A text editor is one of the programs I spend the most time in, since in my free time I’m working on a code project. Having a comfortable, extensible text editor is important to me.
I’ve been happily using Neovim for the past 1-2 years by now. Before that, while on Windows, I was using Sublime Text around 3 years ago. Back then, I just needed something to code in with some kind of autocomplete. I started using Neovim a while after I moved to Linux and configured it in Vimscript with some simple plugins and things like CoC. I kinda got hooked to programming with Lua and using it for a lot of things (like Hilbish) and moved my Neovim config to Lua.
Pan to around February and I was suggested to try Lite XL. I’ve already heard of Lite (which Lite XL is a fork of) and tried both a year ago but at the time I thought it was lacking for me to use it. But now I daily drive it as my main and only text editor.
The title of this post mentions Lite XL being “a dream close to reality,” since one of the reasons I used Neovim was that since there were no good GUI text editors (except Sublime, but it also has some problems) but Lite XL is attractive for a few reasons:
- Fast and Lightweight GUI text editor
- Lua scripted
- Almost the entire editor is written in Lua itself, which makes it very extensible
The first point could be argued against Sublime, but Lite XL is way lighter than it by default. The C core is tiny, which means I can compile it in half a minute (!). I also mentioned that it is very extensible. With only a couple lines of code, I can put a clock at the corner of the screen. You can draw whatever on the Lite XL window, which brings a lot of creativity. It’s how I made this visualizer plugin.
There’s also a few other plugins, including an LSP. If you need LSP kind icons by the way, I have you covered. The title of this post once again mentions Lite XL being a dream close to reality. There are/were a few problems I’ve encountered. A first thing is graphical bugs due to my scaled screen. Another thing was that there was a few of plugins from the central plugin repository broken. There were a few other minor things, but close to all of these were fixed by using the master branch and using updated plugins.
Lite XL is still fairly new and gets a lot of new additions, like the status view no longer having hardcoded items and positions and instead has a nice API to add, hide and move items. I’ve also contributed a bit, whether that is via discussion, the plugins and pull requests I’ve made, like things to improve syntax highlighting for Go and Markdown.
There’s still quite a few things missing. A lot of the things I had in Neovim I now don’t have with Lite XL. Treesitter, which provided more advanced syntax highlighting, Telescope and Breadcrumbs (they’re a bit helpful and add to the look). LSP plugin doesn’t have a few things like renaming and snippets but generally works well.
Would I recommend Lite XL? Yes, but it really depends on what you want/need. As mentioned, the extensiblity, speed and lightness are the main selling points but with a small ecosystem it just means if something quite general doesn’t exist, you’ll have to make it yourself, and anything niche is off the table. Atleast there’s a Vim mode plugin.