Last weekend I wrote an IDE. In JavaScript.

In the past days I’ve been spending some hours on a project I had in mind since a while, and finally got to roll out something I am already using on a daily basis: a fast IDE that runs within a browser.


The idea is very simple: why booting a Java monster like WebStorm / Eclipse / Netbeans when you can satisfy all of your basic needs with a simple <div contenteditable />?

Well, because a browser editor would still need to be able to talk with your filesystem, and that’s something a completely “frontend” JS app wouldn’t be able to do (but might be able to do soon).

So, take JavaScript, put it on the frontend (browser), put it on the backend (NodeJS), get them to talk ( and use a pretty good web editor (ACE), add ctrl + f and ctrl + s and we’re done:

How to get started

Simply install nikki with an npm install -g nikki, cd into a project’s directory and launch the editor with the nikki command: the editor will launch a new browser window to let you have fun with your project.

A nikki --help might get the confusion away, but if you really want to give the project a closer look simply check the README on github.

Of course, of course, of course, I need to clarify a few points: first of all, nikki is not a “real” IDE, it’s more a text editor (the marketer in me!), and it didn’t really come out in a single weekend (even though the basics were setup last WE); last but not least, I’m not a javascripter (I guess), so most of the credit goes to, the ACE editor and David, who made me write my very first lines of JS back in 2011 (I know, so late!)


I’ve started writing this thing 2 weeks ago and I’m very happy with where I’ve got so far; in fact, I am writing this post from “my” nikki, here’s the proof:

I plan on fixing a few more bugs I have in my todo list (because they’re “bugging” me) and would be extremely happy to fix anything you find while playing with nikki: I must admit that, by using the latest version of Chrome on Linux, I might have broken a few things on other browsers, so I’d be very happy to fix anything that comes up (ofc don’t mention IE).

One more thing

As per the README:

Hey, couldn’t you simply use TextMate or LightTable?

Yes, but then, where’s the fun?

Remember, this is a pet project and I firstly did it for fun, learning and to practice a bit over my spare time: it is nothing groundbreaking or rocket-science, and I don’t see this going anywhere but my laptop (in terms of userbase). If you wish to use (or at least try) nikki I would be very happy though :)

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