CodePerfect 95 Review

CodePerfect 95 Review

I have a long history of loving text editors. Their simplicity and purity of design is appealing to me, as is their long lifespans. Writing a text editor that becomes popular really becomes a lifelong responsibility and opportunity, which is just very cool to me. They become subcultures onto themselves. IDEs I have less love for.

There's nothing wrong with using one, in fact I use them for troubleshooting on a pretty regular basis. I just haven't found one I love yet. They either have a million plugins (so I'm constantly getting notifications for updates) or they just have thousands upon thousands of features, so even to get started I need to watch a few YouTube tutorials and read a dozen pages of docs. I love JetBrains products but the first time I tried to use PyCharm for a serious project I felt like I was launching a shuttle into space.

Busy is a bit of an understatement

However I find myself writing a lot of Golang lately, as it has become the common microservice language across a couple of jobs now. I actually like it, but I'm always looking for an IDE to help me write it faster and better. My workflow is typically to write it in Helix or Vim and then use the IDE for inspecting the code before putting it in a commit, or for faster debugging than have two tabs open in the Tmux and switching between them. It works, but it's not exactly an elegant solution.

I stumbled across CodePerfect 95 and fell in love with the visual styling. So I had to give it a try. Their site is here:


It's hard to overstate how much I love this design. It is very Mac OS 9 in a way that I just was instantly drawn to. Everything from the atypical color choices to the fonts are just classic Apple design.

Mac OS 9

Whoever picked this logo, I was instantly delighted with it.

There were a few quibbles. It should respect the system dark/light mode, even if it goes against the design of the application. That's a users preference and should get reflected in some way.

Also as far as I could tell, nothing about the font used or any of the design elements were customizable. This is fine for me, I actually prefer when tools have strong opinions and present them to me, but I know for some people the ability to switch the monospace font used is a big deal. In general there are just not a lot of options, which is great for me but you should be aware of.


Alright so I got a free 7 day trial when I downloaded it and I really tried to kick the tires as much as possible. So I converted over to it for all my work during that period. This app promises speed and delivers. It is as fast as a terminal application and comes with most of the window and tab customization you would typically turn to a tool like Tmux for.

It apparently indexes the project when you open it, but honestly it happened so fast I didn't even notice what it was doing. As fast as I could open the project and remember what the project was, I could search or do whatever. I'm sure if you work on giant projects that might not be the case, but nothing I threw at the index process seemed to choke it at all.

It supports panes and tabs, so basically using Cmd+number to switch panes. It's super fast and I found very comfortable. The only thing that is slightly strange is when you open a new pane, it shows absolutely nothing. No file path, no "click here to open". You need to understand that when you switch to an empty pane you have to open a file. This is what the pane view looks like:

Cmd+P is fuzzy find and works as expected. So if you are used to using Vim to search and open files, this is going to feel very familiar to you. Cmd+T is the Symbol GoTo which works like all of these you have ever used:

You can jump to the definition of an identifier, completion, etc. All of this worked exactly like you would think it does. It was very fast and easy to do. I really liked some of the completion stuff. For instance, Generate Function actually saved me a fair amount of time.


dog := Dog{}
bark(dog, 1, false)

You can mouse over and generate this:

func bark(v0 Dog, v1 int, v2 bool) {
  panic("not implemented")

This is their docs example but when I tested it, it seemed to work well.

The font is pretty easy to read but I would have love to tweak the colors a bit. They went with kind of a muted color scheme, whereas I prefer a strong visual difference between comments and actual code. All the UI elements are black and white, very strong contract, so to make the actual workspace muted and a little hard to read is strange.

VSCode defaults to a more aggressive and easier to read design, especially in sunlight.


So one of the primary reasons IDEs are so nice to use is the integrated build system. However with Golang builds are pretty straightforward typically, so there isn't a lot to report here. It's basically "what arguments do you pass to go build saved as a profile".

It works well though. No complaints and stepping through the build errors was easy and fast to do. Not fancy but works like it says on the box.

Work Impressions

I was able to do everything I would need to do with a typical Golang application inside the IDE, which is not a small task. I liked features like the Postfix completion which did actually save me a fair amount of time once I started using them.

However I ended up missing a few of the GoLand features like Code Coverage checking for tests and built-in support for Kubernetes and Terraform, just because it's common to touch all subsystems when I'm working on something and not just exclusively Go code. You definitely see some value with having a tool customized for one environment over having a general purpose tool with plugins, but it was a little hard to give up all the customization options with GoLand. Then again it reduces complexity and onboarding time, so it's a trade-off.

Pricing and License

First with a product like this I like to check the Terms and Conditions. I was surprised that they....basically don't have any.

Clearly no lawyers were involved in this process, which seems odd. This reads like a Ron Swanson ToS.

The way you buy licenses is also a little unusual. It's an attempt to bridge the Jetbrains previous perpetual license and the perpetual fallback license.

A key has two parts: a one-time perpetual license, and subscription-based automatic updates. You can choose either one, or both:

    License only
        A perpetual license locked to a particular version.
        After 3 included months of updates, locked to the final version.
    License and subscription
        A perpetual license with access to ongoing updates .
        When your subscription ends, your perpetual license is locked to the final version.
    Subscription only
        Access to the software during your subscription.
        You lose access when your subscription ends.

I'm also not clear what they mean by "cannot be expensed".

Why can't I expense it? According to what? You writing on a webpage "you cannot expense it"? This seems like a way to extract more money from people depending on whether they're using it at work or home.

Jetbrains does something similar but they have an actual license you agree to. There's no documentation of a license here, so I don't know if this matters at all. If CodePerfect wants to run their business like this, I guess they can, but they're going to need to have a document that says something like this:

3.4. This subscription is only for natural persons who are purchasing a subscription to Products using only their own funds. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, you may not use any of the Products, and this grant of rights shall not be in effect, in the event that you do not pay Subscription fees using your own funds. If any third party pays the Subscription fees or if you expect or receive reimbursement for those fees from any third party, this grant of rights shall be invalid and void.

I feel like $40 for software where I only get 3 months of updates is not an amazing deal. Sublime Text is $99 for 3 years. Nova is $99 for one year. Examining the changelog it appears they're still closing relatively big bugs even now, so I would be a tiny bit nervous about getting locked into whatever version I'm at in three months forever. Changelog

The subscription was also not a great deal.

So I mean the easiest comparison would be GoLand.

$10 a month = $120 for the year and I get the perpetual fallback license. $100 for the year and I get CodePerfect (I understand the annual price break). The pricing isn't crazy but JetBrains is an established company with a known track record of shipping IDEs. I would be a bit hesitant to shell out for this based on a 7 day trial for a product that has existed for 302 days as of July 5th. I'd rather they charge me $99 for a license with 12 months of updates that just ends instead of a subscription. It's also strange that they don't seem to change the currency based on the location of the user.

My issue with all this is getting a one-time payment reimbursed is not bad. Subscriptions are typically frowned upon as expenses at most places I've worked unless they're training for the entire department. For my own personal usage, I would be hesitant to sign up for a new subscription from an unknown entity, especially when the ToS is a paragraph and the "license" I am agreeing to doesn't seem to exist? A lot of this is just new software growing pains, but I hope they're aware.


CodePerfect 95 is my favorite kind of software. It's functional yet fun, with some whimsy and joy mixed in with practical features. It works well and is as fast as promised. I enjoyed my week of using it, finding it to be mostly usable as JetBrains GoLand but in a lighter piece of software. So would I buy it?

I'm hesitant. I want to buy it, but there's zero chance I could get a legal department to approve this for an enterprise purchase. So my option would be to buy the more expensive version and expense it or just pay for it myself. Subscription fatigue is a real thing and I will typically pay a 20% premium to not have to deal with it. To not have to deal with a subscription I would need to buy a license every 3 months for $160 a year in total.

I can't get there yet. I've joined their newsletter and I'll keep an eye on it. If it continues to be a product in six months I'll pull the trigger. Switching workflows is a lot of work for me and it requires enough time to mentally adjust that I don't want to fall in love with a tool and then have it disappear. If they did $99 for a year license that just expired I'd buy it today.