It is feasible to develop apps without using integrated development environments (IDEs) or by manually integrating numerous utilities with a lightweight text editor such as Vim or Emacs. However, in an enterprise setting, the time savings, environment standardisation, and automation features of modern IDEs outweigh other issues. In this article, we will take a brief look at a few popular open source IDEs.
An integrated development environment (IDE) is an application development software incorporating standard developer tools into a single graphical user interface (GUI). An IDE is often made up of the following components.
A source code editor: This is a text editor that can help you write software code by highlighting syntax with visual cues, giving language-specific auto-completion, and checking for problems as you type.
Local build automation tools: These tools automate simple, recurring operations associated with making a local build of software for usage by developers, such as converting computer source code into binary code, packaging binary code, and performing automated tests.
Debugger: A program that can graphically display the location of a bug in the original code and is used to test other applications.
Why do developers use integrated development environments (IDEs)?
Since different tools do not need to be manually configured and integrated as part of the setup process, an IDE allows developers to start programming new apps fast. When every utility is represented in the same workbench, developers no longer need to spend hours individually learning how to utilise different tools. This is also valuable for onboarding new engineers, who may use an IDE to learn about a team’s standard tools and workflows. In reality, most IDE capabilities, such as intelligent code completion and automatic code creation, are designed to save time by eliminating the need to write out whole character sequences.
Other popular IDE features are intended to assist developers in organising their workflow and problem-solving. IDEs parse code as it is written, identifying problems caused by a human mistake in real-time. Because a single graphical user interface represents utilities, developers can carry out activities without switching between apps. Most IDEs also include syntax highlighting, which employs visual clues to discern grammar in the text editor. Class and object browsers, and class hierarchy diagrams for specific languages are also included in several IDEs.
Today, most enterprise development teams choose a pre-configured IDE best suited to their specific use case. So the question is not whether to use an IDE, but which one to use.
The benefits of using an IDE
When writing a program, using an IDE will save you a lot of time and work. Among the benefits are:
- Less time and effort: An IDE’s fundamental aim is to make development faster and easier. Its tools and features are designed to assist you in organising resources, avoiding mistakes, and providing shortcuts.
- Enforce project or corporate standards: A group of programmers will adhere to a traditional manner of doing things just by working in the same development environment. Bars can be enforced further if the IDE provides predefined templates, or code libraries are shared across multiple team members/teams working on the same project.
- Project management: This can be done in two ways. First, many IDEs provide documentation features that either automate developer comments or force developers to submit comments in various sections. Second, having a visual representation of resources should make it much easier to understand how an application is laid out rather than traversing the file system for hidden files in it.
Features of IDEs
There are several technical and business applications for IDEs, which means numerous proprietary and open source IDE solutions are already on the market. The essential distinguishing features amongst IDEs are listed below.
The number of languages supported: Some IDEs are dedicated to a single language and hence better suited to a specific programming paradigm. IntelliJ, for example, is best known as a Java IDE. Other IDEs, such as the Eclipse IDE, offer a wide range of languages in one package, such as Java, XML, Python, and others.
Operating system(s) supported: A developer’s operating system will limit which IDEs are viable (unless an IDE is cloud based). If the application created is intended for an end user with a particular operating system (such as Android or iOS), this may be an additional constraint.
Automation features: While most IDEs offer the three essential functions of a text editor, build automation, and debugger, many also enable refactoring, code search, and continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) tools.
Impact on system performance: If a developer wants to run other memory-intensive apps concurrently, the memory footprint may be vital to consider.
Plugins and extensions: Some IDEs feature the ability to adapt workflows to meet needs and preferences.
Popular open source IDEs for Windows
This is a free and open source IDE that is great for tweaking existing projects or creating new ones. NetBeans has a simple drag-and-drop interface and a plethora of helpful project templates. It is typically used to construct Java applications, although it can get packages or bundles that support other languages. C, FORTRAN, C++, C++11, HTML 5, Java, PHP, and other languages are supported.
- NetBeans has an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface that simplifies the software development process.
- It includes both static and dynamic libraries for use in software development.
GNU debuggers with many sessions can be readily integrated to provide code assistance.
- NetBeans allows its users to develop software from a remote location.
- It works with Windows, Linux, OS X, and Solaris.
- It can read and write Fortran and Assembler files.
- Qt Toolkit is supported.
- It works with various compilers, including Cygwin, Clang/LLVM, MinGW, GNU, and Oracle Solaris Studio.
Some NetBeans users have noted that it takes a lot of RAM. Therefore it may function sluggishly on machines with insufficient memory.
Code::Blocks is a well-known open source IDE for developers working on Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is a highly customisable IDE that runs consistently across all platforms, ideal for developers who regularly swap workspaces across systems. The plugin framework supported by Code::Blocks allows users to customise it to their specific needs and requirements.
- Code::Blocks works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- It is written in C++.
- It has an easy-to-navigate tabbed layout as well as a list of open files.
- No interpreted or proprietary languages are required for Code::Blocks.
- It may support a large variety of custom-built and pre-built plugins.
- Supports a variety of compilers, including MSVC++, GCC, Clang, and others.
- It includes a debugger with breakpoint support for users.
- Code::Blocks includes a text editor with syntax highlighting and auto-completion.
- External tools can be used to customise the product.
- It features straightforward task management capabilities that are perfect for beginner users.
Despite having a broad list of capabilities, Code::Blocks is a lightweight IDE. It is not appropriate for larger projects. It is a fantastic tool for beginners, but professional coders may find it annoying due to its limits.
- Plugins are supported through an integrated package manager.
- Comes with the smart auto-completion feature.
- Command palette is supported.
- It has several panes.
- Cross-platform editing is possible with this code editor.
- Code auto-completion
- Debugging errors
- Improved user interface framework integrations and simple navigation
- Project administration
- Access to a variety of databases
- Formatting and personalisation of syntax
- Unit testing is built-in.
- Shortcuts for coding and auto-correction features
- Editing of XML is possible
Intellij Idea is a free and open source IDE platform that helps developers be more productive. It is a sophisticated IDE that supports designing of all types of computer programs by providing a set of reliable tools. The community edition is completely free to use; however, Intellij Idea also has a commercial version if you want more features.
- Completion of smart code (symbol suggestions, chain completion, static members completion)
- Identifies duplicate codes
- Quick fixes and automatic inspections
- An environment centered on the editor
- Shortcuts for the keyboard
- Debugger inline
- Developer tools include a bytecode reader, FTP, and a decompiler
- Tools for automating compilation, packaging, and deployment are built-in
- Database tools that provide intelligent coding aid
Pycharm, as the name implies, is a free and open source IDE for the Python programming language. This integrated development environment is primarily intended for coders that use Python. However, it also supports other languages. Pycharm includes a solid Web development framework.
- Completing smart codes
- Inspections for compliance with the law
- Automated code refactoring
- Excellent navigational capabilities
- On-the-fly error detection and correction
Profiling that is integrated
- Can connect to Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and other databases right from the IDE
- Preview of live editing
- Code auto-completion and navigation
Android Studio is a free and open source IDE explicitly created for Google’s Android operating system. Mobile app developers use it to develop high quality Android apps. The most recent version is 3.5, and is based on Jetbrains’ IntelliJ Idea framework. It supports Gradle based builds.
- A visual layout editor allows you to see visible changes in real-time
- Various packing and labelling code tools
- Reduces the size of files by inspecting them with an APK analyzer
- Code completion with an intelligent code editor (Kotlin, Java, and C++)
Personalises the user interface
- Statistics about the app’s attributes can be seen in real-time (CPU usage, memory consumed, network)
- Support for the Google Cloud Platform and integration with other databases
- Templates and wizards help construct Android designs
Eric is a free and open source IDE for the Python programming language. Python is used to write it. It incorporates the Scintilla editor control, which is configurable and based on the cross-platform UI toolkit. Eric6 is the most recent version.
- A programmable window arrangement
- Syntax emphasizing
- Advanced code lookup
- Integrated Web browser and integrated class-browser
- Refactoring software
- Highlighting of errors
- Mode debugger
- Advanced project management tools
- Connection to various databases
- Code auto-completion
jGRASP is a free and open source IDE designed to improve program comprehensibility by enhancing software visualisations. Designed exclusively for Java, it offers an easy-to-use interface, and runs on all systems thanks to the Java virtual machine.
- Automatically generates three software visualisations: UML class diagram, control structure diagram, and dynamic viewers
- Debugger integrated
- Plugins that detect flaws check style and see dead code decoder
- Colourisation of source code
- Java code auto-completion
- Code editing and code font size customisation
- Customisations and extra plugins
Aptana Studio 3
- FTP, FTPS, and Capistrano are just a few of the protocols available
- Publishes Ruby and Rails apps automatically
- Debugger integrated
- Integrates with third-party repositories
- Language facilities like Gem and Rake are built-in
- Access to a command line terminal for executing OS commands
- Custom commands to configure the IDE according to your requirements
- Navigation and tracking of codes
- Code completion
The IDE is a very personal thing for programmers because they spend so much time with it. Furthermore, their performance is linked to the efficacy of the IDE they are using. The essential requirement of programmers is IDE software. Indeed, programmers have gained an advantage as a result of recent developments in IDE technology. Because the integrated development environment is specialised software that requires significant technical understanding and the sense to utilise it, firms frequently seek out programmers and coders who are well-versed and proficient in its use.
Artificial intelligence in IDEs is bringing about good changes in the way coding is done. Smart auto-suggestions and code completion tools have considerably reduced coding time. The introduction of numerous programming languages has presented coders with a plethora of possibilities for developing software. Simultaneously, it has created a demand for solid IDEs capable of working on different frameworks with multiple languages. Businesses that use IDEs instead of simple code editors for their programming needs save money. Companies should invest in integrated development environment software to meet their programming needs.
The best part? We have several IDEs available for Windows that are both free to use and fully open source.