Review: 10 JavaScript editors and IDEs put to the test

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You're also giving up real-time code collaboration. If you work alone, that isn't a loss. If you work closely with other developers who are remote from you, then you're giving up some productivity when you pass up this feature. And you're giving up the HTTP inspector. If you have another tool to look at headers and responses, such as Firefox with Firebug, then you're only losing some convenience.

You're giving up publishing from your editor, though you can fill that gap with FileZilla. You're giving up the nice Komodo Rx toolkit, though you can partially fill that gap with this site, for free. Or you could pay $39.95 for Regex Buddy or Regex Magic if you're a Windows user. Of course, once you start buying a bunch of individual utilities, you'll quickly rack up a bill that approaches the cost of Komodo IDE.

I could go on, but this comparison table for Komodo IDE and Komodo Edit has all the vitals. In any case, Komodo Edit may well satisfy your JavaScript editing needs for free -- and give you editing of HTML, CSS, Python, Perl, Ruby, Tcl, and a whole bunch of other programming and markup languages.

Komodo Edit is the free, stripped-down sibling of Komodo IDE. Komodo Edit has the same editing features as its big brother, but lacks code refactoring, debugging, unit testing, source code control integration, and other features that properly belong to an IDE. (Click the image for the complete view.)

Notepad++. 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.)

TextMate. 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 cafA(c)s. 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.

Although it isn't documented yet, the Git bundle works well to integrate TextMate with Git and GitHub. TextMate recognized my existing Git repositories without any prompting when I opened them as project directories, and it was able to update them from GitHub using a pull command from the bundle. The SQL bundle lets you work with MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

As far as speed goes, TextMate is right up there with Sublime Text. It might be a hair slower, but I'd need a stopwatch to be sure. I certainly can't complain about it.

It looks like TextMate is coming back from its temporary obscurity. I wish it well.

TextMate 2.0 is the newly updated code and markup editor for the Mac. TextMate is not an IDE but its snippets, macros, and scoping system can often provide features that even a language-specific IDE lacks. As seen above, TextMate now includes "bundles" for JavaScript and jQuery. (Click the image for the complete view.)

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