Online code editors are coding apps that can be accessed via a browser. They come with many advantages, which make them popular.
Some online code editors focus on one language or framework, while others are more versatile. Some are simple editors, while others are more like complete IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) with preview and debugging features.
Choosing the best online code editor is important because you have to find something that you can comfortably work with. This post shows you the top offers out there, and why.
The Benefits of Online Code Editors
Here are a few important reasons to consider using online code editors:
- Online Storage – You can access your code from anywhere. No need for a specific computer with the installed editor.
- Sharing – Being online makes it easy to share your code with others.
- Instant Setup – No need for setups, just log in and you are good to go.
- Collaboration – Most online IDEs come with collaboration features, so you can work and interact with colleagues in real-time.
Important Tips For Choosing An Online Code Editor
There are a few issues to consider when deciding on the right online code editor for your work. Here are the important ones:
- Supported Languages – This is very important as only then will it offer code highlighting, auto-complete, and other helpful features.
- Speed – You want an editor that’s fast and does not get in your way.
- Setup – The system should be as easy as possible to use. No need for extra steps each session.
- Cost – Some are subscription-based, others are free and supported with ads. It’s up to you to decide.
- Terminal & NPM Support – Most modern platforms offer a virtual machine or containerized execution environment, with a terminal that lets you connect to multiple services.
- Settings & Layouts – An online IDE with a good level of customization is also a big plus.
Best Online Code Editors
|Versatile, web & desktop
|Web code, sharing
|Fully-featured cloud IDE
|VS Code, VM, GitHub repo
|IDE framework, VS Code
|VS Code, fast, flexible, Netlify
|VS Code, Git, Vercel, Netlify
|Browser based, offline capable
|Full IDE, extensive features
|Multi language, highlighting, web hosting
1. Visual Studio Code
Highlights: Versatile editor, web & desktop versions, Git integration, Run & debug
Visual Studio Code or VS Code is a source code editor from Microsoft, similarly named after its Visual Studio developer package. However, Visual Studio Code is different.
You can get VS Code for the Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms. Plus, there is a web version that integrates with many platforms and services, making it very popular.
VS Code is completely free and open-source. It includes Run and Debug features, bracket matching, code folding, comes with built-in Git version management, and is fully extensions compatible.
You can save and load new projects on the jsFiddle platform, and you can also load data from a Git repository. The platform further supports code forking and live collaborations.
There is syntax highlighting, auto-complete, and indentation features to make your coding easier. The editor aligns your languages in different panels and offers separate settings for each of the 3 languages.
Highlights: Full IDE, containers, Git, FTP, SSH
CodeAnywhere is a fully-featured cloud IDE that supports over 75 programming languages, including Go, HTML, PHP, Python, Ruby, and so on.
The platform features a versatile editor in a containerized environment, which means you can set up your runtime options as code, save it, and spin it up in just a few seconds any time you like.
There is no free plan here, but CodeAnywhere offers a free 7-day trial period. Its Basic plan costs $6 per month for individuals and it comes with 1 container with 2GB RAM and 10GB storage. The Standard plan costs $15 and includes 3 containers and higher specs.
There is also a fully featured terminal to compile, run, and debug your code. Plus you can either run your projects in the CodeAnywhere containers or connect to remote servers using FTP, FTPS, and SSH.
4. GitHub CodeSpaces
Highlights: VS Code editor, simple VM selection
GitHub is the giant, Microsoft-owned repository service that hosts millions of software code files for millions of developers around the world.
GitHub CodeSpaces is a GitHub service that lets any developer execute his code on the company’s virtual machines. It combines GitHub’s infrastructure with VS Code as its editor.
You configure your environment with configuration files from your repository, and this sets up the virtual machine for all users with fast initialization times.
The offer here is simple, from a 2-core, 4GB-RAM VM at $0.18 per hour to 32 cores and 64GB RAM at $2.88 per hour. If you are already a GitHub repository or Pages user, then CodeSpaces might just be a very convenient cloud environment to check out.
5. Eclipse Theia
Highlights: Modern online IDE framework, free & open-source
Eclipse Theia is not a proper online code editor. However, it is a framework for quickly building yours. So, if you are the type that loves to build your own or an organization that needs a custom app, then you can build a modern and customized online IDE using Theia.
You get a free and open-source modular framework that is based on the VS Code project. However, Theia is vendor-neutral, supports both online and desktop app development, has a very flexible layout, and is vastly extensible.
Highlights: VS Code editor, fast loading env, extensive configuration
Gitpod is similar to GitHub Codespaces, but it comes with slight variations that make it an interesting platform for cloud development.
The platform shares the same VS Code editor, but you don’t select a plan according to CPU cores and RAM. Rather, you get 50 execution hours on the free plan, 100 hours in the Personal plan for 8 Euros a month, and unlimited hours in the Professional plan.
Gitpod also offers multiple workspaces, including 4 parallel workspaces in the free plan. It offers workspace sharing, snapshots, an intuitive admin dash, and code hosting on GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab.
A Gitpod workspace lets you fully configure your development environment for a particular project and save it as code. The system then pre-builds it, so you can always open it in an instant.
You can configure everything in each workspace—which is a docker image—from editor extensions to init tasks, startup tasks, and so on. You can also self-host Gitpod.
Highlights: VS Code editor, flexible plans, Vercel & Netlify deploys
CodeSandbox is also an online IDE that comes with the VS Code editor and other features, such as hot module reloading for changes, session-restore, npm, GitHub, iOS support, and deploys to Vercel and Netlify.
Each environment is called a sandbox and is easy to create and manage from different templates. You can quickly create working prototypes for Vue, React, Angular, Gatsby, etc. You can share your code with the team and give or receive feedback.
CodeSandbox offers a free, 20MB storage plan that is limited to public sandboxes, npm packages, and GitHub repos. The Personal Pro plan, however, lifts those limitations for $7 per month.
Highlights: Browser-based environment, secure, super fast
As the name suggests, StackBlitz provides a super responsive and secure development stack in mere milliseconds, because it uses an entirely different approach.
StackBlitz works completely in the browser, unlike other environments that live on a server and communicate with your browser. This means top security, zero network latency, the ability to work offline, and debugging with native browser tools.
On the other hand, this approach also means that StackBlitz only works for Node.js-related projects, such as React, Angular, and Vue. So, you can not use it for languages such as C++, Python, Go, and so on.
The editor is VS Code and the system automatically handles dependencies, compilations, hot-reloading as you type, sharing, and debugging. You can even run backend Node.js services like web servers and APIs on your browser using StackBlitz.
Plans include the Cadet which is free but limited to public projects and GitHub repos, while the Astronaut plan starts from $8 per user per month.
9. AWS Cloud9
Highlights: Fully featured editor, debugger, AWS development
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud9 is an integrated development environment for cloud applications. It is available for free to Amazon EC2 customers, and you only pay for the computing and storage of your code.
You can also customize the view to your preferences, including moving panels around per drag-and-drop. There is a terminal, the ability to connect to any server, serverless application support, collaboration features, revisions, and so many more.
Cloud9 is a complete package for all types of cloud application development, but you have to be an Amazon customer to use it.
10. TryIt Editor
Highlights: Free editor, tutorials, hosting space
W3Schools is an extensive learning resource that has helped many software developers to become more competent over the years.
The platform offers free tutorials for all types of languages, from SQL to HTML, PHP, Python, CSS, ASP, and so on. Each lesson includes the possibility to try some examples with their editor.
This W3School’s TryIt editor includes syntax highlighting and lets you run code directly in your browser and get the result on the right panel. It has been constantly improved over the years and now includes many options, such as save code, change theme, and change orientation.
You will need an account to save your code though. W3Schools Spaces offers a free but limited plan with templates and a file manager to host static sites, with premium plans starting from $4.99 per month.
We have reached the end of this best online code editors list, and you have seen the top brands out there and what they offer for your next project.
Every coder is different and on a unique mission, with different requirements. So, there is probably no single best tool out there. It is up to you, therefore, to choose what best meets your needs.