If you’re just learning to code, the first thing you need to do is choose a text editor for writing code, after deciding what to learn.

A text editor is a program that helps you write plain text (without any formatting) and save it in a file. Notepad editor on Windows is a good example.

As you begin your coding journey, you’ll quickly find that the text editor is where you’ll spend most of your time – because the basic job of any programmer is to write and edit source code. This is why it is essential to choose the one that works for you and supports your learning effort.

Not all text editors like Notepad above are great for programming, as it does nothing to simplify or automate editing of the source code.

There are some text editors specifically designed for writing and editing source code. These are called code editors. A code editor may be a standalone program or built into an integrated development environment (IDE).

We also have code editors that live in the browser. Codepen, Web Maker and Plunker are prime examples. You may already be familiar with some of these web-based editors, as many online coding programs such as Freecodecamp recommend their use.

However, if you want to take your coding to the next level, you’ll need to consider looking into a desktop editor that goes above and beyond the level of most web-based tools.

It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many options. Ask five people, and you’re likely to get five different answers.

If you’re just starting out, you’ll need to choose an editor that supports you as a beginner. Learning to code is already hard enough, so you can use all the help you can get.

The goal of this article is to help you decide which text editor to use when learning to code, with a special emphasis on programming in JavaScript.

what to look for in code editor
All code editors can write text and save it to a file. Beyond that, the type of editor you choose depends entirely on your personal preference. That said, there are a few things that your editor must have in order to be considered good enough to develop in JavaScript.

syntax highlighting
Virtually all code editors support highlighting source code in different colors depending on the language you work in. It improves readability, and helps you identify syntax errors much faster.

Code autocompletion is a feature provided by many code editors that helps speed up the editing process and reduce typos by completing the names of variables, keywords, classes, and methods within your program’s scope.

If you’re just starting out, I recommend that you turn off autocomplete in your editor and type everything in manually instead, so you can remember syntax much faster.

However, once you get a grip on all the basic keywords and built-in methods, I don’t see much importance in typing everything out by yourself. Autocomplete becomes invaluable at this point.

Support for ES2015+ as well as popular frameworks and libraries
A good editor should provide support for the latest JavaScript features as soon as they are released, and have a strong plugin ecosystem so that you can have support for the most popular frameworks and libraries.

With these considerations in mind, let’s look at some alternatives you can use when you’re just getting started with JavaScript and web development in general.

To make it easier for you to choose one, I’ve ranked them from most recommended to least recommended. This ranking is subjective so I encourage you to draw your own conclusions after trying each one.

All the editors listed here are cross-platform across Windows, macOS, and Linux, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility with your preferred operating system.

Visual Studio Code – Free
Visual Studio Code (VS Code), not to be confused with Visual Studio, is the best text editor for JavaScript developers right now. Although it is relatively young compared to other popular editors, having just been released in 2015, it has improved manifold over the years. So much so, in fact, that it was listed as the most popular text editor among web developers in the latest Stack Overflow survey.

VS Code is much more than just a basic text editor. Some say that it is closer to an IDE than a text editor, as it offers many of the features you would normally find in an IDE.

Some of its key features include built-in debugging tools, intelligent code completion (IntelliSense), an integrated terminal, and native support for many common Git operations. As a beginner, you can take advantage of these features to generate working code at a much faster rate.

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