WebStorm and Vim: The Best of Both Worlds

October 5, 2023

Why JetBrains?

I work primarily in the JavaScript/TypeScript space. I use WebStorm (by JetBrains) as my primary editor/IDE, and am quite fond of vim as a concept. Most of my colleagues use VS Code; some of them use neovim. Both groups often ask me questions like, “why would you use WebStorm? It’s not free.” I feel like I’ve been asked this enough times to write down my thoughts on the topic.

It’s cheap

Before you get your panties in a bunch and say, “but WebStorm costs $159 per year!”, think about your hourly rate – and how many hours you’d have to save to pay that $159 off. It’s likely no more than three if you’re a software engineer.

It’s not free, but it’s not expensive – and if the return on investment is high for the tool, you shouldn’t even really bat an eye at that price tag. Also, your employer will almost certainly pay for a license for you.

Refactoring Support

Perhaps the biggest reason I use WebStorm: the refactoring support. The list of refactoring actions in WebStorm is too large for me to list out here, but the tl;dr is: it can do a lot. Here are a few things that get me excited about it:

  • The ability to drag a file in the project explorer and have WebStorm automatically update import statements accordingly.
  • The ability to move one or multiple symbols from one file to another and have WebStorm update import statements accordingly.
  • The ability to rename a file, have WebStorm ask if you want to rename the primary export accordingly – and then have WebStorm update import statements accordingly.
  • The ability to “safe delete” a symbol and have WebStorm let you know if that symbol is being referenced.

All of these, plus more, make for an incredible development experience – especially in larger TypeScript codebases!

TODO: GIF of this in action?



Git integration

Most IDEs have some sort of git integration. I find WebStorm’s quite nice: it can do your standard git actions, like stage files, make commits, push/pull from remotes, and so on.

However, the merge conflict editor in WebStorm is leagues beyond any other that I’ve tried. It’s got a 3-way merge editor that allows you to easily grab bits and pieces from incoming/current branches and easily edit the output manually if needed. Here’s a screenshot of the glory.

TODO: screenshot of this

Honestly, this feature alone saves me hours of time a month when working with a team where merge conflicts are a regular occurence. This is worth the $159 in my opinion.



Why Vim


Makes you faster


Less time fiddling your mouse


IdeaVim: the best of both worlds

TODO: vim key motions and a good set of plugins, vim remaps that tap into IDE actions

My setup


  • Baseline config
    • AceJump, a big one
    • Formatting and import optimizing
    • Code actions
    • Window splitting and moving
    • Brace matching
    • Line joining?
    • Anything else in there?