What is an IDE and which one should you use?
Integrated Development Environments or IDE’s are applications that provide a unified environment for software programmers and developers to accomplish all of their work in a single work space. These software suites typically provide for the writing of source code, as well as code compiling and debugging. Depending on the code language the IDE is designed for, it may also provide features such as syntax highlighting and code correction or even file uploading via FTP.
There are many types of IDE’s available today for almost every coding language from COBOL to jQuery. The advantage to using an IDE is that it eliminates the need to switch between different applications in order to construct code in different progamming languages. For example a web developer will need to code in XHTML but may also need to write code in CSS, PHP and more in order to develop a dynamic web design. An IDE allows the developer to write all this code in one single application and to check their work in real time.
Years ago, when the computer programming world was still in it’s infancy, IDE’s were not much more than command line interfaces similar to the CLI console found on most Linux and UNIX type systems today. And while there are still purists who insist that if you cannot write your code by hand you are not a ‘real’ programmer, pure text editors for development purposes have fallen out of favor with most programmers today, even the hardcore geek wants to work smarter and more efficiently, and an IDE allows them to do this. Even if it does cost a little geek cred.
One can find both free and commercial IDE’s available for download all over the internet, even the free and open source IDE’s are amazingly feature packed. Most of these IDE’s have been created by developers for developers, and that gives them the advantage of knowing what features are most useful for others who develop using the same coding language.