9 JavaScript tools aimed at easing development

Once considered a script-kiddie toy, JavaScript has become a stalwart scripting language for developing Web applications, and vendors and open source organizations alike are pushing out IDEs and tools targeted at making JavaScript development easier and more reliable.

These tools move beyond familiar JavaScript technologies like jQuery and the growing set of JavaScript libraries to provide Web developers with a plethora of functionality, including debugging and support for HTML5 and other popular scripting languages.

Here is a look at some of the more compelling tools and frameworks for taking your JavaScript Web development projects to the next level.

ActiveState Komodo IDE 7

ActiveState Komodo IDE 7 supports JavaScript development, in addition to other popular Web development languages like PHP, Python, and Ruby. Version 7 backs the Node.js server-side JavaScript environment, offering such capabilities as editing, syntax-checking, code intelligence, and debugging. Support for CoffeeScript, which compiles to JavaScript, is featured, too. Improved syntax checking in Version 7 enables developers to check JavaScript or CSS within HTML.

Appcelerator Aptana Studio 3

Appcelerator’s Aptana Studio 3 is an open source Web development IDE that supports JavaScript, HTML, and CSS Code Assist, to aid in authoring. Integrated JavaScript debugging is offered, as is debugging for Ruby on Rails applications. Other features include support for HTML5, Git repository integration, and the ability to customize the IDE. Aptana Studio can be installed as an Eclipse IDE plug-in. Appcelerator, which recently acquired Aptana Studio, also offers the Titanium Studio IDE, which provides similar functionality.

4D Wakanda

4D Wakanda is a JavaScript development platform for building Web and mobile business applications. The included Wakanda Server features a datastore for housing application data and models, and it’s run by the WakandaDB NoSQL object engine. WakandaDB leverages JavaScript and classes for an application’s business logic. Also featured are Wakanda Studio (a visual designer and code editor) and Wakanda Framework (a client-side framework comprised of interface widgets for the browser front end, a data source layer, and a data provider to communicate with the server).

dotCloud JS

The dotCloud JS software development kit is for building Web applications rapidly with JavaScript and HTML. Applications built with dotCloud JS can be deployed on the dotCloud PaaS cloud. Developers gain access to a selection of cloud APIs without having to write back-end code or deal with servers. APIs access capabilities like data storage and real-time data synchronization. Integration with Twilio and Twitter APIs is also featured. Developers can access 14 cloud services via dotCloud JS. A software stack based on Node.js, MongoDB, Redis, and WebSocket is included as well.

Telerik Kendo UI

Telerik Kendo UI is a framework for building HTML5 and JavaScript mobile applications and sites. It incorporates adaptive rendering and leverages JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3 to adapt a mobile application’s native look and feel on any smartphone or tablet while supporting all major browsers. Controls and widgets for building iPad user interfaces are also part of the tool. Kendo also features themes, templates, and an MVVM (Model View View Model) framework.


The open source SproutCore JavaScript framework is intended to enable development of Web applications with less code. SproutCore applications move business logic to the browser to provide immediate responses to users’ taps and clicks; there is no need for round trips across network connections. A binding system is featured for building data-centric applications, leveraging application state and data flow descriptions. Semantic templates allow developers to write HTML and CSS that automatically update when models change. An in-memory database is provided for managing and querying data and synchronizing with a server. Applications build a directory of static assets that can be deployed to any server.

Alpha Five v11

The Alpha Fire rapid application development tool is aimed at building AJAX business applications for Web and mobile devices. Developers can include charts, graphs, and analytics in their applications, enabling users to summarize trends. The tool features JavaScript classes and libraries, and it supports jQuery. JavaScript is generated for the developer, enabling usage by those who are not able to write the code. The tool also leverages CSS3.

Eclipse JavaScript Development Tools

The Eclipse JSDT (JavaScript Development Tools) is a set of plug-ins for Eclipse aimed at supporting JavaScript application and Web development. JSDT adds a JavaScript project type to the Eclipse Workbench, along with views, editors, wizards, and builders. The tool set features JSDT Core, including a parser and compiler DOM; JSDT UI, with user interface code to create the JavaScript IDE; and JSDT Debug, for debugging JavaScript using Rhino and Crossfire. Also featured is JSDT Web, which supports client-side JavaScript implemented in the Eclipse Web Tools Platform’s Source Editing project.

Oracle NetBeans IDE

Oracle’s NetBeans IDE supports error-checking for JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, including JavaScript 1.7. The editor also recognizes JavaScript and HTML in XTHML, PHP, and JSP (JavaServer Pages) files. Browser compatibility is provided when developers specify browser types and versions in the JavaScript Options panel. The IDE features an AJAX-ready environment for choosing a server-side scripting language like PHP or Groovy, and integration is enabled for third-party JavaScript toolkits and Web frameworks. Code completion and integrated documentation for JavaScript toolkits like JQuery and Script.aculo.us is provided via the NetBeans JavaScript editor.