WebStorm 2020.3 Help

External tools

The recommended way to use third-party standalone applications, such as compilers, linters, code compressors, and so on, is to configure a tool-specific File Watcher. This File Watcher will track changes to your files and run the application automatically when required. See File Watchers for details.

Alternatively, you can configure a standalone third-party application in WebStorm as an external tool. As a result, a tool-specific command is added to the main menu and possibly to context menus, so you can run the tool right from WebStorm.

You can also configure to run the tool before a run/debug configuration. And of course you can run it from the built-in Terminal Alt+F12.

WebStorm allows you to pass contextual information from your project to the external tool as command-line arguments (for example, the currently selected file or the sourcemap directive), view the output produced by the tool, and more.

There are several types of external tools that you can add to WebStorm:

  • Local tools are applications that run locally on your computer.

  • Remote tools are applications executed on a remote server over SSH.

Add a local external tool

This example demonstrates how to add ImageOptim as an external tool and use it to optimize images in your project.

  1. In the Settings/Preferences dialog Ctrl+Alt+S, select Tools | External Tools.

  2. Click the Add button and specify the following settings:

    • Name: The name of the tool that will be displayed in the WebStorm interface.

    • Group: The name of the group to which the tool belongs. You can select an existing group or type the name of a new group.

    • Description: A meaningful description of the tool.

    • Program: The path to the application executable file.

    • Arguments: The arguments passed to the executable file, as you would specify them on the command line.

    • Working directory: The path to the current working directory from which the tool is executed.

    The Create Tool dialog

    In our case, ImageOptim will be run with the -o4 $FilePath$ arguments. You can use macros that can refer to the project name, the current file path, and so on. Clicking the Insert Macros icon will open the Macros dialog that lists all available macros and their values.

  3. Click OK to add the tool and then apply the changes.

Run the added local external tool

To open the selected file in the newly added toolimage, do one of the following:

  • From the main menu, select Tools | External Tools | Optimize Image in MyApp.

  • Right-click a file in the Project tool window and select External Tools | Optimize Image in MyApp from the context menu.

    Run External tool
  • In the Settings/Preferences dialog Ctrl+Alt+S, select Keymap, find the Optimize Image in MyApp action under the External Tools node, and assign a shortcut for it. Use the shortcut to run the tool.

    Create a shortcut for an external tool

When the tool runs, the output is displayed in the Run tool window.

Add a remote external tool

Remote SSH external tools are configured similarly to local external tools, but also define the remote server on which they are executed and require credentials for connecting to it via SSH. For details on working with the built-in SSH terminal, see Run SSH terminal.

  1. In the Settings/Preferences dialog Ctrl+Alt+S, select Tools | Remote SSH External Tools.

  2. Click the Add button to open the Create Tool dialog.

    This dialog provides the same set of settings as when you add a local external tool, but selecting the remote server is also suggested. This can be one of your configured SSH configurations or a Vagrant box. By default, WebStorm will ask you for the host, port, and relevant SSH credentials every time you run the tool on the server.

  3. Click OK to add the tool and then apply the changes.

Run the added tool on a remote server

  • From the main menu, select Tools | Remote tools | <Your tool>.

  • In the Settings/Preferences dialog Ctrl+Alt+S, select Keymap, find the action, and assign a shortcut for it. Use the shortcut to run the tool.

After you specify the host, port, and credentials, WebStorm will connect to the server via SSH and run the command, returning the output to the Run tool window in WebStorm.

Last modified: 20 November 2020