Code editors are the go-to tool for anyone looking to make more profound development and customization in Web Design and Development. They can make the work much easier than standard text editors.Welcome to my list of Top 5 Best Free Code Editors for Web Developers. This list is prepared from my experience of working as full-stack web developer, if you think I have missed any code editor that you think is the best, please do not hesitate to mention it on comments.
From developers of Github, Atom is an open source text editor that’s modern, approachable, yet hackable to the core. Atom can be customized to do anything but also use productively without ever touching a config file. Best feature of Atom is it’s built-in package manager, you can search for and install new packages, or if you are that kind of developer you can create your own and share to community. From my personal point of view I think Atom is the most used Code editors within this list of best free code editors for web developers.
- Cross-platform editing. Atom works across operating systems. You can use it on OS X, Windows, or Linux.
- Built-in package manager. Choose from thousands of open source packages that add new features and functionality to Atom—or build a package from scratch and publish it for everyone else to use.
- Smart auto-completion. Atom helps you write code faster with a smart, flexible autocomplete.
- File system browser. Easily browse and open a single file, a whole project, or multiple projects in one window.
- Multiple panes. Split your Atom interface into multiple panes to compare and edit code across files.
- Find and replace. Find, preview, and replace text as you type in a file or across all your projects.
- Themes. Atom comes pre-installed with four UI and eight syntax themes in both dark and light colors. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can also install themes created by the Atom community or create your own.
Visual Studio Code
Developed by the team of experts at Microsoft – Visual Studio Code is a code editor redefined and optimized for building and debugging modern web and cloud applications. Visual Studio Code is free and available on your favorite platform – Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows. If you are also using Visual Studio then Visual Studio Code will be one of you best code editing tool to develop for web platforms, because it also brings IntelliSense and Debugging features. Starting last year, I have been using Visual Studio Code daily. It has earned my respect to be in this list of best free code editors for web developers.
- IntelliSense. Go beyond syntax highlighting and autocomplete with IntelliSense, which provides smart completions based on variable types, function definitions, and imported modules.
- Debugging. Debug code right from the editor. Launch or attach to your running apps and debug with break points, call stacks, and an interactive console.
- Built-in Git. Working with Git and other SCM providers has never been easier. Review diffs, stage files, and make commits right from the editor. Push and pull from any hosted SCM service.
- Extensions. Want even more features? Install extensions to add new languages, themes, debuggers, and to connect to additional services. Extensions run in separate processes, ensuring they won’t slow down your editor.
- Better Syntax Highlighting.
- Code refactoring.
Brackets is a modern text editor that makes it easy to design in the browser. It’s crafted from the ground up for web designers and front-end developers. Brackets has been a best tool for Front-end web designers because of it’s integration with other Adobe products like Photoshop. It is one of the most used code editors used for PSD to HTML conversion, hence it is on our list of best free code editors for web developers.
- Inline Editors. Instead of jumping between file tabs, Brackets lets you open a window into the code you care about most. Want to work on the CSS that applies to a specific ID? Put your mouse cursor on that ID, push Command / Ctrl+E and Brackets will show you all the CSS selectors with that ID in an inline window so you can work on your code side-by-side without any popups.
- Live Preview. Brackets helps you get a real-time connection to your browser. Make changes to CSS and HTML and instantly see those changes on screen. Also see where your CSS selector is being applied in the browser by simply putting your cursor on it.
- Preprocessor Support. Works with preprocessors in a whole new way. With Brackets you can use Quick Edit and Live Highlight with your LESS and SCSS files which will make working with them easier than ever.
Notepad++ is a free source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages. Running in the MS Windows environment, its use is governed by GPL License. This is most probably one of code editor I started my early days on Web Development. I didn’t wanted to miss it on this list of best free code editors for web developers.
- Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding
- User Defined Syntax Highlighting and Folding:
- PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expression) Search/Replace
- GUI entirely customizable: minimalist, tab with close button, multi-line tab, vertical tab and vertical document list
- Document Map
- Auto-completion: Word completion, Function completion and Function parameters hint
- Multi-Document (Tab interface)
- WYSIWYG (Printing)
- Zoom in and zoom out
- Multi-Language environment supported
- Macro recording and playback
- Launch with different arguments
Light Table is a late contender. The crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign raised more than $300,000 for Chris Granger & Robert Attorri to develop the open source editor in ClojureScript with a Node-webkit wrapper. I haven’t use light table but with some research on internet I think it has started with a good pace to be on this list of best free code editors for web developers.
Key features include:
- Free and open source on all platforms
- Lightweight installation
- Good-looking, fast minimalist interface
- Auto-complete everywhere
- Inline evaluation and watches
- Split views and instant feedback
- A command palette and fuzzy finder
- A good selection of themes provided
- A plugin manager with a reasonable selection extensions and an open API coming soon
- Application auto-update
Light Table describes itself as “the next generation code editor”. It aims to provide a flexible interface, real-time evaluation, live visualization and documentation where you need it. The editor is still in an early phase of development and language support is more limited than the other contenders.
Bonus: Paid Code Editors for Web Developer
Sublime was released back in 2007, so it’s had almost a decade to mature. According to Stackoverflow’s 2016 developer survey it’s the 3rd most popular Development Environment.
- Goto Anything. Use Goto Anything to open files with only a few keystrokes, and instantly jump to symbols, lines or words.
- Multiple Selections. Make ten changes at the same time, not one change ten times. Multiple selections allow you to interactively change many lines at once, rename variables with ease, and manipulate files faster than ever.
- Command Palette. The Command Palette holds infrequently used functionality, like sorting, changing the syntax and changing the indentation settings. With just a few keystrokes, you can search for what you want, without ever having to navigate through the menus or remember obscure key bindings.
- Distraction Free Mode. When you need to focus, Distraction Free Mode is there to help you out. Distraction Free Mode is full screen, chrome free editing, with nothing but your text in the center of the screen. You can incrementally show elements of the UI, such as tabs and the find panel, as you need them.
- Split Editing. Get the most out of your wide screen monitor with split editing support. Edit files side by side, or edit two locations in the one file. You can edit with as many rows and columns as you wish. Take advantage of multiple monitors by editing with multiple windows, and using multiple splits in each window.
- Instant Project Switch. Projects in Sublime Text capture the full contents of the workspace, including modified and unsaved files. You can switch between projects in a manner similar to Goto Anything, and the switch is instant, with no save prompts — all your modifications will be restored next time the project is opened.
- Plugin API. Sublime Text has a powerful, Python based plugin API. Along with the API, it comes with a built in Python console to interactively experiment in real time.
- Customize Anything. Key Bindings, Menus, Snippets, Macros, Completions and more — just about everything in Sublime Text is customizable with simple JSON files. This system gives you flexibility as settings can be specified on a per-file type and per-project basis.
- Cross Platform. Sublime Text is available for OS X, Windows and Linux. One license is all you need to use Sublime Text on every computer you own, no matter what operating system it uses.
Cost: $70 license fee with free trial
PhpStorm is a perfect PHP IDE for working with Symfony, Drupal, WordPress, Zend Framework, Laravel, Magento, Joomla!, CakePHP, Yii, and other frameworks.
- All PHP tools. The editor actually ‘gets’ your code and deeply understands its structure, supporting all PHP language features for modern and legacy projects. It provides the best code completion, refactorings, on-the-fly error prevention, and more.
- Built-in developer tools. Perform many routine tasks right from the IDE, thanks to Version Control Systems integration, support for remote deployment, databases/SQL, command-line tools, Vagrant, Composer, REST Client, and many other tools.
- PhpStorm = WebStorm + PHP + DB/SQL. All the features of WebStorm are included into PhpStorm, and full-fledged support for PHP and Databases/SQL support are added on top.
- Intelligent Coding Assistance. Hundreds of inspections take care of verifying your code as you type, analyzing the whole project. PHPDoc support, code (re)arranger and formatter, quick-fixes, and other features help you write neat code that’s easy to maintain.
- Smart Code Navigation. Be the master of your codebase thanks to efficient, lightning-fast navigation features. The IDE understands where you want to go and gets you there instantly.
- Fast and Safe Refactoring. Refactor your code reliably with safe Rename, Move, Delete, Extract Method, Inline Variable, Push members Up / Pull members Down, Change Signature, and many other refactorings. Language-specific refactorings help you perform project-wide changes in a matter of a few clicks, and can be safely undone.
- Easy Debugging and Testing. PhpStorm is renowned for its zero-configuration Visual Debugger, providing extraordinary insight into what goes on in your application at every step. It works with Xdebug and Zend Debugger, and can be used both locally and remotely. Unit Testing with PHPUnit, BDD with Behat and profiler integration are also available.
Cost: $199.00 /1st year
This concludes our list of Top 5 Best Free Code Editors for Web Developers. If this list was helpful please share it on your social media.