspace state (utility panes or positions) is not saved with each project, nor is it possible to save an independent workspace in the options dialog or by editing the EditPad.ini file directly.

Pros: All I can say is that Helios Software had better be working on a new and better looking version of TextPad which incorporates EditPad Pro's ability to simultaneously display two addins. If not, I'm switching—reluctantly, considering the number of years I've been using TextPad—but switching nonetheless. In EditPad Pro I can simultaneously display the character map and the clipboard history, but in TextPad it's one or the other. EditPad Pro is also more stable when I've got more than a dozen files open at once, displaying none of TextPad's occasionally poor screen redraws and dropped screen characters. I particularly liked EditPad Pro's spell checker and the option to switch to any available Microsoft Office spell checker already installed in the system. The option is especially handy if you've already invested time and effort into customizing your Microsoft Office spell check dictionary (there's simply no need to use two different spell check libraries when one will do). Live, syntax-aware spell checking is also quite nice, with a separate configuration option to turn it on & off. TextPad hasn't had a major update in almost two years, while EditPad Pro author Jan Govaerts is actively releasing regular updates. This review is not meant to be a product comparison, but I can't help notice that JGSoft seems to be more active than Helios. Programmers will love EditPad Pro's intelligent syntax highlighting features and powerful search functions. The editor window is well-buffered and extremely responsive. Having multiple utility panes open at once (e.g., clip history and the character map) is an absolutely essential feature for editors. EditPad Pro is a solid, versatile text editor. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:

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