Table of Contents
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best IDEs for React applications. We’ll also take a look at iDE’s capabilities for React Native development, also taking both positive and negative aspects of the IDE into notice.
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 pages inside the IDE for a 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.
How to choose the best IDE for React?
Choosing the best IDE for React, 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 of 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.
What is React?
In this section, 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.
The Best IDEs For React Native
1. VS Code
VS Code comes from the house of Microsoft and is available for free under an open-source MIT license. You can download and install/setup VS code on Windows, Mac, Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, SUSE as well as get the insider build.
Developers love VS code for all kinds of programming needs these days, it is one of the most used free IDE and is loaded with tons of features. I personally use VS Code for developing mobile as well as web applications. Recently I installed Flutter (Google’s React Native alternative) and am trying my hands on Flutter using VS Code.
Well, you may not need all the features of VS Code (which is highly unlikely if you are into serious stuff) and hence might want to choose something else, but this thing just works for me in all scenarios.
In Fact, countless plugins are what you can use to transform the whole code editing experience and speed up the web as well as mobile apps development.
2. Reactide (Reactjs, Web Development Only)
Well the name of the tool itself is ReactIDE, this one is a new kid on the block but is fast becoming popular among the community of react web app developers.
This IDE specifically focuses on web apps development using react and is probably the only notable ide available that is dedicated just for React-based application development.
Reactide is more of a one-click setup that installs and runs a custom browser simulator, an integrated node server, and offers hot module re-loading by default.
Because of the live reloading within the development environment, you do not need to do a flip flop between code files and browser to check the changes made.
Reactide is a cross-platform, open-source, free-to-use tool and can be downloaded for Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, and Debian.
3. Webstorm (React IDE for Enterprises)
Webstorm is the product of a company named JetBrains which is developing such tools for the last ~18 years. The track record seems to be good around continuous product upgrades as well as customer support.
Talking a bit more about Webstorm, it is used by many large organizations and is an absolute productivity booster. Some of the features include the option to put breakpoints right in the source code, setting watches, interactive console, test runners, build tools, Rest client.
For unit testing, you can run tests with Protractor, Karma, Mocha with a live status update in the editor. Other key features include very ergonomically designed UI to work with Mercurial, VCS, GitHub, Git, changes review, etc., and much more.
With 50K plus Github stars and more than 13k forks, Atom is one of the most popular open-source text editors for modern-day programming. Atom is built by GitHub folks, comes with embedded git control, and fits seamlessly in the GitHub ecosystem.
Atom is truly hackable and can be customized using tons of nodejs based plugins to extend atom functionality to your needs.
5. Sublime Text
Sublime is another powerful integrated development environment and there is a big fan base for developers who use sublime for development in various programming languages and frameworks.
Few notable and useful packages include names like – ColorSublime, react ES6 snippet, Babel, Pretty JSON, SublimeREPL, ColorPicker.BabelSnippets etc. and there are many more.
Sublime Text is supported on Windows, OSX, and Linux.
6. Rekit Studio
Rekit is another IDE focused specifically on developing apps using React, similar to Reactide that we covered earlier in this article. Rekit studio works as an IDE as well as a toolkit that can be used for developing scalable 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. The only thing I like about Rekit is that every react app has its own Rekit studio, so things remain simple and controlled.
Rekit however is a favorable solution only for individual and small-scale developments.
The basic features like refactoring, unit tests, code generation, support for Less and Sass, react-router, command-line tools, etc. You can also extend Rekit functionality by developing your own plugins.
VIM is an old-time classic but there is no dearth of developers who still love VIM, you can not bring something more modern like VS Code or Webstorm or reactide and argue them to leave VIM, they just love VIM.
The popularity of VIM can be gauged from the fact that Facebook engineers used VIM in the early days, of course, then they created React and Nuclide and a lot has happened thereafter.
VIM is your perfect option as a Linux React IDE cum editor. Initial configuration and setup can sound like a task but once up and running, it is nothing short of Atom, Sublime Text, or maybe even VS Code for react development.
Brackets is another open-source IDE that can be used for Web development using react. Brackets is a product from the house of Adobe and is available under MIT license as free use tool.
When it comes to react, there are plugins available to enhance Brackets functionality for speed development using React components.
9. Deco IDE
If you find Deco IDE as a recommendation on some websites, be careful! Deco IDE used to be one of the best IDE for react native development three years back, was supported on macOS but is not getting regular updates anymore. As of writing this article, the last time this React IDE got an update was a minimum of 3 years ago.
If you have done anything related to react, you might have heard of the Nuclide ide by now. Nuclide was the react ide created and supported by Facebook itself. However, Facebook has stopped the development and maintenance of this ide and retired Nuclide a couple of years back.
Though it is still available and used by many developers, I wouldn’t recommend this one as it is not actively maintained or upgraded by the community anymore.
React from Facebook is one of the most popular web development frameworks as of today and has fast replaced PHP, Ruby, Python, and Angular in many areas as frameworks of choice. Apart from React, React Native too has made its way to one of the most used technologies for mobile apps development. Due to the vast popularity of the React ecosystem as a whole, most of the feature-rich and popular IDE and editors have been upgraded to support React and React Native in the past couple of years.
Most of the editors and IDEs discussed here come with a different look and feel and have their own unique abilities. The common goal that each of these tools strives for is speed development, multiple integrations, scalability, and easy code management.