Review: 10 JavaScript editors compared

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Sublime Text, TextMate, and Brackets lead a rich field in capabilities and speed

JavaScript programmers have many good tools to choose from -- almost too many to keep track of. In this roundup, I discuss 10 text editors with good support for developing with JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS, and for documenting with Markdown. Why use an editor for JavaScript programming instead of an IDE? In a word: speed. 

The essential difference between editors and IDEs is that IDEs can debug and sometimes profile your code. IDEs also have support for application lifecycle management (ALM) systems. Many of the editors I discuss here support at least one version control system, often Git, so that criterion is less of a differentiator between IDEs and editors than it used to be.

As you’ll see by the scores, Sublime Text is still tops among JavaScript editors, for its speed as much as its convenient editing features. Brackets and TextMate are nearly tied for second place, though I should note that TextMate is a Mac-only product, and Brackets is free. All three of these editors support ALM systems, Node.js, CoffeeScript, TypeScript, and code analysis tools either natively or through add-ons. Brackets even includes JavaScript debugging. 

The other seven tools don’t rank with the above three, and I didn’t give them full evaluations. Nevertheless, they all have features worth recommending. Depending on the task at hand, you might find any one of them handy to have around. 

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