JavaScript Developers Toolkit

 
My tool kit has grown over the years and even more so since I became a focused and dedicated JavaScript developer. From development environments, online resources and third party tools.
 
## IDE
As JavaScript does not require compiling you could write it all in notepad or any basic text editor as the browser will handle the code. But when developing large scale JavaScript applications you need more tools and features from your IDE.

My IDE of choice is WebStrom when I worked on Java based projects I used Intellij and it was a dream to use which made WebStrom the only option for me. The feature set was above par to any other development environment I had used. Features such as intellisense (which is extremely powerful), being able to find method usages and definitions, code quality checking and auto refactoring, source control tools built in like merging, a built in terminal, debugging for not only client side JavaScript, NodeJS and even Grunt and Gulp. I also blogged before about the power of the keybindings in WebStrom/Intellj

However this does come at a cost, there are a number of great free alternatives such as Sublime Text, Atom, Aptana Studio, Komodo Edit to name a few. Each with a different set of features, pros and cons.

Third Party Apps

So you have an IDE but there are other apps out there that can aid the developer. Two I use on a daily bases are SIP colour picker and LICEcap.

SIP

SIP is a powerful colour picker that will work anywhere on the screen and provide colours in a number of different formats to suit any development needs. It also keeps track of the most recent colours you have picked.

LICEcap

LICEcap is a tool for generating gif files from recording your screen, this comes in useful when developing UI components and trying to share these with other developers. When documenting a UI code base I always add a gif of the UI component in action. An alternative to LICEcap is Record It however this tool auto uploads the gif which is not great if you are working with internal products or products that have not been released yet.

Online Tools

Ove the years I have built up a collection of online tools or reference sites that I use on a daily basis’s. Here are some:

JSFiddle

JSFiddle is probably one of the most known online tools for web developers, it allows you to create online projects with just one html, css and JavaScript file, however you can add third party code files. This is a great tool for sharing code examples when either getting help/advice or showing off some new code or feature. There has also recently been a release of a ES6 Fiddle to allow for online editing of ES6 code.

JS Bin

JSBin is almost the same as JSFiddle however has some extra features such as a console panel. The main reason I use JS Bin is when I cant get some code to work in JSFiddle I double check on JSBin to remove any doubts. I have also experienced some issues with JSFiddle and company proxy servers blocking the output of the Fiddle.

Code Pen

Code Pen is probably one of the best looking out of the code playgrounds, It seems to be more focused on the look and feel of code. If you check the examples pages there are some beautiful examples of JavaScript and CSS. The interface is clean and simple also which works well when you want to focus on the code at hand.

JS Perf

JS Perf is a JavaScript performance testing site allowing you to pit different methods of doing the same action against each other and see which one out preforms the other. I use this a lot in work when dealing with different patterns and even different methods from different libs. I have used it before when testing the performance of lodash vs underscore vs jQuery vs ES5.

Reference Tools

Having all the tools are great but not knowing how to develop or how to over come bugs makes all the tools useless.

MDN (Mozillia Developer Network)

MDN is a great site for looking up not only JavaScript but HTML and CSS API documentation the site also provides news and examples. An example of the API documenatation can be found n the Flexbox page, the page provides information on the API, examples and the browser compatibility.

Dev Docs

Dev Docs is a must have tab open in your browser. If you work with JavaScript you most likely work with a few frameworks, you will at some point have to look into the docs for that framework. Dev docs pull in all the JavaScript frameworks that you want and keeps them in one handy tab. With the ablitiy to search and save for offline use it will save you some much time. You can open github issues to get other frameworks added.

Keeping up with the Joneses

If you are into JavaScript you most likely have realised that the world of JavaScript moves fast and you need to find ways to keep up. Here are some methods and resources I use:

Podcasts

JavaScript Jabber

JavaScript Jabber is a weekly podcast that discusses font and backend JavaScript, coding best practices, coding environments and the JavaScript community. The podcast has covered a very wide range of topics with regular guest from big name companies and communities from Angular and ember core developers to Brendan Eich (which was my favourite show to date).

NodeUp

In very simple terms NodeUp is a weekly podcast is a about Node.js, each week a different aspect of node is looked at usually with guests who are closely related to the topic and can provide a deep insight into the technology. With big name guests from the likes of Netflix, Socket IO developers and even the people behind NPM.

Shop Talk

Shop Talk is a weekly front end development podcast that has a mix-up of shows with guests from the tech world and shows for answering listener submitted questions.

The Changelog

The Changelog podcast s not just for web development but does contain a lot for the web developer. Each week a core developer of a tool or framework talks about the progression of the project where it has been where its going.

News Feeds / Twitter Accounts

I use Reddit for most of my JavaScript news needs, the following subreddits are vey usefull:

  • /r/angularjs
  • /r/backbonejs
  • /r/css
  • /r/emberjs
  • /r/Frontend
  • /r/HTML
  • /r/javascript
  • /r/marionettejs
  • /r/Meteor
  • /r/mongodb
  • /r/node
  • /r/programmingtools
  • /r/reactjs
  • /r/rubyonrails
  • /r/WatchPeopleCode

Twitter can also be a great resource if you follow the correct accounts:

  • https://twitter.com/paul_irish
  • https://twitter.com/addyosmani
  • https://twitter.com/davidwalshblog
  • https://twitter.com/jashkenas

Books

### JavaScript: The Good Parts
The must read JavaScript book, I first read this when I got into JavaScript development. I still keep a copy on my desk almost 7 years later. This book covers the basics of JavaScript a sets you up to be a great developer.

Learning JavaScript Design Patterns

This is a great book to move onto after the good parts as it takes you though the different design patterns and best practices in JavaScript. The book helps you understand JavaScript in a way that allows you to develop large applications and become better at managing code.

High Performance JavaScript

This is a nice book to keep around for reference on how to make your code as performant as possible. There are some really useful concepts that can help any level of developer.

Conclusion

This has been a detailed look at the JavaScript developers toolkit, every developer knows what works best for them and so some of the tools I mentioned might not be for you. Your toolkit is never complete so new tools will come and go, if you have something that helps you work or find useful in some way drop a comment.

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chrislaughlin

 

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