Review: The 6 best JavaScript IDEs

WebStorm, Visual Studio 2017, Visual Studio Code, NetBeans, Komodo, and Eclipse pull out the stops for JavaScript, Node.js, and friends

Review: The 6 best JavaScript IDEs
Dmitry Baranovskiy (CC BY 2.0)
At a Glance

JavaScript is used for many different kinds of applications today. Most often, JavaScript works with HTML5 and CSS to build web front ends. But JavaScript also helps build mobile applications, and it’s finding an important place on the back end in the form of Node.js servers. Fortunately, JavaScript development tools—both editors and IDEs—are rising to meet the new challenges.

Why use an IDE instead of an editor? The main reason is that an IDE can debug and sometimes profile your code. IDEs also have support for ALM systems, integrating with the likes of Git, GitHub, Mercurial, Subversion, and Perforce for version control. But as more editors add hooks to these systems, ALM support is becoming less of a differentiator.

Eclipse Neon with Web Tools Platform

Back in the ancient days when Java Swing was new and exciting, I enjoyed using Eclipse for Java development, but soon moved on to other Java IDEs. Three years ago, when I did some Android development with Eclipse, I found the experience OK, but poky. When I tried to use Eclipse Luna with JSDT for JavaScript development two years ago, it constantly displayed false-positive errors for valid code that passed JSHint.

Fortunately, several vendors and open source projects have stepped up to the plate since then. Eclipse Neon.3 with Web Tools Platform 3.8.2 has a half-decent JavaScript editor, but it doesn't know about TypeScript, which is used by Angular, or ES6 and JSX files, which are used by React.

Eclipse has always enjoyed a huge marketplace of plugins. For Angular, TypeScript, and ES6, you can add the Angular IDE 2017 CI 4a (Webclipse), and for React projects with JSX files you can add TypeScript IDE 1.1.0. If you add both, you'll need to resolve their dispute over which one should edit TypeScript files, but that’s not a big deal.

To continue reading this article register now

IT Salary Survey: The results are in