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5 Best Web Development IDE and Source Code Editors

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While working in web development, you’d discover that one of the most important tools you’d need is either a source code editor or an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

We have several of them out there, and choosing one that can improve your workflow and efficiency is very important. Here, we’d cover the 5 best web development IDEs and source code editors you should try.

They’re all cross-platform, meaning they have versions for the 3 common Operating Systems: Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

What is a Source Code Editor?

A source-code editor is an application specifically designed to enable developers to create and edit the source code of a program or website. They usually come with features which help to speed up the editing process. These features consist of syntax highlighting, auto-completing, and indentation.

Source-code editors can be a standalone application or can be merged into an IDE.

What is an IDE?

An IDE, on the other hand, is an application which provides developers with the facilities needed to create a computer program or website. Such facilities usually consist of a code editor, build automation tools, and a debugger.

The combination of such facilities in one application helps improve a developer’s workflow.

What’s the Difference?

The difference between a source code editor and an IDE is their purpose and function, which we can draw from the definitions stated above. The purpose of an IDE is to provide an environment to create a complete program. The purpose of a source code editor, on the other hand, is to simply edit text/code.

Note

Modern source code editors now come with the basic features that an IDE possesses such as a debugger. Though they might not consist of advanced features such as a Class browser, Object browser, and Class Hierarchy diagram which are used in Object-Oriented Software Engineering. Even still, some modern source code editors can be supercharged to contain all advanced features of an IDE through extensions.

5 Best Web Development IDE and Source Code Editors

1. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code (commonly referred to as VS Code), is a free source code editor developed by Microsoft. It’s the most popular code editor amongst developers and comes with built-in support for popular programming languages.

Notable Features

a. IntelliSense

Visual Studio Code comes with IntelliSense, a code editing feature which helps speed up the process of writing code by providing intelligent code completions and reducing typos.

b. Debugging

It also offers an interactive console where you can attach apps and debug with call stacks and breakpoints.

c. Git Command Support

You can also work with Version Control Systems (VCS) like Git in Visual Studio Code. This helps you to review code differences, and make commits.

d. Extensibility

You can supercharge Visual Studio Code and improve your workflow by installing extensions. This helps you to add better support for languages and debuggers. They can be accessed and installed right from the editor. The Visual Studio Marketplace offers a plethora of extensions for you to try.

2. Atom

Atom
Atom

Known as the “hackable text editor for the 21st century”, Atom is a free source code editor developed by GitHub, a hosting service for software development and version control using Git. It is built with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Node.js. This gives it an advantage over other source code editors in terms of customisation, as users can make customisations using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Notable Features

a. Teletype

With Atom, you can collaborate and edit code with other developers in realtime using Teletype. It uses a concept of “real-time portals” to share code workspaces.

b. Git and GitHub Support

As a web developer, you’re going to consistently make use of GitHub. With Atom, you can easily work with Git and GitHub to create branches, make pull requests, and push changes to your repository.

3. WebStorm

WebStorm
WebStorm

Webstorm is an IDE for development in JavaScript. It is developed by JetBrains, a software development company which builds tools for software developers and project managers.

It isn’t open-sourced and free like others and is offered via a subscription model which is billed yearly or annually for either organisations or individuals. It also has special offers for different categories including students, teachers, startups, and NGOs.

It’s best for developers who use tools that are in the JavaScript ecosystem, ranging from web, mobile, and cross-platform development. It is used by popular brands including Angular, Reuters, and Booking.

Notable Features

a. Unit Testing

With WebStorm, you can run and debug tests with popular unit testing frameworks such as Jest and Mocha, right in the IDE.

b. VCS integration

WebStorm also offers a simple User Interface (UI) to work with version control systems like Git and Mercurial, using a visual tool right in the IDE.

4. Sublime Text

Sublime Text
Sublime Text

Sublime Text is a source code editor that’s quite popular in the web development community. It is written in C++ and Python, with Sublime Text 3 as its current version.

Unlike other source code editors, Sublime Text isn’t free or open-sourced. According to its developers, it can be downloaded for free, but a license, which costs $80, has to be purchased for continued use.

Notable Features

a. GoTo Anything

This is the most popular feature of Sublime Text as it helps users to quickly navigate between and within files.

b. Package Ecosystem

Sublime Text has an API, powered with Python, which allows plugins to add extra features to it. These packages can be accessed through Package Control.

5. Brackets

Brackets
Brackets

Developed by Adobe, Brackets is a lightweight and modern source code editor built primarily for web development. According to its developers, it is a modern, open-source text editor that understands web design.

It is built by web developers and is supported by an active community.

Notable Features

a. Live Preview

While making changes to HTML and CSS in Brackets, you can immediately see those changes in effect. It does this by pushing those edits instantly to the browser. These updates are only paused when there’s an error in the HTML file and resumes when the error is corrected.

Other features include:

  • An inline editor, and
  • CSS preprocessor support

Conclusion

From this list of 5 best web development IDEs and source code editors, coupled with details and notable features highlighted, you should have already decided on the source code editor or IDE to use.

Still not sure of what to use? I’d suggest you pick Visual Studio Code, as it’s easy to use, has impressive extensions, beautiful themes, and boasts of shortcuts that can speed up your workflow. Be flexible enough to try others out if you find difficulties in using it.

Have we missed your favourite IDE? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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Joseph David is a FrontEnd Developer and Technical Writer
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