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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: NetBeans
NetBeans now has very good JavaScript/HTML5/CSS3 support (added in version 7.3) and brand-new Cordova framework support for building JavaScript-based mobile applications. NetBeans isn't the fastest IDE on the block, but it's one of the more complete, and of course, the price is right: NetBeans is available free under an open source license.

The NetBeans JavaScript editor does syntax highlighting, autocompletion, and code folding, pretty much as you'd expect. The JavaScript editing features also work for JavaScript code embedded in PHP, JSP, and HTML files. jQuery support is baked into the editor.

Code analysis runs in the background as you edit, providing warnings and hints. Debugging works in the embedded WebKit browser and in Chrome with the NetBeans Connector installed. The debugger can set DOM, line, event, and XMLHttpRequest breakpoints, and it will display variables, watches, and the call stack. An integrated browser log window displays browser exceptions, errors, and warnings.

NetBeans can configure and perform unit testing with the JsTestDriver, a JAR (Java archive) file you can download for free. Debugging of unit tests is automatically enabled if you specify Chrome with NetBeans Connector as one of the JsTestDriver browsers when you configure JsTestDriver in the Services window.

When you are debugging a Web application in Chrome with the NetBeans Connector and edit CSS from the Chrome Developer Tools, the changes will be captured by NetBeans and saved into the CSS files. However, if your CSS files were generated from SASS or LESS style sheets, you'll have to manually update the source sheet as the CSS files are merely compiled output.

In the embedded WebKit browser and in Chrome with the NetBeans Connector installed, you can use the NetBeans network monitor to view request headers, responses, and call stacks for REST communications. For WebSocket communications, both headers and text frames are displayed. Overall, NetBeans provides a slightly better debugging experience with Chrome than you get from Firefox and Firebug.

NetBeans integrates source code control with Git, Subversion, Mercurial, and CVS. The Git support is augmented by a graphical Diff viewer and a shelving system within the IDE. NetBeans color-codes the Git status of files, lets you view revision history for every file, and shows you revision and author information for each line of version-controlled files. NetBeans has similar integrations with Subversion, Mercurial, and CVS, although I only tested Git.

NetBeans integrates issue tracking with Jira and Bugzilla. In the NetBeans task window, you can search for tasks, save searches, update tasks, and resolve tasks in your registered task repository. Unfortunately the open source project I used for testing, jQuery Core, operates with Trac rather than Jira or Bugzilla. NetBeans also has team server integration for sites that use the Kenai infrastructure — basically, kenai.com and java.net.

 

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