WebStorm vs Visual Studio, and how to choose the right IDE

An integrated development environment provides programming tools and features that anticipate design actions and make it easier for developers to rewrite or refactor code. Microsoft’s Visual Studio and JetBrains’ WebStorm arguably represent two distinct ends of the IDE market when it comes to development capabilities, language support, and, of course, cost.

That said, many developers and architects may not be sure which is the most practical choice for their particular project, or if it’s even possible to use these two integrated development environments together.

In this article, we’ll look at the main considerations for WebStorm versus Visual Studio, comparing the two options on aspects like debugging, error handling, library integrations, plugins, subscription costs , open source resources and potential downsides. We’ll also quickly take note of some ways developers can successfully use Visual Studio and WebStorm in tandem.

What is Visual Studio?

Microsoft Visual Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) that supports a wide range of well-established development languages ​​and data formats, such as C, C++, JavaScript, XML, XSLT, HTML, and CSS. While Visual Studio’s background is (unsurprisingly) rooted in Microsoft’s .NET framework, it can handle a range of software design approaches, all backed by proprietary support from Microsoft development communities.

Visual Studio provides an extensive suite of tools and access to add-ons that developers use to build things like cloud, mobile, and in-house business applications, especially in enterprise-level scenarios where many teams of development are involved. Users can also access support for languages ​​such as Python and Ruby through readily available plugins.

Despite their differences, some programmers have found ways to use both Visual Studio and WebStorm for a project, and alternate between them to perform certain tasks.

What is WebStorm?

In contrast, the lightweight, no-frills WebStorm IDE is based on JetBrains’ IntelliJ platform. It provides features aimed at simplifying and speeding up the development process, as well as CSS and JavaScript plugins that are ideal for small-scale web development projects.

While it doesn’t offer quite the same amount of proprietary language support as Visual Studio (.NET languages ​​being a major example), it still has an impressive array of features that make it an IDE. competitive, especially for JavaScript-based web applications. Other supported languages, formats, and frameworks include TypeScript, Markdown, JSON, YAML, React, AngularJS, and Node.js.

Debugging and error handling

Visual Studio offers powerful features to keep code clean and error-free. For starters, the editor automatically tracks code commits, and developers can group, filter, and search for particular code elements using the Find All References feature. Additionally, Visual Studio includes powerful tools for error handling, such as an error list feature that helps developers keep tabs on failures and determine needed fixes.

Additionally, Visual Studio’s ReSharper extension provides precompilation code analysis that can detect and highlight errors directly in the editor. Visual Studio also provides a series of testing templates and tools, including IntelliTest for live unit testing and UI-driven testing.

Like Visual Studio, WebStorm offers a set of dynamic and static code analysis features that help detect language and runtime errors. Developers can extend this analysis to find things like unused variables and deprecated methods. Both Visual Studio and WebStorm are good at debugging Node.js and React apps, and both offer support for JavaScript-based apps. However, WebStorm’s affiliation with JetBrains gives it a slight advantage when it comes to refactoring JavaScript and TypeScript code, especially in cases where functions and variables need to be transferred between files.

Another notable feature of WebStorm is the Find in Files command, which programmers can use to find and display specific text strings in a project to help with routine debugging tasks. Developers can also use the built-in test runner to run tests directly from the IDE, jump to failed sections of code, and rerun tests as needed.

Tool integrations, libraries and plugins

When it comes to a debate about WebStorm vs. Visual Studio, their respective collections of libraries, tool integrations, and plugins are a major talking point.

Since the NuGet package manager is built into Visual Studio, developers can easily include third-party libraries and frameworks. If a new package has been added, the IDE notifies developers that other packages need upgrades. Visual Studio also uses Active Directory to visually track things like permissions, developer contributions, and changes between branches, and a tool called CodeLens gives developers an easy way to navigate unknown call structures and locate specific functions.

For development workflows, WebStorm relies on the JetBrains ecosystem, which offers hundreds of tools and plugins to automate tasks. Although the ecosystem of WebStorm-specific libraries and toolsets is small compared to Visual Studio, there are still plenty of effective integration options, including plugins for GraphQL, PostCSS, and Dart. WebStorm’s affiliation with JetBrains also comes into play here, as those who are JavaScript-oriented will likely have an easier time finding the resources they need.

Subscription costs and open source access

The open source version of Visual Studio, called Visual Studio Community, is freely available to developers using Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms. Of course, this Microsoft-backed IDE is also available through two major (and notoriously expensive) subscription packages: Visual Studio Professional and, for even larger development operations, Visual Studio Enterprise. It’s also worth noting that Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Enterprise include a subscription to GitHub Enterprise, allowing paid users to still access valuable open source assets.

WebStorm, meanwhile, offers two subscription levels: one for organizations, and another, less expensive, for individuals. Although both subscriptions are considerably cheaper than Visual Studio, WebStorm does not offer a standalone open source option like Visual Studio Community. However, there is a catch: JetBrains offers free subscriptions to WebStorm for certain types of users, such as students, teachers, independent open source developers, and organizers of active user groups. Additionally, the company offers discounted subscriptions to universities, startups, nonprofits, recent graduates, and, perhaps most especially, those with tools that compete with WebStorm’s offerings.

Limitations and challenges of WebStorm compared to Visual Studio

Visual Studio comes with its own set of unfortunate drawbacks. While Visual Studio Community offers developers a perfectly viable option for low-level development projects, the amount you can accomplish with this open-source version is still relatively limited. Unfortunately, in addition to the prohibitive cost of paid versions, its large installation footprint, the environment is very memory intensive.

While this is a bit more obscure (and debatable) issue, it’s arguable that the complexity of Visual Studio’s comprehensive offerings may not be best for developers. novices. The sheer number of features and options found in these more sophisticated subscription tiers may prove too complex – and perhaps overwhelming – for developers accustomed to working on smaller projects. Some might also say that Visual Studio’s high level of auto-generated and reusable code snippets deprives new developers of the trial-and-error learning process necessary to truly hone their skills.

WebStorm, of course, has its own flaws. Although WebStorm is known for minimizing the amount of drag it places on memory and using less RAM than other IDEs, the environment often proves slow on startup. Another annoying shortcoming is that non-native file systems can get out of sync and hamper development as an application grows. For example, developers often have to manually synchronize directories with their file systems, which can be an extremely time-consuming task.

Since its initial release in 2010, WebStorm has also gone through a few dozen releases. Arbitrary changes to files under version control can mean that all developers on a team will need to periodically confirm that they are using the same version to avoid conflicts. And, finally, WebStorm probably won’t be a good option for large-scale development efforts, especially those deeply rooted in .NET-based projects.

Use WebStorm and Visual Studio together

Despite their differences, some programmers have found ways to use both Visual Studio and WebStorm for a project, and alternate between them to perform certain tasks. For example, a team might choose WebStorm to refactor a specific set of JavaScript code, then switch to Visual Studio to access extensions such as Prisma schema files and GitHub Copilot suggestions.

Comments are closed.