Bright Rocket

Fly Smart!

A blog about design, business and life.

Switching to Sublime 2 for Expression Engine Development

Posted on January 21st 2012 to ExpressionEngine

Like many designer/developers using Windows as their OS, I've been using the very solid Notepad++ for Expression Engine development but I never really fell in love with it. To be honestf, one of the main reasons I disliked it was how damn ugly it was. It's 2012 and I think that most of my software should actually look good or at least not actively ugly. I wanted something that made me feel like the software and I were working together to create something as if I was playing in a band and I was strumming away on my guitar rather than blowing away at a tuba (no offense band geeks).

After a few Google searches, I stumbled across this thread on EE's forums, discussing various text editors and options. I tried E-Text Editor, but found it's startup time a little slow and its UI just a little limiting. Next I tried Sublime 2, and this is where things seemed to click. What struck me right away was that it's defaul them and UI was sparse, almost mac-like. There's a screenshots below to give you an idea for the look and feel.

The things features that stood out the most were;

  • Speed, Sublime was fast to launch and fast to navigate via keyboard once I put in some time to learn the shortcuts. I think it meets Notepad++'s speed, which has spoiled me.
  • The trial period (yes this is commercial software) is unlimited, which lets you demo it for 30 days, after which a purchase prompt pops up on occasion (I think when saving). This is important as I think you really need to try out text editors for awhile before you decide what fits for you.
  • It's tabs felt like Google Chromes', meaning the tab handling was very similar. I could open multiple files (in several columns on the main UI) and drag them between each column, or between two distinct instances of Sublime in separate windows, or drag it completely off the main window to create another instance of Sublime. This was all lightning fast, just like in Google Chrome.
  • Possibly most importantly, it has an Expression Engine bundle available
  • An awesome Photoshop Navigator-like Minimap, which shows the code on your screen as a thumbnail you can click and drag through.
  • Multi Select - Choose several words on several lines and change them all at once!
  • Projects, which allow me to define a set folder (or folders) to be opened up. The project is saved as a configuration file in my project folder, so I can always find it when needed and really helps when I switch from project to project
  • Windows/Mac/Linux compatabile, so if/when I change to the Mac OS, I won't have to switch programs

To be honest, it also lacks a few things I'm hoping to replace

  • No DIF (code comparison) function
  • No built in ftp/sftp support (but there's a commercial addon available here that I'm going to test)

Now while no editor is perfect, Sublime 2 has excellent preference control (if you don't mind editing a text file for those more nit-picky things). I found some of the tips at 72 lions to be pretty useful, including the ability to draw a border around the Minimap so it stands out a bit more, and the ability to highlight a line, so be sure to check that out.

My plan is to start posting some simple tips for Sublime users over the coming months as I slowly start to use more and more of the features available. I think for designers, advanced text editors can be a little daunting if you are more comfortable in GUI based programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. There's a great reliance on remembering sometimes complex shortcuts and buried menus.

I hope you found this brief overview helpful and I really encourage you to try Sublime 2 out for yourself for a week or two. If you have a favorite tip, please do share it in the comments!


Default theme and folder listing

And Launch!

Posted on January 15th 2012 to Business

I'm very excited to be able to say Bright Rocket's new site is now live! A project squeezed in during my holiday vacation and finished up over a few late weeknights and weekends, this has been a long time coming.

I want to thank my friend Lea for early feedback of some of the design, my wife Lei Bai for helping me with the About section of the site (new profile picture coming soon) and my Nutmeg bosses, Russ Cormier and Chris Shipley for helping me get Bright Rocket off the ground.

One of the aspects I'm most excited about is finally having a blog again, where I'll start to post my thoughts, tips and links regarding business and design as well as in-depth case studies of some of my client work. I've always been a big believer in giving back to the design and ExpressionEngine communities and hopefully this is the first of many steps.

ExpressionEngine Tip: Using Low Title to generate dynamic titles

Posted on January 14th 2012 to ExpressionEngine

While I'm sure most EE developers have already been doing this. I wanted to share this for anyone just getting started using Low's awesome Low Title addon. This is an improvement on Veerle's method in that I'm not using the entry tags so it should be a good deal more efficient.

I'm using conditionals in combination with Low Title to test a segment, then either insert a new static segment or if the segment equals "blog" I'll pull the entry title. I'd like to move from the inbuilt IF statements to Switchee when I get a moment as well.

		{if segement_1 == "about"}
			About Bright Rocket - Web Design and Expression Engine Development

		{if:elseif segment_1 == "blog"}
			Fly Smart! {if segment_3}- {exp:low_title:entry url_title="{segment_3}"}{/if}-

		{if:elseif segment_1 == "work"}
			Our Work -

		{if:elseif segment_1 == "contact"}
			Contact Bright Rocket -
			Welcome to Bright Rocket - Awesome Web Design and Expression Engine Development