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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

A free Windows source code editor and Notepad replacement, Notepad++ does a decent job of editing JavaScript. It also supports about 50 other programming and markup languages. It has a workspace tree view, a function list tab, and a document map tab in addition to its multidocument editing window, and it has fast enough load time and strong enough performance that it doesn't feel like it's slowing you down.

With syntax coloring and folding, capable editing functions (including column-mode editing and regular expression support for search and replace), and a certain amount of function completion and parameter hinting, Notepad++ can easily be your primary code editor for JavaScript. However, it's far from the most fully featured JavaScript editor in terms of being able to generate code, perform operations such as refactoring, and navigate quickly within a large project.

I used Notepad++ extensively when developing JavaScript applications on Windows machines. At the time, I preferred it to Visual Studio 2008 for the purpose. By staying out of my way, Notepad++ allowed me to concentrate on the code I was trying to build. Later on, Notepad++'s minimalist approach felt less compatible to me, and I adopted other tools that reduced the number of keystrokes required to generate code.

Notepad++ is still useful in a pinch, and it's free for the downloading. If you have a Windows machine or VM, you should have Notepad++ installed, ready when you need it.

Notepad++ is a free Windows source code editor and Notepad replacement that does a decent job of editing JavaScript files. It has a workspace tree view, a function list tab, and a document map tab. (Click the image for the complete view.)

Once upon a time, TextMate ($55, OS X 10.7 and higher) was all the rage among the cool kids who wrote Ruby on Rails on their MacBooks while sitting at tables in college cafés. TextMate has since become less prominent as it fell into neglect and Sublime Text gained popularity, but with version 2.0 the product could be ready to make a comeback.

TextMate is not an IDE, but by using its "bundles," snippets, macros, and scoping system, you can often gain features that even a language-specific IDE lacks. TextMate now ships with bundles for, among many others, plain JavaScript and jQuery, which provide a bunch of nice tools for generating JavaScript and jQuery code quickly. Note that only the most popular bundles actually ship with the product. TextMate has a bundles preference menu from which you can download and install additional bundles.

Markdown support is provided in one of the in-package bundles. It includes a document preview function, a Markdown cheat sheet, and lots of shortcuts for generating Markdown mark-up.


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