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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

The performance of Visual Studio 2013 is usually pretty good if you give it enough memory and CPU power — and it tends to require significant resources. As I mentioned in my full review, startup performance has improved quite a bit in Visual Studio 2013. I no longer have time to brew tea between bringing it up and starting to work.

Visual Studio 2013 has great performance diagnostics for applications, but by and large they aren't all that useful for ordinary JavaScript code, which typically runs deep inside a browser. It has specific JavaScript function timing, HTML UI responsiveness, and JavaScript memory tools, but they only apply to JavaScript-based Windows Store projects, not Web projects that happen to use JavaScript.

ALM integration in Visual Studio 2013 is very good, but unlike many of the IDEs in this review, it requires you to actually use the IDE when you check out the project. Many of the other tools will automatically recognize and use an existing Git repository. If there's a way to make Visual Studio 2013 do that, I haven't found it.

Overall, if I had to live with Visual Studio 2013 as my IDE for JavaScript, I could do it without too many tears, especially if I were working primarily on Windows-based computers or on projects using Microsoft technologies. However, for the sort of JavaScript development I like to do, on the computers I currently use most of the time, newer multiplatform tools such as WebStorm and Sublime Text make me happier and more productive.

Visual Studio 2013 provides considerably better JavaScript support than earlier versions of Visual Studio, and it brings ALM improvements that can benefit JavaScript projects. As you can see at the left, syntax coloring and code folding work well. As you can see at the top right, JavaScript code can be treated as a Web project. (Click the image for the complete view.)

JavaScript editors and IDEs: Sublime Text
If you want a flexible, powerful, extensible programming text editor that is lightning fast and you don't mind switching to other windows for code checking, debugging, and deployment, then look no farther than Sublime Text.

Besides speed, the many noteworthy strengths of Sublime Text include support for more than 70 file types, among them JavaScript, HTML, and CSS; nearly instant navigation and instant project switching (did I mention it's fast?); multiple selections (make a bunch of changes all at once), including column selections (select a rectangular area of the file); multiple windows (use all your monitors) and split windows (take advantage of your screen real estate); complete customization with simple JSON files; a Python-based plug-in API; and a unified, searchable command palette.


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