Top 7 Code Editors for Front-End Development


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The primary job of a developer is to write and edit source code. That’s why a text editor a.k.a a source code editor is such an important tool for them. In fact, a good code editor can significantly improve your working experience and speed up your workload.

Today, we will discuss the top 7 code editors that are a good fit for frontend developers. Please note that this is a subjective opinion and every individual will have different preferences. Now, let’s look at the list below.

7. Notepad ++

Notepad++ is a popular, free open source code editor that is lightweight and easy to use. It is a great code editor for beginners because it offers a distraction-free environment for you to work.

Notepad++ offers more than 50 features including the ability to open multiple documents via the tab interface, macro recording and playback, Syntax Folding or Highlighting, and PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expression) search/replace. In fact, it also supports user-defined Syntax Highlighting and Folding.

A helpful feature of Notepad++ which will save you much time is the auto-completion for words functions and function parameters hint.

You can also customize the user interface of Notepad++ any way you want. If you don’t like the default theme, you can choose from the 20 different themes that come with it.

Pros

1. It supports a huge range of languages.

2. Resource friendly.

3. Ability to open multiple files in tabbed pages.

4. User-defined syntax highlighting and folding.

5. Multiple cursors for code editing and a document map.

6. Macros.

Cons

1. The design is outdated.

2. Lack of packages.

3. Does not contain a very effective plugin management system.

Official website https://notepad-plus-plus.org/

6. Brackets

Brackets by Adobe is an open source software which is licensed under the MIT license. It is available for all platforms and is a very suitable code editor for frontend development. Brackets is optimized for CSS, HTML and JavaScript editing.

In fact, it lets you do that quick CSS hack, create and edit page templates or set up child themes in a quick and easy way.

One thing that makes Brackets unique is that it is created using a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This means that frontend devs can easily hack or extend the program as they are already familiar with the language.

Now, let’s talk about some features. Although this code editor has not matured yet, being a modern piece of software, it still packs all the standard features like find and replace, code completion suggestions, split windows for working on multiple files at once and code highlighting.

Pros –

1. Quick editing feature for editing all CSS associated with any HTML element.

2. Sophisticated color picker/converter

3. JSLint support – Useful for quickly checking JavaScript Code.

4. Live preview feature

5. Highly extendable – It is very easy to extend Brackets via hacking and installing extensions.

Cons

1. The extension manager requires some improvement.

Official website http://brackets.io/

5. Atom

Atom is a free, open source and cross-platform code editor that is built by Github. It contains all the essential features of a modern code editor like autocomplete, Syntax Highlighting, the ability to customize its interface or change themes etc.

What truly makes Atom a desirable choice for developers is the ability to add so many additional features with the help of ‘Packages’. You can install popular packages directly from inside Atom and add extensions that can do anything from changing your color schemes or showing the file size of different projects.

You can even create your own packages and upload to your Github repository.

Pros

1. Highly extendible due to packages.

2. Fuzzy Search function – Helps you to find something across multiple tabs.

3. Integration with Github

Cons

1. The performance of the software needs to be improved.

Official website https://atom.io/

4. WebStorm

Unlike the previous code editors in this list, WebStorm is not free. It is a subscription-based software that costs $5.90 monthly for individual use and $12.90 monthly for organizations. However, they do offer a 30 days free trial period which gives you the opportunity to test the product.

As a paid software, you can expect a boatload of features from WebStorm like on-the-fly error detection, intelligent code completion, refactoring for JavaScript, TypeScript, stylesheet languages etc and powerful navigation.

It is built on the open source IntelliJ Platform which allows you to work on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node.js and much more.

Pros

1. Advanced coding assistance for Angular, React, Vue.js and Meteor.

2. Built-in editor for client-side code and Node.js apps.

3. Easy integration with Karma test runner, Mocha, Jest, and Protractor. Very useful for visual testing.

4.Code quality tools and project templates.

Cons

1. It is a paid software.

2. Can be resource intensive and slow to start.

Official website https://www.jetbrains.com/webstorm/

3. VIM

VIM is an old but free and highly configurable code editor. It supports numerous file formats, hundreds of programming languages and has an extensive plugin system.

Fun fact – VIM is also known as ‘charityware’ due to its vibrant and helpful community.

It can be difficult to work in VIM as it does not have a mouse but once you get used to it, you will find that it is no less than any other text editors. In fact, on top of containing all the useful features of modern text editors, it is highly customizable and can be extended with ease.

Some useful scripts that you can install in VIM include snipMate, SuperTab Continued, and NERD Tree.

Another useful feature of VIM is that you can use it over Telnet and SSH connections to run remote instances of VIM in order to edit web pages that reside on remote servers.

Pros

1. VIM is portable.

2. Very good for UNIX users.

3. Can edit web pages located on remote servers easily using Telnet and SSH connections.

4. Highly customizable and portable.

Cons

1. The IDE is not as user-friendly as modern text editors.

2. There is a learning curve for using VIM.

Official website https://www.vim.org/

2. Sublime Text

Sublime is a lightweight and fast code editor that is built in Python and C/C++

You can evaluate Sublime text for free but in order to get a license, you have to spend $80. The cool thing is that there is no official statement regarding how long the evaluation period will be in effect. So, you can continue to use it for free if you so desire.

Sublime text editor is now more than a decade old and has gathered a loyal fan following. Any developer who has worked on both Atom and Sublime will quickly notice the resemblance between them both visually and due to their similar features.

In fact, many people think that Atom is based on Sublime as it also contains the package feature which lets you install plugins in order to add new features or customize the interface.

Of course, Sublime also contains all the necessary features that should be present in a text editor like Code Folding, Autocomplete and Syntax Highlighting.

Official website https://www.sublimetext.com/

Pros

1. Stable and resource friendly – Can open large files faster than other editors.

2. Highly customizable with packages.

3. Can be used to sync files on a remote FTP server and preview code that are written in Markdown.

Cons

1. It can be a little intimidating for beginners.

2 The development of the software and bug fixes can be slow as the team behind Sublime is not very large.

1. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code a.k.a VSCode is a relatively new, free cross-platform open source code editor developed by Microsoft.

Although it is new in the field, it quickly becoming the favorite among many developers due to its modern interface and highly useful features.

A useful feature of VSCode is IntelliSense which goes beyond Syntax Highlighting and Autocomplete. It provides smart completions based on function definitions, variable types, and imported modules.

It also has Git commands built-in. Due to this, you can stage commands, review diffs and make commits right from the editor.

Aside from these, it also has a good plugin ecosystem. So, you can install packages like in Atom or Sublime in order to customize it or extend its features.

Pros

1. It has all the useful elements of a modern code editor like Atom but feels faster and is more stable.

2. High level of customization can be done.

3. Developed by Microsoft. Expect fewer bugs.

Cons

1. Relatively new code editor. It will take some time to mature and build a good community fan following.

Official website https://code.visualstudio.com/

Conclusion

Remember, these are just my personal opinion based on using the software and reading reviews. If you are already comfortable using a certain editor, there is no need to change it just because it wasn’t mentioned in this article.

However, if you ever feel that the code editor you use could use some changes, feel free to try out some of our suggestions and see how that works out for you. You never know, one of them might become your new favorite.

Rooney

I am a full-stack web developer with over 13 years of experience. I love learning new things and are passionate about JavaScript development both on the front-end and back-end.

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