Tools

Review: The 10 best JavaScript editors

Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, Brackets, and Atom rise to the top, but several others are worth considering

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At a Glance
  • Sublime Text 3.3126

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    on Sublime HQ
  • Visual Studio Code 1.11.1

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    on Microsoft
  • Brackets 1.9

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    on Adobe Systems
  • Atom 1.15.0

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    on GitHub
  • Komodo Edit 10.2.2

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    on ActiveState
  • Notepad++ 7.3.3

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    on Notepad++
  • BBEdit 11

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    on Bare Bones Software
  • TextMate 2.0-rc4

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    on MacroMates
  • Emacs 25.1

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    on GNU Project
  • Vim 8.0

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    on Vim Online

JavaScript programmers have many good tools to choose from—almost too many to keep track of. In this article, 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, and IDEs have support for application lifecycle management (ALM) systems. Many of the editors we 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 and Visual Studio Code are tops among JavaScript editors—Sublime Text for its speed as much as its convenient editing features, and Visual Studio Code for even better features and speed that is almost as good. Brackets takes third place. While TextMate ranked high on my list two years ago, its capabilities haven't really kept up with new developments.

Most likely, you'll find your JavaScript editor of choice in Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code, or Brackets. But several other tools—Atom, BBEdit, Komodo Edit, Notepad++, Emacs, and Vim—all have something to recommend them. Depending on the task at hand, you might find any one of them handy to have around.

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