Sublime Forum

Sublime's future and open source


I would gladly pay for sublime even if it is open source and fund its development. I’m pretty sure there is a lot of people who would support sublime if is open source. I this has cost sublime fair share of user base who just jumped to vscode ( soon it may catchup with sublime speed). Which is bulding features that thanks to its open source contributors.Please forgive me if I do sound rude. I guess I could have rephrased it more pleasant. But I do not know the implications of making it open source now since Vsode seems to be gaining upper hand.



Problem with “alternatives” like that are written on top of the good old Scintilla is one (IMHO)… the Scintilla’s implementation of multiple selections is currently incomplete and corky in comparison to ST’s… if this was properly fixed I’d gladly callopen-source editors written on top of Scintilla good alternatives to Sublime for sure.

For more info about what I mean check this ancient issue

It’s not just the fact undo/redo history of multi selections doesn’t work… it’s also the fact you’ll be forced to have a “main” selection always present in Scintilla… while in Sublime a multiple selection can become an empty list.

Summing up, Sublime implemented the multi selections feature the right way from the very beginning and Scintilla, the main “alternative” to ST has implemented this “must” feature years later to its creation and the author didn’t put enough love into it so the result still needs to be improved to become the real deal

That said, if Scintilla fixed that properly I’d strongly believe it could become a serious contender to SublimeText… you mention VsCode, Atom or other slow competitors. Personally, I won’t even bother to waste my time testing out these electron things as the very foundation is just wrong (sorry to be blunt here)



Most of the development on VSCode is made by full-time developers paid by Microsoft. Open sourcing Sublime Text wouldn’t be enough to keep the pace without a significant cash flow on the project.



True as I said even if it is open source there might still be full time devs working on project funded by the community.



But as I said I do not know its implications now



Yes, it is possibile, but full-time developers cost a lot of money, and it is extremely hard for a community to collect a significant amount of cash because it is based on voluntary donations. There are very few open-source projects funded properly and with continuity this way.
Also, I have no numbers but I’m pretty sure that the current business model of Sublime Text’s authors collects more money (thus funding the project) that it would get if it were open-source; there are certainly thousands of professionals to whom 80$ is a negligible price for the no. 1 tool they use for their daily job (I’m one of them). These people use ST and buy the license because it is a different product from Atom or VSCode, otherwise they just would use use Atom or VSCode and save some money. These design differences are the cause of a lot of critisism (… VSCode does this and that, ST doesn’t) but are what most of the license payers are looking for. My opinion, obviously.

I think this would happen if Sublime Text would became open-source:

  • the community start requesting/submitting patches to include in ST any kind of feature, trying to turn it in a VSCode/Atom clone;
  • if the project maintainers resist, the community gets angry and forks the project; consequently, any cash flow get splitted and any cash funds will likely became insufficient;
  • if the project maintainers give up trying to keep ST something different, the professionals who love the current ST will stop giving money and move to something else, and ST is years behind VSCore/Atom when trying to directly compete with them. The project dies.

Moreover, if the community is able to pay full-time developers it doesn’t need Sublime Text’s source code: just start paying some high experienced developer to build a new open-source editor or some high experienced developer could start the project with the confidence of being funded by the community. This isn’t going to happen because both ways are extremely hard.

Just my 2c.



I totally agree with you here, open sourcing ST would be most probably a dead-end, if you read carefully about the available options here you’ll soon realize there isn’t any low-risk choice that would be a proper alternative to the current business model ST uses…

I think the only choice of Sublime going open-source would be:

  • SublimeHQ is bought by a whale company and such company decides to open-source it
  • New proper open-source competitors to SublimeText emerges and the whole user-base transition to it, SublimeText goes abandonware and the source is opened by force

I’m not sure the odds for such events to happen are very high :confused:



With due respect to TextMate, I was a TextMate user after graduating from BBEdit. We were stuck at 1.5 for so long that once ST came and it had taken all the good ideas and more, I switched to ST in a heart beat.

May Jon and the team have a long life. Now I am comparing SM with SourceTree and I can see myself committing to SM, yeah including the Dark Mode. :grin:



Oh, and now there is the open-source VSCode - VSCodium.

I love ST and personally I like looking through “‘X’ can do this, ST cannot” comments and then going to Package Control or this Forum. I always get what I am looking for.