Best JavaScript IDE & Source Code Editors to Use in 2019

Posted in JavaScript
Best JavaScript IDE & Source Code Editors to Use in 2019

JavaScript is the popular programming language of the web. It works exceptionally well with CSS and HTML to develop powerful front-end applications. With the introduction of NodeJS, the high-level, interpreted programming languages expanded its reaches to backend development.

It led to a surge in the development of a diverse range of JavaScript frameworks, IDEs, and source code editors. An IDE is preferred over code editors due to the ability to debug code as well as providing support for ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) systems. Nonetheless, the difference between source code editors and IDEs has blurred in modern times.

Best JavaScript IDE and Source Code Editors

Though the basic functioning is the same, each JS IDE and source code editor has some distinct advantages, and disadvantages as well, over others. Here is our pick of the 14 best JavaScript IDEs and Source Code Editors to use in 2019:

Atom

Atom
Initial Release – February 2014

Type – Source Code Editor (Open-source)

Atom is one of the most popular source code editors used for JavaScript development. The modern code editor is flexible and highly customizable. A cross-platform tool, Atom is easy to install, offers a significant speed gain, and is completely free to use.

The basis of Atom is Electron, which is a very popular framework for building cross-platform desktop applications using JavaScript. Smart code completion is inherent to Atom, which also boasts an intuitive file system browser. There are also several UI and syntax themes available.

The ability of Atom can be extended by means of adding packages, such as the Auto-close HTML tags, Minimap, and Linter. Atom has an inbuilt package manager that simplifies searching available packages and installing them on priority.

AWS Cloud9

AWSCloud9
Initial Release – 2010

Type – Cloud IDE (Proprietary)

Written completely in JavaScript and using NodeJS on the back-end, AWS Cloud9 is probably one of the best online IDEs for developing JS applications. Additionally, it supports development for C, C++, Go, Node.js, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby projects.

Anyone looking to use AWS Cloud9 must have an AWS account. The online IDE comes with an inbuilt terminal that provides support for npm and basic Unix commands. Code completion, real-time language analysis, and simultaneous editing are some of its notable features.

AWS Cloud9 comes with variable/function name refactoring and syntax highlighting for JS. Code reformatting is possible via JSBeautify and CSSLint. Customizable key-bindings is also available, which includes presets for Emacs, Sublime Text, and Vim.

The functionality of AWS Cloud9 can be extended by using plugins. Moreover, a variety of themes are available to give the IDE a look of your choice. In addition to offering a debugger, the IDE offers tabbed file management.

AWS Cloud9 has an inbuilt image editor and provides support for several Version Control Systems, including BitBucket, GitHub, and Mercurial. The IDE provides support for deployment to a variety of platforms, such as Google App Engine, Heroku, Joyent, and Microsoft Azure.

Brackets

Brackets
Initial Release – November 2014

Type – Source Code Editor (Open-Source)

Created by Adobe Systems, Brackets is a fresh front-end development tool available under the MIT license. It is continuously rising as a leading tool choice by JS developers. The source code editor offering built-in support for JavaScript is fast and lightweight.

One of the most interesting features supported by Brackets is Live Preview. It allows seeing how the changes in code work in real-time by automatically opening a new Chrome window. The JSLint feature is responsible for verifying the JS file while it is being saved using Brackets.

Like its contemporaries, Brackets comes with the automatic code completion feature. However, it is way faster than what competitors offer. In order to debug JS apps built using Brackets, the Theseus extension is there. It works with both Google Chrome as well as NodeJS.

The ability of Brackets can be enhanced by means of installing extensions. Brackets offer a crystal clear interface for searching and adding extensions. Some useful extensions to add to Brackets are Autoprefixer, Code-folding, Markdown Preview, Smart Highlighting, and Snippets.

Codeanywhere

Codeanywhere
Initial Release – May 2013

Type – Cloud IDE (Free/Premium)

Codeanywhere is a cloud-based, cross-platform IDE written in JavaScript. It allows developers to write, edit, and run web development projects directly from a web browser. In addition to JavaScript, the online IDE provides support for over 70 programming languages.

The editor offered by Codeanywhere is based on the CodeMirror and utilizes OpenVZ containers for development environments, known as DevBoxes. In addition to allowing the user to run code in DevBoxes, the IDE enables connecting with one’s own VMs via FTP or SSH.

Codeanywhere comes with an inbuilt terminal that supports basic Unix commands as well as npm. It has a built-in debugger, offers tabbed file management, and supports deployment to Heroku.

It is possible to connect to Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive with Codeanywhere. The cloud IDE provides support for Bitbucket, Git, and GitHub code repositories.

Eclipse

Eclipse
Initial Release – November 2001

Type – Java-specific IDE (Open-source)

Initially influenced by IBM VisualAge, Eclipse is one of the big three Java IDEs. It comes with an extensible plugin system. In order to use Eclipse for JavaScript development as well as with other programming languages, specific plugins need to be installed.

Eclipse was one of the first IDEs to run under GNU Classpath. The integrated development environment offers a remarkable combination of performance, robustness, and stability. Setting up the Oomph Project allows automating and reproducing identical workspaces.

Since Eclipse Mars, vigorous efforts have been made to make Eclipse more JS-friendly. This is evident with the performance enhancement in the JSDT (JavaScript Development Tools). Eclipse supports a new Docker UI, enabling building Docker images and containers with the Docker CLI.

Almost all download packages for Eclipse integrate with Git. One of the amazing feature supported by Eclipse is the automated error reporting. The feature allows the IDE to automatically sent found bugs to eclipse.org.

After processing, these bugs are converted into Bugzilla entries. Hence, it allows troubleshooting via crowdsourcing in place of relying on a few people or a small community.

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ IDEA
Initial Release – January 2001

Type – Java-specific IDE (Free edition/Commercial edition)

With a primary focus on maximizing developer productivity, IntelliJ IDEA is one of the most beloved IDEs. In addition to providing support for a number of programming languages other than Java and JS, the ergonomic design supported by the IDE offers ease-of-use.

One of the most amazing features of IntelliJ IDEA is its ability to automatically add tools that are relevant to the context. The integrated development environment offers a number of smart code assistance features for JavaScript development.

IntelliJ IDEA is capable to automate repetitive programming tasks to cut development time. The IDE offers advanced code completion, built-in static code analyzer, and integrated version control.

NetBeans

NetBeans
Initial Release – 1997

Type – Dedicated IDE for Java

Other than its popular use for Java development, NetBeans is able to provide powerful integrated development environment capabilities in favor of JavaScript. The multi-platform IDE enables application development using modules (or modular software components).

There is a smaller time gap between installing NetBeans and using the same for building applications. Smart code completion, syntactically and semantically highlighting code, built-in support for Git, Mercurial, and Subversion are some of the major highlights of the IDE.

It is very easy to modify the NetBeans workspace. You can drag and reposition tabs in the application frame or customize the buttons in the toolbar to suit your application development style. You can also set your own keyboard shortcuts.

PhpStorm

PhpStorm
Initial Release – 2009

Type – PHP-specific IDE (Commercial)

PhpStorm is a cross-platform IDE built on top of the IntelliJ IDEA platform. Though it is developed especially for PHP development, it has some great features to be used as a JavaScript IDE.

Like the IntelliJ IDEA, the functionality of PhpStorm can be extended by means of plugins. PhpStorm supports zero-configuration debugging in addition to automated refactorings, error prevention, syntax highlighting, and on-the-fly code analysis.

In order to enhance the code quality, PhpStorm comes with hundreds of code inspections. These verify the code as it is written and offer quick-fixes for improving the code quality. Pressing Alt and Enter together will display various options available for each inspection.

PhpStorm comes with inbuilt tools for testing and profiling. It offers a unified UI in order to work with numerous popular Version Control Systems, including Git, Mercurial, and Perforce. Moreover, the IDE offers tools to work with databases and SQL in a project.

SourceLair

SourceLair
Initial Release – January 2011

Type – Web-based online IDE (30-day free trial/Commercial)

Written in Django, a leading Python framework, SourceLair is an online IDE. For every project created, SourceLair offers an isolated development environment. Each of the development environment is built as per the typical requirements and comes with several tools.

One of the most interesting features of SourceLair is that all projects come with a dedicated development server that is publicly accessible. This means that it is possible to share the project with clients and co-workers by simply sharing the project’s Public URL with them.

If you are working on a project that uses a separate database server then you can simply add it to the project in a few clicks. Automatic indentation, code folding, smart autocompletion, and syntax highlighting are some of the desirable features supported by the SourceLair editor.

SourceLair offers real-time error reporting for JavaScript powered by JSHint (and also for Python powered by Pylint). The online IDE comes with a full-featured Linux terminal and a robust keyboard control layout.

Other noteworthy highlights of SourceLair includes browsersync, drag and drop support, Git integration, inbuilt pip and npm support, single-click app deployment to Heroku, split view, and Sublime Text key bindings.

Sublime Text

Sublime Text
Initial Release – January 2008

Type – Source Code Editor

The latest version of Sublime Text is SBT3, which transforms the tool from being a source code editor into a pseudo-IDE. Sublime Text is cross-platform and offers a high degree of customization.

Sublime Text flaunts a clutter-free interface and significant speed boost. Enhanced pane-management, Go to definition, and Go to Symbol are some of the out-of-the-box features. For enabling syntax highlight for ES6 and ReactJS code, the Babel plugin is available.

Some important plugins that anyone using Sublime Text for JS development must use are DocBlockr, JSFormat, SideBar Enhancements, and SublimeLinter.

Few More IDE

Vim

Vim
Initial Release – 1991

Type – Text Editor (Open-source/Charityware)

According to Stack Overflow developer survey 2018, Vim is the 5th most-popular development environment for all respondents and the top-choice for system administrators and DevOps personnel. Vim is a contraction for Vi IMproved.

Vim is designed to be used as a standalone application with a GUI as well as directly from the CLI. Though initially released for Amiga, the free and open-source text editor is now available for a wide variety of platforms.

One of the most desirable aspects of Vim is that it is heavily customizable. It is possible via the available plugins, written in vimscript or VimL. The source code editor also allows for defining personalized key mappings, known as macros.

Vim has a comprehensive integrated help system, limited IDE-like features, mouse interaction support, and ability to edit archived files over FTP, HTTP, and SSH network protocols. It also offers tabbed windows, spell checking, syntax highlights, and persisting undo/redo history.

Visual Studio

Visual Studio
Initial Release – February 1997

Type – General IDE

Yet another leading IDE for JavaScript development is Visual Studio. The integrated development environment is primarily used for developing computer programs for the Windows platform. The IDE is able to generate both managed code as well as native code.

Visual Studio provides built-in support for JavaScript. The code editor of Visual Studio flaunts IntelliSense. It offers code completion as well as the code refactoring feature. The inbuilt debugger can operate on both machine level as well as source level.

Class designer, code profiler, database schema designer, forms designer, and web designer are available as inbuilt tools with Visual Studio. To further extend its capability, a number of plugins are readily available. The latest version, Visual Studio 2019, is expected to land sometime soon.

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code
Initial Release – April 2015

Type – Source Code Editor

According to the 2018 survey conducted by the State of JS, Visual Studio Code is the most widely used JS text editor with over 14k users out of the 20k survey participants. Based on the Electron platform, Visual Studio Code is specifically created by Microsoft for web development.

Amazingly, Visual Studio Code is one of the atypical Microsoft products such that it can operate on Linux as well as on MacOS systems. In addition to JavaScript, Visual Studio Code provides support for over 30 programming languages as of now, including C#, HTML5, PHP, and Ruby.

Like Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code comes with the IntelliSense feature. It assists the developers by listing out code suggestions, hints, and parameter descriptions. For debugging JS and NodeJS-based apps, the source code editor comes with a first-rate debugger.

The developer can either start the application in the debug mode or manually add the debugger at runtime. Notable features of the built-in debugger of Visual Studio Code includes call stack, setting breakpoints, and watch variables.

Visual Studio Code offers a useful feature called Peek. It allows expanding the definition of any function in an inline popup. Another useful feature boasted by the source code editor is TaskRunner. It allows creating and configuring tasks to use Grunt, Gulp, or MSBuild.

In addition to monitoring all the changes made to a file, Visual Studio Code allows running commands such as commit, publish, pull, push, and rebase thanks to built-in Git support. Exploring the current project or a directory is possible with the inbuilt CLI.

WebStorm

WebStorm
Initial Release – 2010

Type – Dedicated IDE for CSS, HTML, and JavaScript (Commercial)

Offered by JetBrains, the one behind IntelliJ IDEA and PhpStorm, WebStorm is one of the most frequently used integrated development environments for JavaScript development. Endorsed as the “smartest JavaScript IDE,” WebStorm is loaded with a plethora of features.

WebStorm supports code completion, error identification, and refactoring. Thanks to the inbuilt debugger, JS developers are able to evaluate the code without even exiting the IDE. The built-in testing tool generates one of the easiest-to-read error reports.

Probably the most distinguishing feature that sets WebStorm apart from the competitors is the spy-js feature. It traces the code all for preventing actions that can create havoc later.

Conclusion

There is no single JS source code editor or IDE that is a one-stop solution for everything. Instead, each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Hence, before opting for one, you need to precisely underline all your requirements. Hope the listing above will help you make a favorable decision.

Looking to improve your JavaScript skills? Consider checking out some of the best JS tutorials recommended by the community.

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Akhil Bhadwal

Akhil Bhadwal

A Computer Science graduate interested in mixing up imagination and knowledge into enticing words. Been in the big bad world of content writing since 2014. In his free time, Akhil likes to play cards, do guitar jam, and write weird fiction. View all posts by the Author

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