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November 4, 2021

5 Best IDE’s For JavaScript (And TypeScript) in 2021

I’m a software engineer of 15 years and a while back I was wondering what the best JavaScript IDE was, here is what I came up with.

1) JetBrains’ WebStorm (Any JetBrains’ IDE Really)

Phpstorm Webstorm Javascript

All of JetBrains’ IDEs (PHPStorm, IntelliJ, Rider, etc.) have the same JavaScript support that WebStorm does. Whichever IDE of theirs that you choose is going to be amazing for JavaScript! They have dark mode, real-time syntax highlighting, typescript support, etc.

JetBrains is so far ahead of their competition that it’s really hard for me to even come up with competitors! Go out and buy a subscription to their IDE’s if you haven’t already. It’s a dream and you won’t be disappointed.

2) Chrome Developer Console

Most people don’t consider Chrome itself to be an IDE. And it’s not a full-fledge IDE in that you can’t save your back-end code directly from Chrome itself. It also doesn’t have any TypeScript support (because the browser only gets the compiled result of TypeScript).

That said, Chrome is an amazing environment to do real-time JavaScript / CSS debugging. Unmatched really. You can set breakpoints, change the JavaScript, CSS, or HTML code on the fly as the program is running. It’s an amazing experience if you’re not already doing this day to day while writing JavaScript.

And I get that I’m cheating a little bit using Chrome as an option, but it’s seriously hard to come up with competitors to JetBrains right now. You have think a little outside the box or have a weird circumstance to find a different winner.

3) AWS Cloud 9

This is an interesting option in that it’s an entirely online IDE written entirely in JavaScript with a NodeJS backend. I could see situations where this could come in handy. For instance, you can have several developers looking / working on this code simultaneously (although I could also see how that might be a disaster). Cloud 9 also has TypeScript support!

Anyway the pricing looks like it would ultimately come out cheaper than a JetBrains Subscription. So if you’re desperate for an alternative this is worth checking out.

If you’re looking for a free (purely online) JavaScript playground, JSFiddle is an interesting alternative. And there are several other websites very similar to JSFiddle if this is what you’re looking for.

4) NotePad++

If you’re running Windows and simply need something lightweight that can edit JavaScript files with some basic syntax highlighting, Notepad++ is a massive step up from most other Notepad apps.

It’s a particularly helpful tool if you need to pretty-print XML or JSON using one of its many plugins. It doesn’t have explicit TypeScript support. That said there are plugins available and if you could make it work in combination with the command line.

5) Atom

Atom doesn’t make the list because it’s a great JavaScript IDE. It’s not. In fact I kind-of hate it.

That said, if you’re working on a Mac and you’re not willing to fork over cash for a JetBrains product like some type of insane person… Atom actually may be one of your best options. And I hate saying that because I really don’t care for this IDE all that much.

Honorable Mention

The following IDE’s exist, and in some instances plugins exist like JetBrains’ Resharper for Visual Studio to make them perform quite well. That said, they don’t really register for me as options because JetBrains honestly wipes the floor with them in my opinion.

  • Visual Studio (with ReSharper installed, so JetBrains wins again)
  • VSCode (Has TypeScript Support)
  • TextMate (Another MacOS option)
  • Sublime (I prefer NotePad++, but some people swear by Sublime as their preferred Windows Notepad app)
  • NetBeans (In case you hate yourself)
  • Eclipse (In case you REALLY hate yourself)
  • VIM (In case you’re a 50+ year old Linux developer with a strong Unix background)

Shaun Poore worked as a professional software developer for 15 years before transitioning into content creation and digital product businesses. Shaun's currently focused on providing as many people as possible with actionable advice and tools they can use to succeed online, without the fluff or BS that too often plagues this industry.