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Review: 10 JavaScript editors and IDEs put to the test

Martin Heller | Feb. 7, 2014
WebStorm and Sublime Text lead a field of diverse and capable tools for JavaScript programming

JetBrains' WebStorm is an IDE for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and XML, with support for projects and version control systems, including GitHub. WebStorm is more than an editor, although it's a very good editor. It can check your code and give you an object-oriented view of your project. (Click the image for the complete view.)

WebStorm integrates with all of the major version control systems: Subversion, Mercurial, Git (including GitHub), Perforce, CVS, and TFS. It has its own shelving system that you can use to clean your working tree prior to an update from version control, as an alternative to using the version control system's shelving system (such as Git stash). WebStorm also tracks your local change history and displays changes inline with the option to easily revert; you can't lose work or break the code between commits unless you try really, really hard.

Performance is not really an issue when using WebStorm. Startup may be slower than Sublime Text, which is basically an editor, but it's faster than any of the other actual IDEs, and much faster than the Java-based IDEs NetBeans and Eclipse.

At a high level, WebStorm has enough documentation to get you started and to answer major questions. When you drill down, however, you may find yourself being sent to obsolete blog posts. In some cases, it was easier to experiment with the program and revert my files if necessary than to look up details of how things worked.

Overall, WebStorm is my top pick for serious JavaScript/HTML5/CSS developers who want a full-featured IDE. However, if you also write a lot of non-JavaScript server-side code, you may want to investigate an IDE that supports your server-side languages and your databases as well as JavaScript. If you really don't need an IDE, consider Sublime Text or another editor with good JavaScript syntax highlighting.

  • Supports syntax highlighting for more than 50 programming languages, including JavaScript, HTML, and CSS
  • Lightning-fast startup, file loading, viewing, and scrolling
  • Excellent editing and navigation
  • Simple integration with external build systems
  • Easy extension using plug-ins
  • Good code editing and navigation, syntax highlighting, and code folding
  • Good debugging support in multiple browsers
  • JavaScript function timing
  • Very good support for Git and Team Foundation Server
  • Excellent IDE focused tightly on Web development with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and XML, plus JavaScript frameworks and related languages such as CoffeeScript
  • Does syntax highlighting, documentation lookup, and refactoring
  • Supports integrated version control with CVS, Git, GitHub, Mercurial, and Subversion
  • Does on-the-fly code analysis, error highlighting, and quick fixes
  • Has its own project system with specialized project views, file structure views, and quick jumping between files, classes, methods, and usages
  • Includes FTP deployment, JavaScript debugger, unit-test runner, and integrated code coverage
  • Lacks version control support as shipped, but many version control plug-ins are available for prices ranging from free to $10
  • Lacks refactoring and code analysis
  • No OS X or Linux support unless you run Windows in a virtual machine
  • New "Peek definition" action not supported for JavaScript
  • Requires significant startup time
  • Omits server-layer and database-layer support (JetBrains has other products with additional server-side support)

 

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