A couple of days ago I decided to get my JavaScript development environment in order.

I haven’t been doing much JS dev lately, mostly just tweaking a tiny bit of JS, but I had just received a pure frontend JS task. So I thought it would be a good time to do so!

I live in Vim world, and these instructions are assembled from various places all over the web.

Here’s how my setup looks like right now

My Vim JavaScript setup, with d3.js code

Syntax highlighting

First thing I wanted was syntax highlighting, and I usually just head to GitHub to do a search.

I found a couple of vim scripts for this, and I chose [this] (https://github.com/pangloss/vim-javascript) because it was the most recently updated, and had the most number of stars.

As I used Vundle, this was as easy as adding a line to my .vimrc

Plugin "pangloss/vim-javascript"


From my observation, 2 spaces seems to be pretty popular, so I went with that as well.

This doesn’t require any plugin, Vim has really good support for smart indentations built in, we just need to which command does it!

In this case refering to .vimrc files of experienced vim users really helps. One notable Vim (and Ruby) expert I really like is Ben Orenstein. Thanks Ben!

I went to his dotfiles and found the lines that was releveant, which was the autocmd command, docs

autocmd FileType javascript setlocal sw=2

autocmd basically sets some settings when you open a file of a specific type.

So for the setting aove, everytime you open a javascript file, it will set the shiftwidth to 2 locally (i.e. only the current buffer or window), docs on setlocal, docs on shiftwidth

Check out my own .vimrc here

Linting, style checks

Linting is really helpful and we should always have it turned on.

It helps captures stupid typos which would result in undefined references, breaking the page. It also ensures that you write code that is formatted consistently.

And there are many other reasons as well!

A helpful resource was this stackoverflow question, and I basically followed the instruction on one of those answer.

First, install Syntastic, which is an amazing, flexible syntax checker for Vim. It works really well and is extensible, so you can plug in different checkers for each file type.

For JavaScript, there are multiple checkers available, one that I chose was jshint

This is easy to install, assuming you have npm

npm install jshint -g

Restart Vim, and Syntastic will automatically pick up jshint.

Open up a JavaScript file, then use this ex command :SyntasticInfo to verify that jshint is indeed active.

Another checker worth looking at is Google’s closure library linter. This is particularly interesting because just a couple of days ago I was exploring the Google Closure Compiler, here’s my blog post on it.