Tooling - the orphan child of web development?

Martin Häusler on April 01, 2018

Once in a Dev Meetup... Even though I consider myself mostly a backend developer, from time to time I try to get my feet wet in the fr... [Read Full]
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The article seems to talk about WebStorm does this stuff and then goes on to lament how there's not a decent frontend IDE. I'm confused...


If you look closely, it also says that WebStorm is not an option for me. I'm not going to pay on a subscription basis for an IDE. We talk about non-commercial tools here. And the situation there looks... grim.


You get paid to build software that makes other people’s jobs easier, correct? Then why balk at paying someone else for software that makes your job easier?

Carpenters don’t forge their own hammers. They go to the store and buy a quality one. It’s an investment.

Well maybe because you will actually own the hammer afterwards, rather than just renting it?

Also, in the web dev community where everything is open source, isn't it a little odd that the way tooling works is dictated by Jetbrains in a closed-source fashion? It just doesn't fit. Or maybe using an IDE is such a rare occurence in web dev that most people just don't care, and the few who do go to Jetbrains?

Jetbrains offers a perpetual license on all their products...


Given that a commercial version of IntelliJ costs the same as WebStorm, I would argue that that is hardly a fair comparison though (and that this is more a testament to the excellent work that JetBrains puts into their IDEs)

Jetbrains products are very good, I'm not going to argue about that :) If you look for IDEs in the Java world, there is Eclipse, Netbeans, IntelliJ Community Edition, all of which are open source and free to use. I would not even claim that any of them is strictly better than the others, there is a competition going on. I personally never felt the need for IntelliJ Ultimate. And in the web world there is WebStorm and... notmuch else?


Which is fair enough (and your choice) but it doesn't seem fair to say there's not an IDE that does this stuff when there is (and it's very cheap). It's worth having a WebStorm subscription even if just to demonstrate that there is a market for JS IDEs


Web developers don't miss these features, because they don't know any better. ;-)

Some years ago it was all too easy to become a web developer, because the technology was in its infants. Some basic scripting knowledge in Perl or PHP was enough for the server side to generate some HTML. The clients were humble in those days, all they wanted was a web "site" (not a web "app"). And there was no need for responsive design (actually nothing worth being called "design" at all) and no client-side functionality, except for what you could fiddle with jQuery. So Javascript was of no importance and also not considered to be a decent language. So yes, a text editor was indeed enough for building a website.

But of course it's very different today and there really is a need for a decent IDE.


My thoughts exactly. Projects tend to never stay small these days. Which is why I am wondering why there is no decent community-driven IDE for it.


Mmm... No, I'm not convinced.

If I wanted to use an IDE for web development, I could. But instead, I got away from using an IDE because they felt slow and bloated. VS Code feels great to me in that regard.

If you still miss some of those features in VS Code, it's probably because you need a new mindset for web development. As you pointed out, knowing how many subclasses exist is pretty "meh" for JavaScript - you shouldn't even mention that. And the following just confirms what I'm saying:

I am amazed how web devs build large application these days, equipped with what is in comparison nothing more than makeshift hammers consisting of sticks tied to stones.

Or maybe you just see them as such, because you can't see their value?


A fairly frequent (though sometimes merely strongly implied) retort is that command line editors can also be very powerful but require much more skill — which you yourself as an IDE user maybe don’t have. I’m always baffled by that response, since I have no desire to expend skill and effort on those functionalities which, as you mention, are purely the basics of any proper IDE (in the same way that I don’t see typing speed as a developer skill).


Agreed. I am aware that VIM, Emacs and so on can be very powerful in the right hands. However, I have no intention to step into these realms. I'm not the biggest fan of command line interfaces to begin with, and most certainly I do not want to edit my code in those.

However, typing speed is an issue. It is because of laggy typing that I switched from Eclipse to IntelliJ. I wouldn't say that any one is strictly better than the other, but a laggy cursor in a text editor is something that drives me absolutely crazy, so I can understand this criticism to some extent ;)


Ah, I wasn’t referring to lagging/stalling, but rather to a person’s ability to to e.g. type 100 word per minute. Lagging/stalling is indeed an issue for some IDEs, and also for me the reason why I very luch prefer Intellij over Eclipse.


Just saying, if you (the reader) code only for fun and don't want to invest in a proper IDE to save time, you can skip the subscription and make a one time payment and get the perpetual license webstorm (stick to one version) or the the Visual Studio (not code) free license (I forgot the name of the Microsoft Dev program).

I can guess why strong typed super scripts didn't caught (TypeScript)

  • most of the projects are small
  • the adoption rate is pretty slow (jQuery is still hot), this includes tools , most of the devs are still debug-ing JavaScript with console.log
  • for many front end devs JavaScript is the first and main language, they don't know or have time to learn from the other ecosystems or have a proper CS background (to even know about Strong Typed languages)
  • the devs they are busy learning all these new frameworks
  • most of the entry JS tutorials/bootcamps don't even mention TypeScript

So after paying for one year of webstorm, you could stop paying for updates and continue using the software (without future updates but still). You recognize the constant changes in web development but refuse to pay a provider that is willing to keep up with these changes? Webstorm is an investment as others have mentioned, and if I make my living off web development then I certainly am willing to pay to be able to use the best recources available.

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