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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

JavaScript editors and IDEs: Odds and ends
Most likely, you'll find your JavaScript tool of choice among the six options discussed above. But the four tools below — Alpha Anywhere, Komodo Edit, Notepad++, and TextMate — all have something to recommend them. Depending on the task at hand, you might find any one of them handy to have around. And except in the case of Alpha Anywhere, the cost is either free or insignificant.

Alpha Anywhere.
Most development tools for JavaScript help you write as much JavaScript code as possible. Alpha Anywhere ($99 per month; Windows Vista or above) helps you write as little JavaScript as possible. Instead of making you concentrate on the code, it asks you to concentrate on the functional user interface design, then generates code based on your graphical choices. You only need to write JavaScript code yourself for actions that haven't already been written, either by Alpha Software or by you.

Another difference is that most development tools for JavaScript concentrate on the front-end code, with little or no regard for the rest of a Web or mobile Web application: the database, the application server, the Web services, and the Web server. Alpha Anywhere is an end-to-end tool. That offers some interesting efficiencies. For example, look at the code in the screen image below and notice the odd construction {dialog.object}. That's clearly not normal JavaScript.

In fact, it's an abstraction or placeholder for the UX component, which is conveniently resolved by the application server layer at runtime, and replaced with the actual handle of the component. All of the properties and methods of the component are then referenced through the generated handle. We can see that easily by looking at the generated source code for the callMenuItem function. Where the original source code said:


The runtime source code says:


So {dialog.object} has become DLG1_DlgObj.

When there is more than one component of the same type in an application, Alpha Anywhere automatically numbers them: DLG1_DlgObj, DLG2_DlgObj, and so on.

Along the same lines, the database for an Alpha Anywhere application is abstracted to a named connection string. What might be a Microsoft Access MDB file for development can be a SQL Server database with the same schema running in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Your code doesn't need to know or care.

If you look at the screen image, you'll see multiple preview buttons. There are some for using desktop Web browsers (with device emulators for mobile Web applications) and some for doing a remote test on a phone or tablet. Similarly, you'll find buttons for publishing a Web project and for opening the PhoneGap Builder.


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