Trying the Zed code editor on Windows

Intro

Atom was my favourite code editor until it was sunset. I then switched to using VSCode which is good, but I found its performance subpar on my old laptop.

A few months ago, I heard of a new text editor called Zed. Interestingly, the creators of Zed have worked on Atom as well. Sadly, Zed was not yet available on Windows at release. Well, it still isn’t but now it can be compiled from source.

Compiling from source

The instructions listed in the repo were fairly straightforward. But it did take me around 25 minutes to build it all. I don’t have experience building rust apps from scratch, so I’m not sure if this is an ideal time or just a device-specific issue.

Look and Feel

A screenshot of zed code editor on windows
Zed running on windows

On first glance, I felt it was similar to atom. It isn’t something completely new and follows a similar layout to almost all the text editors out there today, which is to be expected because people are not just going to learn their way around a new layout for a new text editor.

Performance

Zed was fast. Extremely fast. Files and large directories opened in a snap. I did see the performance benchmark comparison listed on their website, but I was still surprised at the quickness with which it operated. Now I get why Rust can be huge for software.

Here is a quick comparison of app launch times.

Zed editor app launch time

Features

Given that it is in active development, the overall editor is quite bare bones which I like. I don’t think a code editor needs a lot of features. The theme selection is pretty decent, and it supports keymaps for all the popular editors out there. It also has support built in for vim mode. It has a bunch of other features that are not yet available on Windows.

Conclusion

Zed looks quite promising, but it is still in its infancy. While the code is open source, Zed requires contributors to sign a CLA and they also have raised private funding. As an end-user, I have seen plenty of venture-backed projects shut down, get acquired, or both. Only time will tell if Zed can live on.