UltraEdit-32 Professional Text Editor v13

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, March 2007
Published by: IDM Computer Solutions, Inc.
Requires: Windows 98 through XP and Vista, Windows Server 2003, minimal RAM, minimum available hard drive space for installation
MSRP: US$49.95

My favorite text editor has failed me. It shall go unnamed here in deference to long years of loyalty during which I used it to the exclusion of all others, comparing it always favorably to every one of its competitors. Unfortunately, the developers of my favorite text editor just released the latest version to a chorus of boos and pointed questions (none of which have been satisfactorily answered). Forget about that. Let's talk about UltraEdit-32 v13. You read right—version 13. This thing has been around for a long time. I'm reviewing it mainly to determine why it's one of the top five text editors in the world by many accounts, but also to find out if UltraEdit-32 can step up into the not inconsiderable boots once filled by my long time favorite.

UltraEdit-32 has been clearly designed with three groups in mind: programmers, web developers, and writers. That's precisely what I personally need from a text editor—precise handling of programming code, precise handling of XML, HTML, PHP, jscript and other web related formats, and above all else faultless, word processor-like handling of raw research, correspondence, content and everything else related to the creation of text files for any purpose. Those requirements may sound like either a very tall, achievable order or a completely insurmountable obstacle, but the fact is that there are at least half a dozen terrific text editors which to a very great degree meet all of the criteria. Don't ask me why Kickstartnews hasn't reviewed UltraEdit-32 up to now.

For users of previous versions of UltraEdit-32, there are a significant number of changes to the software to make an upgrade seem highly advisable. Integrated scripting support, spell check while typing, and MSI Installer support have been implemented in v13. The program also now provides integrated IE browser support to show active HTML files, nested comments for languages, syntax highlighting support of verbatim string literals, and the search function can now run through all open files in UltraEdit. There's a lot more, but you get the idea. IDM Computer Solutions seems to spend a lot of time on UltraEdit and the company appears to be just as clearly listening to its user base.


At its heart, UltraEdit-32 is a disk-based editing program which means that it only copies enough of a file into RAM as it needs. That means the size of file that you can load into UltraEdit is limited only by the size of your hard drive. To test the program, I installed it on two different computers, one used exclusively for general programming projects and some web page development, the other used exclusively for writing. Neither PC was up to the latest standards: an aging Pentium III/1GHz Windows 2000 Professional machine with 512MB RAM, and a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 running Windows XP Professional with 512MB RAM. UltraEdit-32 Professional installed and ran very quickly and flawlessly on both computers. The hard work that UltraEdit had to do was broken up into three areas: C++ coding, HTML/PHP editing, and review writing (this review was written using UltraEdit).

Programmers of all kinds will love UltraEdit-32. Syntax highlighting is flawless (not unusual for editors in this top class mind you), maintaining professional code formatting, entering tags and the remarkable column-mode editing function all work at the highest standard. Out of the box (or download) UltraEdit is preconfigured for C/C++, Visual Basic, HTML and Java syntax highlighting, but you can freely add syntax highlighting for lots of other languages. Writers will like the speed of the spell checking dictionary as well as the snappy typing response and advanced Find & Replace functions. In particular, you can find something or perform and find & replace not just in the active file but also in any file that's currently loaded in the editor. Anyone who works on projects comprised of several different files will appreciate this sort of functionality.

UltraEdit-32 offers robust file handling and format conversions. Generally, file formats are properly auto-detected. UltraEdit does flawless Unix/Mac to DOS conversion, DOS to Unix conversion, and so on. Unicode seems to have been fully implemented throughout the program as well. Everybody seems to settle on UTF-8 as the default Unicode character encoding and UltraEdit is no different.

The HTML formatting tools are extensive and easy to use. The bottom bar of the UltraEdit window contains no less than 32 separate icons providing everything from direct commands, formatting or insertions (ordered/unordered lists, text attributes, foreground and background colors) to buttons, hidden text fields, anchors, image tags, GUID tags and on and on. UltraEdit is one of the most powerful and easy to use editors for hands-on web developers. Throughout an HTML, XML or PHP coding session for example, code formatting is well controlled and visual clues abound with respect to unclosed tags and other errors. I especially liked HTMLTidy, the built-in code checker which seems to do an excellent job of either validating your code or showing you specific problems in your code by line and column number.

I've written a couple of small utilities in VB over the last few years and UltraEdit does a great job of helping maintain the projects. Similarly, one of my IT staff who regularly works in PHP, C# and Ruby used UltraEdit for about five whole minutes before he declared his love for the thing. All of the reactions to UltraEdit in my office were similarly enthusiastic and positive. Reasons abound. For example, if you regularly work on really large files or projects containing a large number of separate files, you'll appreciate UltraEdit-32's Code Folding feature which allows you to selectively hide or reveal particular sections of code (by line range and function or structure selection). Code folding may not be unique to UltraEdit-32, but it is nicely implemented.

Last but not least, I'm declaring here that UltraEdit is now my writing tool of choice. I need a primary text-based writing tool, but word processors come with far too much overhead and create far too many problems. More important, word processors can't double as code editors on any meaningful level. For pure text writing that is slated for reuse in another format (desktop publishing, web publishing, marketing collateral, editorial submissions and so on), UltraEdit-32 ranks among the very best I've tried over the past 17 years of writing software reviews. I can have file lists, clips, multiple files and a character set open simultaneously on either side of a clean, well rendered text window. I'm going to stick with UltraEdit-32 for the foreseeable future.

Cons: The clip history pane/viewer is essentially a built-in clipboard which can keep track of hundreds of items. The problem with the clip history is that every item in the visible list is given a "File: xxx.xx Size: xxxx" prefix. That means you have to drag the clip history pane to a width which allows you to see the actual items—okay for programmers, but occasionally distracting for pure writers. There are some curious omissions in keyboard assignments shipped with UltraEdit including a word count shortcut (something which writers can't do without). I assigned it to Alt+\. I think the OEM Character Set command (which converts upper case DOS chars to ASCII so they'll display accurately on Windows ANSI systems) should be located on the Format menu rather than the View menu. The default font rendering quality setting is terrible. To fix it go to the Configuration menu, click Editor Display> Advanced and move the slider all the way to the right. Disabling line numbers in the main window also disables the line number part of the continuous line/col count in the lower status bar.

Pros: It looks like the developers of my long time favorite text editor will have to suck it up and figure out, quickly, how to fix their latest version so that it runs properly, provides at a minimum the entire feature set and functionality of the previous version and offers the sort of power that UltraEdit-32 seems to take so easily in its stride. Being able to have multiple documents, plus a character set, file selector/explorer, project list, open file set and clipboard open all at the same time and intuitively accessible is a genuine revelation. Nine clip lists, plus the Windows clipboard, plus the clip history list sidebar mean that it is unlikely you will ever lose so much as a single byte of code or text ever again. Busy online forums at the UltraEdit web site remain an excellent source of technical support and answers to any product questions you can think of. My (former) favorite text editor is rapidly becoming a fond but fading memory. UltraEdit-32 ranks among the top five text editors for Windows. It's extremely versatile, extensively user friendly, remarkably powerful and fast. The "Cons" above are minor. What more could you want? This one is a winner. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:



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