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WebStorm

by Rob Friesel

Despite the carpenter’s advice about the hammer, I continue my search for an exemplary satisfactory IDE1. The most recent experiment was with JetBrains’ WebStorm2.

The short version: I wanted to like it…

First, what I did like:

  • It seemed fairly forgiving — which is to say that it did not try to coerce me into creating projects just so I could open up a few directories and files. I could just randomly open directories as if they were projects etc. and I did not need to fuss around with VCS integration etc. This is not to suggest that any of the other editors and IDEs require this3 but at least here was easy and (more so) immediately obvious how to do this.
  • Code-folding seemed well implemented. It had a good sense of scope and would let me fold down just portions of a method, or just one branch of an if statement, etc.
  • The code-sense/auto-complete features are great. When they work, and disappointing when they don’t (see below).

What I was iffy on:

  • The code-sense. Sometimes it seemed to have suggestions… sometimes it has no idea what I was typing. Sometimes it would have indexed my project files and made suggestions based on them. Rhen the next time it had amnesia. And so it goes.

And finally, what I did not like.

  • Come on guys. That icon is lame. I could get over that but…
  • It often forgot the files related to a given project. When I did set up a couple of repos as projects, WebStorm seemed to “forget” what was in it about half the time. References to related files would be missing — e.g., it would open the previously open files as tabs but the snapshot of the filesystem would be missing from the Project inspector.
  • It seemed slow and sluggish. It was not exactly crashy, but on more than a few instance, it would completely lock up my machine for several minutes. Perhaps it was a thread hog? On at least one instance, I noticed in the OS X Activity Monitor that it was using more threads than any other process except the kernel (also: it was using a ton of memory). The cause? Maybe, maybe not. But it was an awful coincidence that its resource consumption would be so high right around the same time that the rest of the system was pegged.
  • And while we’re at it: I gave up trying to get the colors/syntax highlighting “just right”. (I like a dark blue background with light text; thanks for only bundling black-and-blue-on-white.)

I wish the JetBrains guys good luck with WebStorm. I know tons of happy IDEA users and I gave WebStorm a try following their recommendations. But this one did not work out for me.

  1. As I have not written about this before, the short version: jEdit is like a hand-me-down car; Espresso got a B- for not being mature; I love TextMate as a quickie text editor but it’s hardly an IDE; and (for better or worse) lately I keep coming back to Aptana. []
  2. Apparently, not to be confused with Brightidea’s Webstorm. []
  3. At least, I haven’t tried one that does. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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