Dan Newcome on technology

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Editing Javascript

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One of the things I heard over and over again when I first started doing large applications with Javascript was “which IDE do you use?”. At the time I was using Visual Studio. Believe it or not, ancient Visual Studio had pretty good debugging capabilities with Internet Explorer. Everyone knows now that duo did not last.

There was a long stretch of time where I was using the editor of the month. Sublime text or something along those lines. Extensible editors were the rage but it didn’t feel like Javascript was a first-class citizen. I used to tell people that I didn’t use an IDE, which was not really true looking back. I had (and still have to some extent) a collection of VIM scripts that did things like open my editor windows and manage files on the left side. Searching open files and switching buffers. Compared to event to the old Visual Studio it was a little crude. But it was fast and it worked.

Later on I worked for a startup doing Python development. Intellij’s PyCharm was the IDE that we used there and it was amazing. Just every little thing catered to the language and I realized that the shortcuts from their Java IDE were the same. Later when I moved back to doing JS I tried out WebStorm and was hooked.

WebStorm is an amazing IDE. JetBrains did a great job at making it a seamless and consistent experience. Over time I think I kept buying it and extending the license. I ended up using Atom on a team at Yahoo along with the other devs and forgot about WebStorm for a while. Atom was a good editor. It was cool because it was written in Javascript. It was a JS app. While this had a certain appeal, there were some limitations that irked me like speed and opening large files. Coming from VIM this is kind of hard to compete with but it bothered me nonetheless.

I joined a new startup and loaded up WebStorm for the first time in a few months and realized my license had expired again. Not wanting to expense this on my first day of a new job, I opened up MS Visual Studio Code (VSCode). I had it installed out of curiosity that MS was doing an open cross-platform editor written in JS like Atom of yore.

I installed some plugins and started using it. Some people at work asked me what I was using immediately. People started using it. It was catching on for some reason. One guy found that it had a plugin for Emmet HTML generation and he was hooked. People were starting to use it and it seemed like overnight everyone was there. I never even advocated for it, it just happened.

Whatever the case JS is a first class citizen and there are tools out there that rock for dealing with it. The days when I tell people I don’t use an IDE for Javascript are over.

Written by newcome

January 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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