New GNOME Text Editor – Everything You Need to Know

4 min

We give you details about the new default text editor of GNOME – the Gnome Text Editor.

Text editor is an important tool for any Linux distribution or a desktop. You use it almost every day for small to complex tasks while working, studying, etc.

Most of the mainstream Linux desktop have their own text editor that well integrates itself. For example, KDE have Kate or KWrite and GNOME have Gedit.

So, Why a new Text Editor for GNOME?

In the upcoming GNOME 42 version, Gedit may get replaced with a new editor – Gnome Text Editor. The Gedit may not get entirely replaced, however both the editor may co-exist until Gnome Text Editor becomes fully functional and stable.

You might ask why? What is wrong with Gedit? Nothing is wrong in that sense. In fact, Gedit is a very powerful text editor that supports many advanced functionality other than being a simple text editor. We covered some cool features of Gedit here, you might want to take a look.

The primary reason of putting effort to create another text editor is the libadwaita library adaptation which is on going for GNOME Shell. The libadwaita and associated libhandy library provides many advanced GUI features such as animation, UI widgets, built-in dark mode, responsive UI and others.

Adapting libadwaita and its features to an existing application that is running for decades is a complex process. It is cost-effective to develop a brand-new application with the latest libraries than debugging and changing an old application.

The Gedit is a two decade old application, with its first release was on Feb 1999. Now you can comprehend what kind of complexity built in already inside its code base.

GNOME Text Editor

On the first look, GNOME’s new text editor looks exactly the same. This is how it looks (as per the latest version 42 alpha)

GNOME Text Editor
GNOME Text Editor

The first difference you would see in the looks. The title bar, action buttons and fonts are different. And they look neat overall. There is a slight gradient of the logo in the title bar itself, which you may notice. That is cool, indeed.

The Open menu has a search bar with an option to open up the file open dialog. The title bar has the line and column numbers at the top, unlike in Gedit where it was at the bottom.

When you start modifying a file, it gives you a dot instead of an Asterix indicator showing that it has been modified.

In the editor itself, the line numbers are shown on the left side. The context menu is almost the same as Gedit.

At the top right there is no Save button like in Gedit. However, you have two options. The first view button gives you detail settings about the Margin, Indentation, Wrapping and other options.

Menu 1
Menu 1

The main difference is in the hamburger menu and its preference dialog.

The hamburger menu provides the dark and light mode out-of-the-box, and it is accessible from this menu itself. Thanks to the libadwaita library, you can experience it with its default installation without any additional plugins.

GNOME Text Editor - Hamburger Menu
GNOME Text Editor – Hamburger Menu
GNOME Text Editor in Dark Mode
GNOME Text Editor in Dark Mode

The preference dialog is completely new. The new text editor provides the following themes preloaded –

  • Adwaita
  • Kate
  • Tango
  • Classic
  • Solarized Light
Preference Window
Preference Window

Also, some new features such as Grid pattern in the entire editor window, highlighting current line and overview map are nice addition in this editor.

A built-in session restoration behavior is bound to help you when you work in this text editor.

One of the nifty feature is the save as dialog box. It gives you a nice little list of unsaved files with an option to select which ones you want to save. This is, indeed, next level UI design.

New Save Changes Popup
New Save Changes Popup

Comparison to Gedit

If you compare this new editor to Gedit, there are many differences in fact from the feature standpoint. The default Gedit was powerful because of its Plugins. It had plugins for grammar and spelling check, built in Python compiler and many others – and they are part of default installation.

As this editor still in very early stage as of writing this guide, I hope more features drops in. A plugin support is welcome, and if existing Gedit plugins can be used – then nothing like it.

So, that’s about its features. Here’s how you can install.

How to Install (and test)

You can install this using GNOME Nightly Flatpak package. I would suggest you use Fedora Rawhide or any test box to try it out.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists gnome-nightly
flatpak install gnome-nightly org.gnome.TextEditor.Devel
flatpak run org.gnome.TextEditor.Devel//master

Closing Notes

I hope, both Gedit and GNOME Text Editor can co-exist as default packaging in the future GNOME releases. Because, many users already established their workflow with Gedit and its plugins. A new editor is fine in terms of look and feel, but how often you care about how an app looks right?

So, that said, do you like the new Text Editor of GNOME? Let me know in the comment box below.

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