Nothing is perfect, so we never award perfect scores. But this rule was sorely tested in our review of powerful text editor UltraEdit 16.
Even the easy criticism, "May be too overwhelming for some users," is mitigated by UltraEdit's built-in environments that trim the toolbars, menus, and options down to a narrow subset for some or explode them into full complexity for others, and switching between these configurations takes a mouseclick or two.
UltraEdit is a text editor primarily aimed at programmers, but with a rich feature set that makes it of interest to anyone who works primarily with unformatted (no font/bold/alignment/etc) text. This includes anyone who does shell scripting, edits hex files, works with PHP or XML, or marks up documentation for TeX, among a thousand other possible tasks. Since a number of freeware text editors (such as Notepad++) are becoming extremely feature-rich, UltraEdit has to really work to be worth paying for.
The syntax highlighting/code aware feature deserves a special mention. While many programs now perform basic syntax highlighting, UltraEdit is supported by a community which has produced format/structure files for over 600 different languages or formats, from the obvious to the obscure. Even if some of these are out of date or don't support the newest features of UE, it's an amazing resource.
(For a real-world example, I've been given some code from powerful statistics package SAS. It took me under a minute to configure UltraEdit to become SAS-aware.) Further, UltraEdit does a lot with this information, including bracket matching, code folding, and plucking variables and parameters from function definitions.
If I'm obligated to say at least one negative thing, I'll note the "Compare" feature will pop up a dialog box to shill for UltraCompare, the full-featured diff tool made by IDM, and the help file includes references to features only found in UltraStudio, which expands the text editor into a full-featured development environment. Unlike some other programs I've worked with, however, you do not find yourself clicking on a function or option only to be told it's not included or active. If you see a button or menu item in UltraEdit, it will work.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>