8 Great Code Editors for Windows 8 & RT – for Free or Cheap!

Looking to get some basic coding done on the road? And you totally bought into Windows 8 tablets, the Surface (Pro), or touchscreen ultrabooks? Despite the platform being launched just a few months ago, Microsoft’s Windows Store already features some great editors for HTML or general coding. We go hands-on and compare several editors available from Microsoft’s digital app market.

But before we dive in, you need to set your expectations back a bit. The typical code editor app can’t replace a full-blown development environment. It can, rather, serve as a quick replacement for when you’re working on a smaller project or you need to implement or review code on the road. Obviously, these editors are not capable of replacing your IDE anytime soon, especially due to (most) code editors’ lack of a compiler.

But to my surprise, I found eight code editors that – even being free or extremely inexpensive – provide a handful of features of their bigger brothers, such as syntax highlighting for popular programming languages.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the best coding apps for Windows 8 and Windows RT (in no particular order, mind you!).

Code Writer (Free)

One of the most popular coding apps, Code Writer works with 20 languages and file types such as C++, C#, SQL, and XAML. It supports syntax highlighting, which also makes it perfect for quick debugging and code reviews.

Code Writer - free


In a typical Windows 8 “Metro” (Oh, I know we’re not supposed to call it that anymore) fashion, the editor takes over the entire screen; there’s no chrome visible, except for the little line and column bar.


Notepad RT ($1.19)

Don’t let the name fool you: Notepad RT isn’t just meant for “Windows RT.” Its name probably is a nod to the Windows RunTime developer environment. Notepad RT makes use of the Windows 8 snap feature to preview documents (e.g. HTML and XML) and also supports syntax highlighting for the most common languages (HTML, Java, PHP, etc.). I found Code Writer to be a bit more difficult for selecting and editing code on tablets, but Notepad RT worked a lot better on touch-based devices. That’s especially useful if you’re sitting on a plane and don’t have much space for your mouse.


Hex Editor (Free)

All right, all right… Hex Editor is not really a code editor, but since we’re talking about development, we might as well make a little excursion into hex editing land, right? Jujuba Software’s “Hex Editor Pro” allows you to view and edit files in hexadecimal format and recognizes headers of popular file types. Hint: By default, Hex Editor Pro only shows .bin and .dat files: You need to manually add the files types you want to open. Just go to “Extensions” (the app bar comes up with a swipe from the bottom or a right-click) and go to “Add.”

Hex Editor - free


CodePlus ($2.99)

Perfect for those simple, quick code changes: CodePlus charges a bit more, but also offers quite a bit more, especially if you’re into assembly language (e.g. Z80) and TypeScript. CodePlus also sports syntax highlighting, and not just for the common languages (JavaScript, C# etc.); it also supports PowerShell and Fortran. Be warned: While I didn’t have any problems testing out a bit of XML and HTML in CodePlus, some commenters (on the app store) noted that the app crashes sometimes. So make sure to use the “Trial” version before you buy and see if it occurs on you. On a more positive note: Apparently the app’s developer is quite responsive and delivers updates fast.


HTMLDirect ($1.49)

Trying to just built a quick HTML website, form, or doc? Then forget all the other coding apps and have a look at HTMLDirect. This pure HTML editor allows you to not just “code” HTML but also preview it live. Or you could use the “Navigate” feature to browse through the code of websites.



TouchCodeTouchCode (free)

This JavaScript-only editor is, as its name suggests, focused on making coding easier for touch-enabled devices. To avoid long typing sessions on the tiring onscreen-keyboard, the road warrior can easily integrate snippets (see the right side of the screenshot) with a few gestures. The idea behind this touch-friendly development UI is great, but I’d really like to see it support more languages.


InstantRuby (free)

This is one of the few code editors that let you not just write or edit code, but also run it (in split screen mode). This Ruby-only editor has full support for the Ruby library and allows you to open Ruby files easily.


Minify ($1.49)

Syntax highlighting, smart closing, several themes, tags, and support for more than 40 (!) languages make Minify an all-around winner for programmers. One of the highlights, for me at least, is the ability to use the Snap view so I can code in the Windows 8 app and work with a browser or a desktop application at the same time.

These aren’t the only free-or-cheap text editors for Windows 8 tablets. I examined a dozen more before I chose these as the ones worth seeking out. Are there any great ones I missed? Share them in the comments, and we can make this list an even more valuable resource.


See also:


  1. Any great editors that support REXX macros for Win RT? I know Kedit supports KEXX for Win 8. But I was hoping for the lighter format???

  2. Sandro Villinger says:

    Hi Dave, none of the editors I tried support KEXX and I couldn’t find any that do. I’ll keep my eyes open for one, Best, Sandro

  3. how did PSPad not make it on here!

  4. I suggest to add Codelobster PHP Edition into your review

  5. Can anybody please tell me how to search in files using windows RT, none of these editors do it! I am starting to really hate windowsRT

  6. Here’s another vote for PSPad 😉

  7. Jared E. says:

    You should really learn to code in case you ever have to be without a wysiwyg editor… I learned back in 1994 by dissecting a webpage and within a weeks time I was coding complete pages with complex tables, nesting, scripts and drop menus without any books. It’s not hard. PSPad is irrelevant to this story, surprised so many are not reading the title article.

  8. student says:

    I downloaded Code writer and I’m not sure if it can run code. Is that just me or does the app not run code at all?

  9. Nice Post for the windows phone 8 developers and designers who want to develop their own Apps. I think it’s easy for non programmers too to get into as it uses simple English like syntax. It recently went open source funding so free to download and try. Well worth a look!

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