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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

Of that admirable list, the syntax highlighting and limited refactoring usually work OK, as do marking of occurrences and bracket/parenthesis matching. Hover help kind of works, but it often displays bogus error messages. Smart Code Completion kind of works, but it's slow and unreliable. Quick fixes seem to be something to avoid for the most part.

Part of the issue with the JSDT implementation of JDT-based functionality is that typing is explicit in Java, while in JavaScript it is implicit and often needs to be inferred. While there is some type inference in JSDT, it doesn't work well for jQuery (or many of the other popular JavaScript frameworks), which leads to some of the problems mentioned above with bogus error messages and unreliable code completion, even with the JSDT for jQuery plug-in installed.

JSDT is supposed to have integrated debugging support for Rhino and Crossfire. As far as I can tell, only the Rhino debugger works.

If you have to use Eclipse for JavaScript development — for example, because you generate JavaScript from JSP code and Eclipse is mandated in your organization — I'm sure you can get by. But I wouldn't want to do it myself.

The Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers includes JavaScript development support as part of the Web Tools Platform. Oddly enough, the JavaScript code-checking feature falsely reports syntax errors for the widely used production version of jQuery Core. The project is working to reduce the number of false error reports in a future version. (Click the image for the complete view.)

JavaScript editors and IDEs: Komodo IDE
I've been a user and fan of Komodo IDE since it was first introduced in 2001. Although newer products, such as Sublime Text and WebStorm, have surpassed it in some areas, it is still a very good editor and IDE.

Komodo IDE provides advanced JavaScript editing, syntax highlighting, navigation, and debugging, but it doesn't include JavaScript code checking. Komodo supports dozens of programming and markup languages, with emphasis on Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, Tcl, and XSLT. With its wide range of programming and markup language support, including refactoring, debugging, and profiling, Komodo IDE is an excellent choice for end-to-end development in open source languages.

As of version 8.5, Komodo has a code refactoring module for all of the languages for which it provides code intelligence: PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, and Node.js. Unfortunately, the "least common denominator" nature of this approach limits the capabilities to renaming variables and class members and to extracting code into a method. Nevertheless, these are some of the most useful cases.

Komodo IDE already had column editing; in 8.5, it added multiple selections. This provides near parity with Sublime Text as far as mass edits are concerned. As long as we're doing the comparison, Komodo is more of an IDE, and Sublime Text is much faster. And since we're discussing performance, Komodo's speed has improved noticeably compared to older versions, in screen drawing, search, and syntax checking.


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