ReactJS is a popular frontend library for building interactive user interfaces with ease. The library was created by Meta (Facebook) and is now widely adopted by many large companies around the globe.
According to the StackOverflow developer survey 2022, it is the second most popular web technology, chosen by a whopping 42.62 percent of total respondents. Companies like Uber, Netflix, and Airbnb power their website with React. As it is already clear how widespread the library is, the demand for React developers in the market is also high.
When building websites with React, you might lack many developer features and productivity tools if your IDE does not have proper support for React. In this article, we will cover some of the IDEs that are already in the market for a long-time and also newer ones that provide a great developer experience.
What is an IDE?
An IDE or an Integrated Development Environment is a tool that enables software developers to write, test and debug programs. IDEs help increase developer productivity by combining multiple tools into a single software. It also helps you with syntax highlighting, autocompletes your code with useful suggestions, and helps you debug your application with a debugger.
Developers choose their IDE depending on their experience and other factors. For example, a large number of developers love to use VS Code, an IDE by Microsoft. It is a free, lightweight, and power-packed IDE. At the same time, many prefer to use WebStorm for its stability and many tools to support developer productivity.
What does an IDE do?
Typically, developers either code in a text editor or an IDE. If you want, you can also write your codes in the native notepad app of your computer. But to compile your code, you’ll also need to use a compiler. It also doesn’t help you with syntax highlighting, bracket pairing, and many features because it is meant for writing text, not code.
A dedicated code text editor integrates features like syntax highlighting, indentation, etc. Yet, it still lacks essential features like Git integration, debugger, compiler, and multiple language support. A popular text editor example can be Sublime Text. But an IDE allows you to write better code with additional features like refactoring support, IntelliSense, and more.
Here are some of the best React IDE for you to try.
Visual Studio Code
This IDE has been in the market since 2015, and Microsoft builds it. It provides a great developer experience without adding any paywall. It is a free-to-use tool that is also customizable with plugins and theme support. Primarily, the community builds the themes and plugins.
One of the primary selling points of Visual Studio Code is it provides a lightning-fast source code editor. It helps write code by providing syntax highlighting, auto-indentation, bracket matching, and more. It also has a number of keyboard shortcuts that you can also customize. You also get IntelliSense code completion and code refactoring support.
VS Code is also very popular among web developers, and many React developers use it daily. For building websites with React, you get IntelliSense suggestions that help you write code faster and more effectively.
You can also extend the power of writing React by installing extensions like ES7+ React/Redux/React-Native snippets. It has a number of code snippets that can be easily plugged into your application by entering a shortcut. For example, if you write rfc and hit the tab in a file, it’ll create a boilerplate for a functional component. For refactoring your React code, there is another excellent plugin called VSCode React Refactor, which is specially designed for React developers. You can easily break down your large components into functional or class-based components.
So, without a doubt, with the great features of VS Code and the power of plugins for React, VS Code can be an excellent choice for you to try.
CodeSandbox is an online IDE loaded with features. It is a very popular online IDE that supports multiple frameworks. You can write React code instantly without installing Node.js or any third-party software on your computer. It also has many built-in templates, like React with Typescript, Vite and React, etc., to speed up your development process.
Even though it runs on the browser, it doesn’t compromise with speed, and you can instantly see your code in its built-in preview window. You can also work in a collaborative mode, like working on Google Docs. Also, sharing your React code is extremely simple with Codesandbox, as you can simply generate a shareable link.
Though it gives so much power and functionality, it comes for a price. The free tier doesn’t support saving any private repository, and the personal pro tier starts at $9 per month when billed annually.
It is paid software, and the personal plan starts at $69 for the first year.
Codux is a comparatively newer IDE in the market. It is built by Wix and is made explicitly for React developers. It provides a visual interface for building your React components, and you can test them without leaving the IDE. You can create your components in isolation and then integrate them into your codebase. You also get real-time rendering for your components.
Codux is also full-compatible with Git. You can edit the CSS of your code visually. If you are primarily a designer and work with tools like Figma but also code a little bit, Codux is an excellent choice. You can also visually simulate different component states and props with the Codux boards.
Codux is free for now, and it is currently in beta. They have planned to make it paid software. It is still in active development and currently does not support CSS in JS.
Reactide claims to be the first dedicated IDE for React application development. With an integrated Node.js server and a custom browser simulator, you can visualize your components from the IDE itself, with hot module reloading support. It helps you increase developer productivity without needing to navigate to the browser and the IDE continuously.
Reactide also helps you visualize the flow of state across multiple components. It builds a visual component tree and changes the tree depending on the directory you are working on. It also helps you by giving information about the props and state for every component.
This above list shows the best React IDEs for you to try. These IDEs are the most common when it comes to React IDEs. Depending on your use case, you might prefer one over another. For example, if an online code editor is your preference, then CodeSandbox can be a great choice for you. If coding visually helps you be more productive, Codux or Reactide can be the IDE of your choice. But if you want to completely control the look and feel of your IDE, power it with keyboard shortcuts, and don’t want to pay anything for it, Visual Studio Code is undoubtedly the best editor.
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