Review: 7 JavaScript IDEs put to the test

WebStorm and Visual Studio Code lead a field of rich and capable integrated tools for JavaScript programming

JavaScript is used for many different kinds of applications today. Most often, JavaScript is mixed with HTML5 and CSS to build Web front ends. But JavaScript is also being used to 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.

In a companion article, I discuss the current crop of JavaScript editors. In this article, I’ll discuss the IDEs. As you’ll see, some of them are very good indeed, while others -- even ones with familiar names and good reputations -- have fallen into neglect and aren’t worth your time. To spare the guilty, I have dropped their embarrassing scores and lists of weak pros and strong cons, but I still discuss them.

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 application lifecycle management (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.

Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio 3 is a customized free and (mostly) open source installation of Eclipse for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, with much better JavaScript and JavaScript library editing than JSDT (JavaScript Development Tools). It is also available as a plug-in for Eclipse.

Years ago I used Aptana heavily for both JavaScript and Ruby on Rails development, but in recent years development of Aptana has slowed, mostly because Aptana became the underlying technology for Appcelerator Titanium Studio (follow the link to my review). There are currently two committers and 15 contributors on the Aptana GitHub project.

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