Koding in Kate

I’ve recently been preparing to begin looking for my first programming job. As such I’ve been reading a number of “what employers are looking for” type posts. A while ago I read a comment that one interviewer asks candidates what IDE(ditor) they use and uses that information, along with some other things I consider just as trivial to judge candidates. Remembering that post (I think it was in comments on a reddit submission, but I’m not sure) led me to write this one.

I use Kate and I’m proud of it.

Yes Kate, the KDE Advanced Text Editor. Kate is more than a text editor but not quite an IDE, yet is very versatile. From what I’ve read Kate is not used very much by developers, I personally love it and here’s a few reasons why…

Kate works with just about anything I’ve thrown at it:

I do a decent amount of Scheme development and Kate does a surprisingly good job at both highlighting and indenting Scheme. Parenthesis are colored at all times and are highlighted as a matching set when the cursor is over them. It is one of the few editors that I have used that not only works adequately well with Scheme but also has a modern interface and handles other languages very well.

I also do a lot of Python, and Kate has phenomenal support for that. When I did projects in C, Javascript, HTML and even plain text files, Kate supported them well. Kate might not be the best at any one thing, but since it’s usually close to the top, I don’t have to waste any time learning yet another editor/IDE just because I’m doing a project in a new language. Even though it doesn’t take that long, I’d rather focus on developing (and writing blog posts about my editor).


Kate has really good support for sessions. You can choose to have your last session open automatically, or use a Kate launcher that lets you choose sessions. Any files you open will be automatically saved to the current session (unless you’re using the anonymous session feature). I rarely “use” sessions in Kate they just do their thing with little interference from me, except for the occasional “Sessions” -> “Quick Open Session”.

Tabs, Documents and the File Manager

Managing the documents in your current session is both easy and customizable. There is a toolbar on the left hand side that has both an open documents manager and a filesystem browser. Both are easy and intuitive to use, but if that’s not enough there are extensions that offer tabs as well. In fact there are two, an older extension “Tab Bar” and a newer and sleeker looking “Tabify”.

Terminal and External Tools

Most of the languages that I use have some sort of REPL. In almost all these cases using the REPL from the command line is not only easy, but is “the way to do it”. Kate offers an embedded terminal that allows quick testing of code snippets in a REPL*. In addition the terminal can be set to auto-sync with the current document, which comes in handy in a number of situations.

With External Tools, Kate can be set up to compile/execute your files just about any way you see fit. External tools can be used for lots of other scripting tasks too, though I haven’t played with it much and can’t comment further.

Find and Regular Expressions

Kate has a pretty powerful search/replace feature including highlighting of all found terms. It’s not just for the document you have open though, Kate can search through multiple files or the entire hard drive if you want. You can also type your query as a regular expression giving you that much more power to find what you’re looking for.

Code Folding, Bookmarking and Split Views

Common IDE features such as code folding and bookmarking are also present in Kate. You can also split the view pane of the editor, horizontally or vertically, allowing multiple documents to be viewed and edited at once.

Shortcuts and VI mode

Just about every command in Kate can be set as a keyboard shortcut. This makes things like the terminal plugin feel right at home. In addition there is also a VI mode that provides Vi(m) like editing. Though not 100% compatible with VI(m) commands, it is an interesting feature. Unfortunately not one that I have any experience using yet, so you can check here and here for more info.

Word/Code Completion and Auto-Braces

One of the things I really like in Kate is word completion. It’s a bit different from the code completion that is commonly found in IDEs. The word completion in Kate is based off other words that are present in the file. This means that you won’t be able to do someObject.met and see all the attributes/methods of that object that start with “met”. However you can use auto-completion when you’re writing anything from C to Scheme to HTML to README files.

Code Tools

Kate also comes with a number of tools for working with code. A comment/uncomment command that works with just about any language and style of comment. Indent/Dedent, support for Unix, Windows and Mac newlines and tons of character encodings, word wrap and spell checking are available and that just barely scratches the surface.

Plugins, Extensions and Scripting

Over 20 plugins and extensions are available (some for KatePart and some for Kate) that add more functionality. Plus you can write KatePart scripts in JavaScript that can add tons of features or just implement a quick hack to get things done.


There are many good things that coding in Kate brings.
These are but a few of my favorite things!



The Kate Editor Homepage

Using Kate As a Web Editor


One thought on “Koding in Kate

  1. I just stumbled across this post, looking for some kate-related things on the web. And I’d like to say: you are not alone in liking Kate. It’s a fantastic editor. And it shows that Kate’s developers actually use it themselves, because it /works/ and has lots of little and advanced features that really increase your productivity.

    First all these emacs and vi people laugh at me when they see me using Kate. Then I laugh at them when they have forgotten the six-character key combination they need to do something trivial in their favorite tool, while Kate easily juggles 50 open source files of various random programming languages in a easily grasped way and *also* has all these advanced features, with the difference of actually making it possible to find them.

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