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Sublime Text 3: First Look

I woke up to a real treat this morning: Sublime Text 3! Sublime Text development has always moved at an incredible pace and now just a few months after 2.0 was released, 3.0 peaks around the corner. ST3 isn’t at the point where it can be your daily editor – you will still be using ST2 for some time – but its exciting to take a look at what ST3 has in store for us!

ST3 is only available to registered ST2 owners, you will be reqired to input your license key upon launch. If you forget where you put your license key, go to Preferences → Browse Packages and then open the settings folder and look for License.sublime_license

What’s new

You can read all the new features over at the Sublime Blog, here are the main features along with some explanation and commentary.

It’s even faster!

Sublime has always been a blazing fast editor and Jon Skinner has outdone himself with this. The editor starts and opens up my last project in less than a second. On OSX the icon doesn’t even reach the top of the bounce before it has loaded.

Python 3.3 & Packages API

Sublime has now switched to Python 3.3. If you aren’t familar, Python is the programming language that Sublime Text uses to expose it’s API. It is how we get all those great packages. Python 3.3 has been out for a while, but many developers have been dragging their heels in upgrading as many of the packages haven’t been ported over. I’m not a Python developer, but according to the Python Wall of Superpowers things are looking better lately.

The downside to this is that most Sublime Text packages will need to be ported to ST2/Python 3.3. The author of Sublime Text says porting to the new API involve minimal work.

Sublime Text package manager doesn’t work yet, but the author Will Bond says work is already underway. Will also has a number of popular packages so I would watch his github, twitter and site for his experiences with porting everything over.

UPDATE: Will Bond has updated package manage to work with Sublime Text 3. See his commend below.

Pane Management

Previously sublime text only allowed you to split your editor into 1-3 columns, 1-3 rows or a grid of 4. This has changed in Sublime Text 3 which exposes controls for splitting panes indefinitely.

I played around with the commands and keyboard shortcuts for a bit but I will be sticking with Origami to manage my panes as I find the commands for moving files splitting panes to be more natural.

Symbol Indexing

ST3 introduces project wide Goto Symbol and Goto Definition. Previously Goto symbol fuzzy search only worked when you specifically noted which file you wanted to look in. In the example above I’m able to see everywhere the post_render function is called in Octopress. This is a really big step up for Sublime that may have a few IDE-lovers jumping ship.

Themes and colour schemes

The UI of Sublime hasn’t changed at all other than a few animations when hiding/showing the sidebar. I’ve tested ST3 with my Cobalt2 theme and color scheme and I’m happy to report that everything worked flawlessly.


Sublime text 3 will go for $70 or a $30 upgrade from ST2 ($15 if you purchased it recently, so don’t hold off buying ST2).  Money extremely well spent.


This is just the beginning of ST3 and I’m excited to see what it has in store for the future. A few things that are on my wishlist:

  • Full blown terminal integration
  • Binary file display  – One thing Coda does really well. If I click an image, I’m able to preview it and get its dimensions.
  • Find/Replace Macros – being able to record a find/replace and play it back or run with arguments would be very handy.
  • Sidebar icons – Sublime excells in its simple interface but having icons for folders/filetypes is something that has always been on my list
  • What is yours? – Post in the comments what you hope Sublime Text 3 will bring

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26 Responses to Sublime Text 3: First Look

  1. skoch says:

    Hopefully the plugin authors will port their stuff to the new version as none will work (especially the Package Manager.) Holding off until this happens!

  2. FLX says:

    I hope that there will finally be a Sidebar API, as this would heavily improve the way that packages can interact with ST.

  3. Jerod Santo says:

    ST3 looks rad, but I’ll probably hold off for more plugin support before I give it a real go!

    Does the Goto Symbol and Goto Definition only work with actual projects or will it also work when Sublime is just opened on a directory tree?

  4. Package Manager has been updated (in alpha form) for ST3. I was able to install it and add syntax def packages so far. http://wbond.net/sublime_packages/package_control/installation#ST3

  5. wbond says:

    Just a heads up for readers. As of ST3 build 3009, Package Control should be working for most users. Check out http://wbond.net/sublime_packages/package_control/installation#ST3 for the install instructions.

  6. Matthieu says:

    Thanks for the Origami reference, just tried it out now and works really well. Unfortunately I don’t see myself adopting ST3 until all packages are ported; that extensibility is what makes ST2 the best text editor. Finally, about your first 2 wishlist items, I would worry that making ST anything other than a text editor would bloat it to hell, as so many projects have before. Have an app do 1 or 2 things well is my motto. Thanks for your write-up!

  7. renghen says:

    I hope that we can get a good pop up window system, this will enable for some cool, auto-complete plugins.

    • Barney says:

      There’s a command line for that. You can get the console to prompt the user ie

      ‘Insert string to match:’

      …or otherwise offer fuzzy-searched commands through the Cmd + P menu.

  8. Minh Man says:

    ST is very usefull editor! I really love this tool, hope book will come soon!
    ST = Superman Typing 🙂

  9. Dan Dineen says:

    I’d really like to see full on drag n’ drop file management in the sidebar. At the moment the sidebar is the weakest aspect of ST 2 – even with the sidebar enhancements package

  10. Mike says:

    I wish a good AutoCompletion feature.
    For example, if im working with Sublime2 + SublimeCodeIntel on a zend framework project the code completion doesnt detect methods of ZF.

  11. Markus Daum says:

    I would love (and that’s an understatement ;-)) to see a function-list side bar or similar added, as suggested here…

    or even combined with the minimap, as suggested here…

    I have just started with Sublime Text 2, and so far I’m loving every bit of it, but the one thing I can’t get over is the fact that it’s missing a sidebar displaying all available functions in the current file. So unfortunately as long as this isn’t added, I can’t really see myself doing some serious development in it, and will sadly return to Eclipse for this.

    ps: if you also feel that this feature might be useful, of course please don’t hesitate to up-vote these suggestions in the 2 links I’ve posted. 🙂

  12. RJ says:

    Wishlist: I hope they really reduce the price of ST3 (or even ST2). $70 a pop is just too expensive. They can probably keep a plug on number of licenses if that’s what it takes.
    As a comparison, I recently purchased a full blown Windows 8 PRO upgrade for $14.99!

  13. Jlee says:

    hi, what font are your using?

  14. Benjamin says:

    It would be great to be able to do a Find and Replace on all open tabs. Geany has ability to do Find and Replace on “Session”. Really love this feature.

  15. anonymous coward says:

    I would really like to see integration with a terminal. I am a Ruby on Rails developer, and I can not run my tests easily inside my environment with the tools as they are. I have to write my tests, then page out to my terminal and run them, just like with any other text editor. I would be nice to be able to run my test in the same place that I write them, because I have a fully functional terminal.

  16. Ermolay Romanoff says:

    is it Soda that makes such big changes to tab & sidebar appearance?

  17. MySchizoBuddy says:

    Any update on what has happened since you wrote this blog post

  18. Matt says:

    Cool article Wes! Just found out about Origami.. such a great plugin!

  19. Thalis Kalfigkopoulos says:

    A seemingly simple feature (Netbeans has it). When user cycles through the open tabs (Ctrl+Tabs), ST goes through them in the order in which they were last visited. When working with 30+ open files and working on a problem that involves 5+ of them, I at least, tend to forget the exact order and have to shift eye focus to the sidebar or title bar to see which one I’ll land in if I release Ctrl-Tab. It would really serve to maintain focus at center & eye-level. This is feasible by showing a small popup while the user does the Ctrl-Tab cycling showing the last N visited tabs most-recently-visited-first, highlighting the one I’ll land on if I release Ctrl-Tab.

  20. Pingback: Can I use ST3 yet? Migrating to Sublime Text 3 | Wes Bos

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