Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WebStorm Initial Review

I was up to nearly 1 AM last night getting familiar with JetBrains' WebStorm. My early opinion is simply wow! Since the beginning of the year I have been playing around with Node.js. Now, play time is over and I am trying to build real solutions with it. My current back-end of choice is Microsoft's ASP.NET MVC 3. It is a well made product which has served me well since MVC version one. But Node.js may  improve my server's responsiveness and availability to point where I can create new kinds of applications. So I want to explore and possibly switch over to Node.js.

The problem with Node.js so far has been the lack of a real IDE. I know there are a lot of Microsoft haters out there but Visual Studio is a world class IDE. Right out of the box, it is usable plus there are a large number of plug-ins available both free and paid.

My requirements of an IDE are:

  1. A capable editor
  2. Some form of auto-completion
  3. Debugger
  4. Able to use my code whether it is local or remote
  5. Integrates with Git.
I know that there are a lot of hard-core guys out there who scoff at using anything but the command line, but experience has taught me that being able to iterate quickly is key to meeting deadlines. I still use the command line but not for my day-to-day development work.


Initially I used TextWrangler on the Mac to code Node.js development. TextWrangler is a nice editor but it is just a text editor.

Next I looked at Nide. It shows a lot of promise but it is way to early in its development cycle.

Then there was Cloud9IDE. This is an exceptional product. It is very usable, has everything I was looking for in an IDE, but it has two problems. The first is that it cost $15 dollars a month or $180 a year. It does offer a free version for public projects, but since I like to earn money with my development, I don't want everything I build available for free to the public. Don't get me wrong, $180 is not an excessive amount of money, I just don't like subscriptions. The second was it is tied to the web. Most of the time I have Internet access, but the few times I don't have access have taught me never to be dependent on it. I love killing a few hours waiting at the airport or in a hotel room coding so much, that I always want to be able to do it.

Last night I was just googling for a Node.js IDE and I happened upon WebStorm from JetBrains. Since it was from JetBrains I was hopeful. I like one of their products, ReSharper. I am still on day one of my 30 day trial, but the I like it so far. I was able to point it to all of the code I have written so far without a hitch. I can edit, run, and most importantly debug it. The auto-completion is excellent. It is familiar with Node syntax and like ReSharper on Visual Studio, it is able to some form of parsing of my files and add the results to its auto-completion mechanism.

I still need to do some hard coding with it. There are a lot of things I haven't played around with yet; CoffeeScript, Git integration, and the duplicate code detector, so I will write a more in-depth review later. But I like everything I have tried so far and its $49 price is reasonable. I will do another post closer to the end of my 30 day trial, when I will have to pay to use it.