In today’s world, the selection of IDEs and code editors is so large that it becomes difficult to choose the right development tool. Modern software development often means working with multiple tools in different languages. Complexity can be a nasty headache for even the most experienced developer, so many people try to rely on integrated development environments (IDEs) to do most of the work. Besides source editors and automation, some of them even have smart code completion.
Some developers prefer to do all development in one tool and never leave it. Others don’t bother at all and develop in a simple code editor. Others plunge into choosing a very serious editor in order to automate their work as much as possible.
In this article, we’ll cover almost every major IDE you might try when developing React applications. We’ll also take a look at the IDE’s capabilities for React Native development, also taking both positive and negative aspects of the IDE into notice.
We will also cover the main features that should be included in an IDE, as well as the main differences between IDE and code editors.
In some cases, while reviewing the IDE, we’ll mention the plugins and packages that come with the tool that you might find helpful to install.
What is an IDE?
- Text editor fields;
- For some languages IDE needs a compiler or interpreter – an integrated program that translates your code into a computer-readable language;
- Syntax checking;
- Debugger is a built-in program that allows you to debug errors;
- Provide a suggestion;
- Viewing live web page inside the IDE for better understanding of the output;
- Syntax highlighter – parts of your code can be displayed in colors that correspond with different elements such as properties, tags, attributes, and all the rest. This allows you to see your work in a more structured way and helps you find errors;
- IDE should allow you to quickly go to the definition of class or method;
- Shortcuts for ease of access;
- Plugin support to extend functionality.
In general, there is no standard set of features an IDE should have. The more useful tools the IDE contains, the better for the developer.
What is the difference between IDE and Text Editor?
The short answer to this question is that code/text editors only allow you to write and edit, maybe with some advanced features. On the contrary, IDEs do all the things simple text editors do plus a huge number of more advanced stuff you can’t do with text editors. Above you can see features that usually come with a good IDE. Basically, they equip you with everything you need to turn code into a functioning app or program.
For some people, the true distinction between an IDE and a plain text editor is the ability to compile your code right inside the tool.
A code editor is roughly an advanced text editor for working with code. As a rule, the most important functions of a code editor are syntax highlighting, indicating errors, and working with files – these differ from a regular text editor.
How to choose an IDE?
Choosing an IDE, you need to be guided by the main four factors:
- Convenience of the user interface;
- Number of features;
- Language support. Here, do not forget about the long-term perspective – some day it may turn out you will suddenly need to develop in another language. Keeping to the same IDE will be great. So, it’s worth choosing an environment that supports multiple programming languages;
- The price. There are many free open source solutions out there. However, the usual trend is this: the cost depends on the number of features available.
You can also look at other factors such as:
- Work speed;
- Ecosystem. What extensions are offered by the community and the manufacturer itself;
- It’s good if the IDE can open very large files and not freeze.
- Is the search in source files easy?
- Integration with various build systems
- Scalability over huge projects (projects with hundreds thousands of lines of code)
- Do You Need Extensibility?
- Remember: there is no tool that will cover all your needs, so somewhere in your path of IDE choices there will be trade-offs.
Now – do you really need an IDE at all? Tools like Visual Studio or WebStorm try to cover everything out there and provide the widest possible range of features. Here’s the thing, though: we know many advanced developers who prefer the simplicity and speed of code editors in their work. It’s hard to beat a good, strong editor that lets you easily navigate through your files and code. Sublime Text is an example of one that’s really taken the programming world by storm.
What is React?
In this block, we will briefly write about the technologies for which we will evaluate the IDE, namely React.
React is an open-source, component-based front-end library responsible for making an interactive User Interface or view layer. The syntax is written in JSX which makes it easier for the programmer as the tags created to call a particular component. It has huge community support and is currently maintained by Facebook.
It uses virtual DOM to fill the data in the HTML DOM. Changing the DOM elements instead of reloading complete DOM every time makes the virtual DOM work faster than the others.
Best React IDE
Are you just starting your journey as a programmer?
Try CodeSandbox as a web-based playground.
Want the best free solution?
VSCode would be the best option.
Are you ready to pay for something?
Then take a look at WebStorm.
Want something quick and easy?
Ready to take the time to learn but get a ton of value later?
VIM will be the best investment.
And finally: don’t worry too much. All of these tools will allow you to do a good job if you are a good programmer. 😉
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Extension or Plugins: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/
VScode is a great IDE to start up your work as it supports a lot of programming languages and has lots of features that will help you through your journey.
- It has built-in support for IntelliSense code completion and also a very good understanding of semantic code.
- Imported Modules;
- Integration with GitHub;
- Wide theme selections;
- Integrated tools for testing the code;
- Version controlling via extensions;
- Built-in debugger;
- Supports syntax highlighting;
- Integrated terminal;
- Go to Definition;
- Peek definition;
- You can also jump to any class definition;
- Tooling for JSX/React, Html, JSON.
Of course, you may not need all the features of VS Code (which is highly unlikely if you are into any serious stuff) and hence might want to choose something else, but this thing just works for me in all scenarios.
Of course, we have not listed all the features, and most likely you will not use them all, but these things work very well with regard to React development.
Note that by using countless plugins you can change the entire coding process and drastically speed up the development process.
- It’s Free;
- Available for different platforms;
- Over 20000 plugins in the marketplace;
- Supports React.js IntelliSense;
- Low memory usage;
- Multi Language;
- Great customization;
- It is an open source project so you can also contribute to the continuously developing community on GitHub.
- Lags sometimes;
- The code check feature is not that great;
- Debugging features might be more helpful;
- Including a built-in screen for package management;
- Support is not great sometimes.
React.js Starter Kit is a react application front-end starter kit built with help of Bootstrap. It is a cross-platform project template powered by Node.js – based development tools like Gulp, Webpack, BrowserSync, Karma, Protractor to speed up React project initialization.
Languages: Angular, React, Vue, Node.js, Ionic, React Native
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Extension or Plugins: https://plugins.jetbrains.com/webstorm
The quality of Webstorm IDE is evidenced by the fact that it is used by the overwhelming majority of large organizations.
- In-built debugger support;
- In-built testing capabilities;
- Syntax error detection;
- Integration with Git;
- Integration with Mercurial;
- The built-in web server helps to run projects online;
- Code completion for React and JSX;
- It has a Live Edit feature which allows you to immediately see the changes in the browser as soon as you change the code;
- Version Control System;
- Built in Terminal.
One of the best features is that by default WebStorm is configured to autosave files as you work on them, and when you switch to other IDEs, you feel the beauty of WebStorm. The other neat thing is that WebStorm has a built-in version control system that commits every time a file is saved. It’s separate from Git commits.
- Native integration with source control systems such as GitHub, Git, as well as Subversion, Perforce, and Mercurial;
- Flexibility of settings;
- Good integration with Angular, TypeScript, Vue, React by default;
- Large number of plugins;
- Excellent indentation, tips on how to simplify the code and basic code validation for errors;
- Very useful merge tool.
- Not great in terms of performance;
- Slow working with lots of projects;
- Relatively complex settings;
- It is not open-source.
If you are looking for a mature platform, this might be the right option because it is known for its outstanding development features for the last 15 years.
In terms of React development there are the following features:
- WebStorm comes with over 50 plugins to make React development easier;
- Navigates through JSX tags using breadcrumbs and colorful highlighting for the tag tree
- Integrates with linters, such as ESLint, for JSX code
We consider WebStorm to be the best-paid IDE on the market for React development, thanks to its many features, plugins, and good documentation.
Reactide is one of the few and the first IDEs dedicated to React development only. It’s a cross-platform desktop application that offers a custom simulator, making build-tool and server configuration unnecessary.
- Seamless browser integration;
- Live visualization;
- Build tools inside;
- Integrated node server;
- Integrated terminal.
- Live view of components inside IDE;
- Thanks to live reloading within the development environment, you do not need to flip flop between code files and browser to check the changes made;
- Cross-platform tool.
- No plugins;
- No community in comparison with other tools.
If you want to quickly develop a React project or change it, then there is no better tool than ReactIDE. The tool works quickly and has a number of features useful specifically for React development.
Languages: Almost all
Platform: Linux, macOS
Extension or Plugins: https://vimawesome.com/
Vim is a very old IDE. Well, at least as an IDE. It is a very advanced text editor, and you’ll never make the developers who love it leave it and force them to switch to VScode or WebStorm. It is very well-known among developers because of its configuration properties. It is free and highly customizable.
Vim has search and syntax highlighting features and is super lightweight. Thus, it can handle very, very large files. However, it will take a very long time to set up Vim. The tool has a graphical interface, but – you might have guessed – it needs to be customized. Even for the mouse to work, you need to sweat. By default, Vim is controlled by keyboard and keyboard shortcuts. Vim can be a great IDE if you customize it and become familiar with it inside and out. But if time is tight, this is probably not the best choice.
- It takes very little space on RAM to run efficiently;
- Different tabs and windows can help work on different projects at the same time;
- Extensive plugin system;
- Support for hundreds of programming languages and file formats;
- Powerful search and replace.
- It is possible to install on a very large number of operating systems;
- Deep editor settings, you can customize it all as you need;
- The code editing process is speedy.
- Due to the fact that it is terminal, it is very fast but very difficult to learn;
- It takes a long time to get used to the user interface;
An important detail in favor of Vim is that a huge number of engineers in top corporations use VIM, such as Facebook.
Notable Plugins for React Development
vim-jsx – Syntax highlighting and indenting for JSX.
vim-react-snippets – A set of snippets for Vim to work with Facebook’s React library.
vim-babel – Another set of snippets for Vim to work with Facebook’s React library.
GNU Emacs Editor
Languages: Language agnostic
Platform: GNU, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, MacOS, MS Windows and Solaris
Extension or Plugins: https://github.com/emacs-tw/awesome-emacs
GNU Emacs is a text editor that comes with a basic user interface, but very useful functionalities. The tool belongs to the text editors family known for their extensibility. GNU Emacs will be very familiar to those who know how to work with the Vim editor. This editor can be called the most simplistic editor available that, however, misses none of the important features.
- Well documented references available;
- Supports Unicode files;
- Capabilities to install and download the extensions;
- It can do a lot more than React Native app development.
- Full Unicode support;
- High-speed coding environment;
- Syntax highlighting;
- A lot of useful tutorials;
- Theme customization;
- Difficult to get used to;
- The initial setup time is very long;
- Lots of features: discovering them might take a long time.
As for React, Emacs does require a bit of work and plugins to really get it to work efficiently.
web-mode.el – It is an autonomous emacs major-mode for editing web templates. It is compatible with many languages including JSX (React).
Languages: Almost language agnostic
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Extension or Plugins: –
Looking for the best combination of Emacs and Vim, this is the editor that will provide you the best services. Spacemacs is a community-driven Emacs distribution, thus the best editor that takes the best from Emacs and Vim.
- A great user interface, one of the best features here in comparison to Vim;
- Well organized key bindings;
- Git integration;
- Simple query system to quickly find available layers, packages and more.
- Available on several platforms;
- The documentation provided here is more than enough;
- Spacemacs has a great community meaning you will never be stuck on a problem for long;
- Great if you already are a massive Emacs or Vim fan;
- Can configure eslint support;
- Can use prettier.js for formatting files on save.
- The CPU usage is not very optimized;
- The tool gets stuck sometimes.
Emacs relies on community-written open-source packages for basically every IDE feature for every language. We think it’s great: you can develop the package for yourself. There’s definitely a learning curve, but also there are some really nice tools to help orient yourself in emacs.
React layer – ES6 and JSX ready configuration layer for React. It will automatically recognize .jsx and .react.js files. One package layer for React integration.
Price: from $0 – $99
Languages: Almost language agnostic
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
Extension or Plugins: there no one directory, but there are many plugins
Sublime Text is a powerful text editor for almost every language. It’s lightweight, feature-rich, and supported on popular platforms. Users only need one license to use Sublime Text on any computer. The tool is fast, integrated with multiple tools, and supports React and React Native and all the web programming languages. The Sublime Text provides great plugin support to enhance the capabilities of the editor. It is currently available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Sublime Text uses a custom UI toolkit optimized for speed and beauty, taking advantage of native functionality on each platform.
- Sublime Text supports auto completion of codes and also the variables created by the user;
- The command palette helps in setting the syntax of your code;
- A great library of API and packages is beneficial for developers;
- Supports setting key binds and macros for easier coding;
- One of the awesome features of the editor is showing a condensed preview of your long code which helps you to move through your code faster.
- Easy to navigate;
- Possible to expand functionality;
- Multi-line editing possible;
- Great keyboard shortcuts and multi-selection options;
- You can quickly go to the definition of class or method.
- Not open source;
- Large files are slow to load;
- Not a complete IDE;
- Not free – a big issue for a lot of developers;
- The free mode has a lot of annoying notifications.
We are not great fans of using Sublime for react development, because there are other better and free options available. If you are already using Sublime in your organization and want to include React in your project, this definitely might be a good option, no need to scratch your head to find anything else.
react-native-snippets – It is a collection of Sublime Text Snippets for react-native
Rekit is an IDE focused specifically for developing apps using React. Rekit studio works as an IDE as well as a toolkit that can be used for developing web apps using React, React router and Redux. Rekit studio runs on a node server and is an npm package, and for that reason, it runs in your browser. Developers can utilize many features with Rekit Studio, including code editing, code generation, dependency diagramming, refactoring, building, unit tests, and an easier way to navigate code. The main feature we like about Rekit is that every React app has its own Rekit studio, so things remain simple and controlled. However, we wouldn’t recommend Rekit for enterprise-grade React js development.
- Unit tests;
- Code generation;
- Support for Less and Sass;
- React router;
- Command line tools;
- You can also extend Rekit functionality by developing your own plugins.
Languages: JS, Ruby, Python, Perl etc.
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
Extension or Plugins: https://registry.brackets.io/
Brackets is a very lightweight and lightning-fast web development IDE, but looking more like a source code editor. Brackets is one of those IDEs built mostly for web developers. Brackets has got huge plugin support and is entirely free to use. Created by Adobe Systems, this open-source software can help you build code in all the web programming languages out there. Brackets is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Function finding and quick project switching are some notable features it offers.
- Live Preview that allows you to get a real-time connection to your browser; whenever you make a change, you immediately see the changes on the screen;
- Support for the preprocessor;
- Tons of plugin support;
- Quick-Edit features enabled;
- Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS;
- Allows collaborative working on the code for multiple developers;
- Includes code-folding and syntax highlighting;
- Inline editors.
- Extension in Google Chrome. The main feature of the Brackets editor, highlighted by many developers, is real-time communication with Google Chrome. With this mechanism’s help, the developer can immediately observe how all these changes will be displayed in the browser after a change is made;
- Widely developed hotkey system;
- The main feature that distinguishes Brackets from other JS editors is the Extract function. The extraction function allows you to extract information directly from the PSD – such as fonts, colors, and dimensions, with pure CSS and no contextual code references;
- Code Minification.
- Few extensions compared to other editors on the market;
- Lack of support for server-side languages;
- Difficult Project Management;
- Low Performance while working with large files.
When it comes to react, there are plugins available to enhance Brackets functionality for speed development using React components.
Brackets is the best web IDE if you are looking for an editor that understands web design. It comes with a great set of visual tools, such as website form creators or other preprocessor supports. It has been created by web designers for web designers.
Note: On September 1, 2021, Adobe will end support for Brackets. If you would like to continue using, maintaining, and improving Brackets, you may fork the project on GitHub.
Price: Free, open-source
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
Extension or Plugins: https://atom.io/packages
- Ease of use with excellent navigation UI;
- Collaborative support for multiple developers;
- In-built auto-complete and suggestion feature;
- Syntax highlighting;
- Atom has a built-in package manager which keeps on updating packages; you can also search for packages or start creating your own packages as well;
- It also has a feature in which you can drag and drop a module of your file or whole file in a different file;
- Cross-platform editing;
- Find, preview, and replace text as you type in a file or across all your projects.
- Completely free to use;
- A large number of packages available for every need;
- Instant file switching;
- Packages. Atom has a built-in CoffeeScript package manager;
- The built-in package manager is great;
- Straightforward interface to learn and use;
- Git Integration.
- The atom is slow to start;
- Files over 10-15 MB may cause crashes;
- Documentation is not great;
- Lack of Code Execution;
- Slower than other top editors;
- Based on Electron – therefore speed issues.
Atom is truly hackable and can be customized using tons of Node.js-based plugins to extend atom functionality to your needs. Due to so much support from different communities and an awesome UI interface and features it has attracted a lot of developers.
- zenchat-snippets – It is a collection of snippets for react-native, redux and ES6.
There are a lot of other IDE and Editors on the Internet. We’ve gathered the best IDEs for react development in 2021 for you. In this collection, you will find IDEs that will greatly help you ease your workflow.
Choosing the right IDE will have a very strong effect on your performance as a developer. Each IDE has its own set of features, advantages and disadvantages that distinguish them. We’ve also discussed all the best IDEs for developing React applications. If you move to an IDE to help you with React development, we guarantee you won’t go back to plain editors.
Hopefully, you will find just the right one for your next web development project. After all, it is the developer who writes the code, not the IDE.
Short Recap FAQ
What is React?
What is an IDE?
IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. It is a complex tool with a wide range of features that helps you to cut the development time drastically by simplifying everyday tasks.
What is the difference between IDE and Code editor?
IDE is a more complex tool for creating web applications, while code editor allows you to quickly develop applications and make changes to them, e.g. it is very easy to learn and fast working tool.
What are the best IDEs for React?
- Visual Studio;
- VIM Editor;
- GNU Emacs;
- Sublime Text;
- Rekit Studio;