UPDATEJanuary 23, 2024

Why We're Building CodeEdit: A Natively-built Code Editor for the Mac

It might sound crazy, but we are determined to build an editor native to macOS written in Swift, by the community, for the community. Completely open source and free forever.
Austin Condiff user imageAustin Condiff
CodeEdit Welcome Window

Most code editors today are built on cross-platform frameworks and technologies that often fall short in fully leveraging the capabilities of macOS and taking full advantage of system resources. There's a significant gap in the market for a truly native code editing experience on macOS. CodeEdit is our answer to this gap.

While Xcode does provide a native experience, it's tailored specifically for development on projects for Apple's platform, leaving a void for those working on projects outside of this ecosystem or in support of it.

Our goal is to offer a familiar, intuitive editing experience to developers working on projects outside Apple's ecosystem.

The Benefits of a Native macOS Code Editor

Unmatched Performance

By utilizing macOS's native capabilities, CodeEdit offers a level of performance that editors that run on cross-platform technologies such as Electron or the JVM can't match. This means faster load times, smoother operation, and better resource management.

A Familiar, Intuitive Interface

Staying true to Apple's human interface guidelines, CodeEdit provides an environment that feels intuitive and familiar to macOS users. It's designed to feel like an extension of macOS, not just another third-party application.

The intention is to help developers stay focused and connected to the code being written by building an application where the UI simply melts into the background and allowing developers to interact with their code in new ways. The best UI is invisible and we think that by conforming to the design patterns Apple has put into place, we can achieve just that.

Scalability and Flexibility

From lightweight text editing to handling complex development tasks, CodeEdit is scalable. It combines the simplicity of TextEdit with the power of Xcode, ensuring a flexible environment that adapts to your needs. We plan on building an extention ecosystem so that users can extend CodeEdit as needed.

Our Story: How it all began

In the world of software development, necessity is often the mother of invention. This is precisely the case with CodeEdit, a project that began not in a boardroom, but from a developer's personal challenge and a vision for something better. Here's how this groundbreaking idea came to life.

A Personal Project Born From Frustration with Existing Tools

My journey with CodeEdit started as a personal quest to enhance my existing editor. I began by customizing VS Code, trying to give it a macOS-native feel. This involved writing custom CSS and applying it to VS Code after each update. However, this was far from a perfect solution and by no means scalable.

What if there was an editor that could harness the full potential of the Mac while offering a native experience?

At around the same time, the limitations of VS Code were becoming increasingly apparent. I would encounter hangs, crashes, and various performance issues that interrupted my workflow. These frustrations led me to a pivotal question: "What if there was an editor that could harness the full potential of the Mac while offering a native experience?"

From Mockups to Movement

This question didn't remain hypothetical for long. I started by experimenting with a few designs to explore how this might look. These mockups rapidly evolved into a comprehensive user flow comprising 20-30 designs. The more I designed, the more the vision of a native macOS code editor took shape.

I couldn't keep these ideas to myself. I shared my designs on social media, sparking a conversation about the need for a more general-purpose code editor for macOS. The underlying thought was simple yet powerful: If Microsoft could create something as successful as VS Code, why couldn't Apple, or the community, build a code editor native to macOS?

Despite reaching out to several Xcode engineers at Apple and learning that direct assistance wasn't forthcoming, I was encouraged to embark on an open-source journey. This challenge was daunting, especially as a JavaScript developer new to Swift. Nevertheless, I was determined to give it a shot.

I started with a simple "Hello World" application resembling a code editor's layout. Accompanied by a readme explaining our goals and mission, this humble beginning was the seed that would grow into something much larger.

When I shared the repository on social media, the response was overwhelming. The project resonated with the developer community, amassing over 5,000 stars in just a few weeks. Contributions started flowing in, with developers from around the world submitting pull requests.

Now, CodeEdit stands as one of the most starred repositories written in Swift on GitHub. Our journey from a set of mockups to a community-driven open-source project exemplifies the power of collaboration and shared vision.

The Future is Bright

As CodeEdit continues to grow and evolve, we're more committed than ever to our mission of keeping it open source, free forever. We're not just building a code editor; we're creating a community, a movement.

So sure, it might sound crazy, but in the words of a timeless tribute to innovators:

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things - they push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Apple, "Think Different" Campaign, 1997

This ethos is at the heart of CodeEdit. We started as a group of 'crazy ones', united by a shared vision. Today, we stand together as a community, forging ahead to change the world of code editing on macOS.

Whether you're a developer, a designer, or simply someone who believes in the power of open-source software, together we can make something truly special. Join us in this journey of innovation and collaboration.

About the Author

Austin Condiff user image

Austin Condiff

Dallas, TX

I create simple & effective user interfaces and interactive experiences. I organized and am currently working on @CodeEditApp.