Online front end playgrounds are the future! It’s about time to ditch offline code editors and IDEs and consider an online coding playground instead. Atom, VS Code, Vim, and other offline editors and IDEs are awesome tools. But the inconvenience starts when as a web developer, you constantly have to switch from editor/IDE to browser in order to test your code. It gets frustrating to constantly open a browser to load a website in order to see the changes. Even if the browser is left open, it’s still a major hassle to jump from editor to browser, then refresh the browser tab in order to see changes.
Online front end playgrounds have the advantage of showing you your code output in real-time. No longer do you have to switch programs to display your front-end code. Coding playgrounds will display the testable output and editable code side-by-side. This feature increases convenience and coding speed, making you a more efficient front-end web developer. In addition to the real-time coding feature, many front end playgrounds have a large community of designers/developers, who publish code snippets for use and inspiration.
8 best online front end playgrounds:
When creating a responsive webpage, CodePen is there to help you. The result screen is movable, letting you easily resize the screen and test your code. CodePen does not let you lose your code, even when you forget to save. CodePen automatically saves written code, letting you resume whenever you please. Just like GitHub, users can fork and edit other user’s code as they please. As a blogger, CodePen lets you embed the front end playground in your blog, making code and results visible to your readers.
If you can afford to go Pro, CodePen becomes even more magical. Pro users can create several projects, use custom domains for projects, collaborate with others, embed themes with custom CSS, create private pens and much more.
Last year, JSFiddle was ranked the second most popular online IDE by the Popularity of Programming Language(PYPL) index based on the number of times it was searched. That goes to show how well-known and well-liked code pen is in the front-end web development community. JSFiddle is also the go-to coding tool when displaying code answers on Stack Overflow.
Plunker is the best tool to prototype, experiment, share and debug your ideas on the web platform. From idea to implementation, Plunker helps you build a website quickly, efficiently and frictionlessly. Plunker provides a multi-file, multi-pane editor which gives you a full file tree. You can easily drag and drop your files, images and animated gifs into the workbench.
Plunker is a flexible front end playground, letting you rearrange or resize your panes as you wish. Results and changes are visible as soon as you write them, making you more efficient. What you see on Plunker’s real-time previews is exactly what you would get if your code was served directly from a content delivery network (CDN).
Plunker prevents you from losing your work by keeping copies of all unsaved code. Projects on Plunker are called “plunks”. Every “plunk” is indexed and searchable, letting you search and find whatever you need, whenever you need it. Additionally, the Plunker front end playground lets you fork other users’ ‘plunks’ and use them as a template for your project. Plunker’s impressive console also helps you debug your code.
4. JS Bin
You can also embed JS Bin code snippets into a blog post or Stack Overflow answer. JS Bin automatically saves code, so you need not worry about losing your work. In addition, JS Bin has a codecasting feature, which lets you record your coding session and casting it out to any number of participants, generally in real-time. But wait. There’s more! JSBin supports HTML, CSS and JS preprocessors like Markdown, Stylus, Sass, SCSS, Less, Coffeescript, TypeScript, and the React Library.
JS Bin is an open-source project, but if you want to support the project, you may pay for Pro features. With this, you’ll get access to SSL embeds, custom embeds CSS, sandbox mode (JS Bin runs as it normally does, but doesn’t save), asset uploading and private ‘bins’. JS Bin is one of the only online front-end developer playgrounds that offer DropBox integration. With Dropbox integration, this puts every bin as a full HTML file in your Dropbox
Apps/jsbin directory. This means you have a complete offline backup of your bins or any bin you edit. JS Bin is currently working on a collaborative mode feature.
Useful code examples are integrated with Codeply. You can also choose libraries, layouts & snippets right from the editor. Grab standard markup, snippets, templates & themes right from the editor. No more searching for libraries on CDN or example snippets. Figuring out which markup or CSS classes to use becomes easier. Designing layouts & mockups becomes faster. Codeply includes more than 50 popular libraries, APIs, plugins and frameworks. If there a new framework you’d like to see on Codeply, you can inform the developers and they’ll make it happen!
Even though you can change the online code editor and result layout to test the responsiveness of your site, Codeply has built-in screens for Tablet and Mobile. With the click of a button, you can see how your website will look like on tablet and mobile screens. In addition, Codeply is supported by a community of designers and developers who are implementing code, and facing the same challenges along the way. Codeply is not just a CSS art gallery. Leverage over 40,000 real-world frontend coding examples, frontend code snippets, & starter templates.
Dabblet is an open-source beautiful interactive CSS playground. Dabblet provides quick testing of snippets of CSS and HTML code. A code project in Dabblet is aptly called a “dabblet”. The Dabblet frontend playground uses -prefix-free so that you won’t have to add any prefixes in your CSS code. -Prefix-free lets you use only unprefixed CSS properties everywhere. It works behind the scenes, adding the current browser’s prefix to any CSS code, only when it’s needed.
No matter your skill level, Glitch makes it easy and fun to express yourself with code. You can create on your own or as part of a team. Glitch has an inclusive, creative & supportive community of coders, designers, developers, artists, activists, students, and educators. The multitude of users have created over a million web apps. Glitch is both a powerful front end playground, as well as a learning tool.
CSSDesk is an online HTML/CSS sandbox and front end playground. CSSDesk lets you experiment with CSS, see the results live, and share your code with others. This coding playground contains a lot of nice code experiments that can be freely downloaded and implemented into any website or mobile app.
Codesandbox is so good, it should be the first playground on this list. It is the preferred coding playground for a lot of web developers. It makes web development faster by providing an instant IDE and prototyping tool. Codesandbox is cross-platform and works from any device, with no sign up necessary. It has several templates (for React, Angular, Vue and other frontend frameworks), making it easy to start developing with no setup necessary. Because it has Visual Studio Code built-in, the editor looks familiar to VS Code users. When using Codesandbox, the editor and a live preview are shown side by side. So far, this coding playground has been used to create over 5 million static websites, components, and full-stack web apps. This website is a great place to experiment with learning a new framework, evaluating npm modules and testing out components with functional examples.