Posts Tagged ‘Bluefish’

Bluefish Advanced Editor Review

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Bluefish Editor Features Review

Bluefish is a programmer’s text editor. Bluefish is free, open source and cross-platform (Mac, Windows and Linux).

This review is based on features I require of an advanced text editor. A list of required features was created after using different editors. Some features require extensions or plug-ins.

Bluefish is a free text editor from There are downloadable packages for Linux, Mac and Windows systems. Bluefish can easily be extended by plug-ins to ease application development in different programming languages.

Test Tools

    Test system:

  • CPU: Intel(R) i7 2600 @ 3.40GHz.
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3.
  • Operating System: Debian Jessie Testing 64bit.
  • Desktop: Xfce Desktop Environment 4.10.

    Test suite:

  • Large file: 1GB human-readable text.
  • Regex file: text with word “Bluefish” repeated.
  • Syntax file: PHP file containing HTML, CSS & JavaScript.
  • Media file: Smiley face JPEG file.
  • Bluefish: Version 2.2.4 64bit

    Test Score:

  1. Each feature has two parts
  2. Score of zero indicates missing feature
  3. A part of a feature is worth a score of 0.5

Three bias elimination steps were utilized. The editor was used for at least three years on different platforms. Attempts were made to get stable plug-ins for missing features. The same editor was compared between the one in the repository, the developers website, and the compiled version if applicable.

Selecting Editor Version

Bluefish was installed from the Debian repository. Bluefish and its plug-ins do require GTK2 and Python runtime dependencies. Bluefish needs re-installation every time I change my distribution unless it is built from source.

Bluefish was installed in the system folder and was never available for other installed Linux distributions. All plug-ins also require re-installation.

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Bluefish Multiple Editor View


The theme can be native for the editor in terms of the background. Bluefish dark and light themes can be created or downloaded. The score for the theme was a perfect 1.0.

Dragging and dropping a text file into the editor opens a new tab which requires the Buffer Tabs plugin. It is not possible to specify the tab location during the drag and drop operation. The score for drag and drop into editor was 0.5.

Opening a very large text file crashed Bluefish. Bluefish did not save the session and was not able to edit the large file. The score for opening a large file was 0.0.

Multiple documents can opened in multiple tabs. Tear-off tabs do not work by opening in new window as a new instance which is handy for multiple monitors. The score for multiple documents was 0.5.

Multiple editors can be opened as new tabs with drag options. The window view can be split horizontally seperately for each tab and not in a multiple editor view. The score for multiple editor view was 0.5.

Creating non-project files is possible. Non-project files can be opened by the drag and drop operation. The score for creating non-project files was a perfect 1.0.

Soft word wrap can be enabled on all documents as word wrap. Automatic soft wrap for documents is available from the Bluefish settings. The score for word wrap was a perfect 1.0.

Spell check does not work as words are typed. Spelling errors are shown in opened documents. The score for spell check was 0.5.

Word count is available for Bluefish. Selection word count is available as part of word count. The score for word count was a perfect 1.0.

Go to line can jump to a specified line. It is possible to jump to either the first or last line. The score for go to line is a perfect 1.0.

Indentation can default to user-defined tab stops. Children are automatically indented. The score for indentation was a perfect 1.0.

Fonts can be dynamically scaled. The system font can be bypassed and a new editor font and size can be set. The score for fonts was a perfect 1.0.

Find and replace using regular expressions can be utilized for all open documents in the current session. Find and replace will work for the current document or a selection in the current document. The score for find and replacing using regular expressions was a perfect 1.0.

Multiple language syntax highlighting in one file is enabled if the language plug-ins are installed. Each language has code-sensitive syntax colours which can be modified. The score for multiple language syntax highlighting was a perfect 1.0.

Code folding works for markup languages such as HTML. Code folding also works for programming languages such as PHP and Java. The score for code folding was a perfect 1.0.

Selecting rectangular block per column does not work. Rectangular block selection does not work with word wrap enabled. The score for selecting rectangular block was 0.0.

Multiple selection is not available for Bluefish. Search multiple selection is not available. The score for multiple selection was 0.0.

Distraction-free mode to hide panes works. Line numbers can be toggled to improve distraction-free mode. The score for distraction-free was a perfect 1.0.

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Bluefish Distraction-free

The file manager can to create and delete folders. Media files can be dragged and dropped into the file manager pane. The score for file manager was a perfect 1.0.

Terminal feature is not available for Bluefish. The terminal does not follow folder of the file browser. Terminal can not execute system commands. The score for terminal was 0.0.


Bluefish is a very powerful text editor. By default, the Bluefish editor is missing required features which can be installed by using extensions. For my required features, the Bluefish editor scored 70.0% or 7.00 out of 10.


Bluefish is a very powerful text editor. Basic editor features are missing in Bluefish. Important editor features require Bluefish plug-ins. Overall Bluefish only scored 7.00 out of 10 for essential text editor features.

Bluefish can use and render native theme and fonts. Bluefish has one of the fastest file managers available for any editor. The scroll and select features of Bluefish were some of the best available for any editor.


  1. Look for required plug-ins before deciding to try Bluefish.
  2. Download desired Bluefish editor themes.
  3. Install Bluefish from your distribution repository if applicable.

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Review Bluefish Editor Video 0014

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

A Video for the Review Lightweight Programming Editors article.
Part One of One


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Review Lightweight Programming Editors

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Fast platform neutral editors

Writing code should not be complicated.  The only requirements are your imagination and any text editor.  Text editors range from word processors and Integrated Development Environments (IDE) to simple command line edit tools.


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