What Is Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

In this article we shall study the topic “what is integrated development environment(IDE)?”. Also, we will see how it relates with advantages of using IDE, characteristics of IDE, various kinds of IDE, softwares, etc.

Apps are structured  by fusing different development tools in one graphical user interface (GUI). This is done using a software, known as integrated development environment (IDE).

Definition of Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

Building of apps is done with the software, Integrated Development Environment (IDE). A programmer harnesses an integrated environment with all the important resources provided by an IDE. It relies on GUI to develop software apps.

Creators develop rapidly without necessarily going to another program. However, this is with the aid of certain popular practices like debugging, version control and data structure browsing. This leads to boosting efficiency by decreasing language learning period and providing identical user interfaces (UI).

Components of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

For a long time, softwares like IDEs have been in use and have transitioned from a software for testing and debugging to an integrated form of program that may act as a developer’s extension.

Below are the top features of an IDE:

Text Editor

 A text editor used for controlling source codes and writing is added in most IDEs.

Most program possess a basic interface that pinpoints specific syntax , however , others comprise visual components that permit users to drag and drop front-end features.

Code Completion Tools

By discovering and including regular code features strategically and intelligently, code completion tools aids developers. In general, it saves programmers time when programming and decreases the rate of errors and barriers.


Programming languages such as binary code are converted into machine-readable formats with the aid of Compilers. The machine code is first analyzed to make certain that it is correct ,then , the performance is boosted by the compiler by parsing and upgrading the code.

Programming Language Support

While some IDEs allow numerous languages, some are committed to single programming. Therefore, programmers narrow down their IDE options based on the language they’ll be programming in. Examples are IDE tools for Ruby, Python and Java


Programmers find and correct errors with the help of debugging tools .They copy real-life  scenarios to analyze performance and efficiency. In general, programmers and software engineers conduct an all-round test on code parts to find errors and mistakes before an application is released.

Integrations and Plugins

Given the name “integrated development environment,” it’s no surprise that integrations should be taken into account when evaluating  IDEs. Integrating other building tools with the IDE will increase building processes and efficiency because the IDE acts as the development portal ,thereby , preventing hitches and obstacles which can be caused by poor integration.

Various forms of Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)

 An integrated development environment (IDE) is contained in all programming languages and each one posses unique features that makes programming high-quality code easier, rapid and efficient.

Multi-language IDEs are IDEs that support various programming languages. Novice developers may dream of having knowledge of how to use a multi-language IDE(with the intention of improving their skills later). Popular for its extensive abilities and steadfast support for extensions and updates is the visual studio which is a good example of a multi-language IDE that can be utilized. The process of including an extension is no harder than introducing support for a fresh programming language.

Mobile Development IDE  

There are a variety of fresh tools in the ever evolving market for mobile app development. Developers require a platform committed to this kind of development to build useful and satisfactory apps . Examples of mobile development IDEs utilized by Android and iOS platforms are;Android Studio and Xcode,Web/Cloud-Based IDE .

Cloud-based IDEs cater different benefits when compared to local development environments. A SaaS IDE can do long-running operations without using a local workstation’s computational resources. Cloud IDEs are frequently platform-agnostic, allowing connectivity to a variety of cloud providers.

Language-specific IDE  

Programmers who only work in one language have IDEs invented exclusively for them. Some examples are Jikes and Jcreator for Java, CodeLite and C-Free for C/C++, and Idle for Python.

Why do developers use IDEs?

As many utilities don’t require to be manually arranged and integrated as part of the setup process due to the IDE , developers  begin developing fresh applications rapidly. Also, every utility is depicted in the same workbench so programmers don’t have to waste time learning how to use various tools . Newbie developers can rely on IDE to hasten up on a team’s standard workflows and tools. Features like intelligent code completion and automated code generation eliminates the need to type out full character sequences , in general, IDEs mainly saves developers time.

Developers structure their workflow and solve problems with the help of other common IDE features. IDEs parse code as it is written, so bugs caused as a result of human error are found quickly cause IDEs parse codes as it is written. Developers can execute actions without switching between applications because utilities are represented by a single GUI. In most IDEs that use visual cues to differentiate grammar in the text editor, Syntax highlighting is often present . Class system diagrams for certain languages and class and object browsers are added in some IDEs.

 Vim or Emacs are lightweight text editors that can be used by programmers to create personal IDEs or create applications without an IDE by manually integrating many utilities. Ultra-customization and complete influence is a major advantage this gives to some programmers and other thoughts are outweighed by time saved, quality environment and automation features of modern IDEs in an enterprise context.

The question these days is not whether to acquire an IDE, but rather which IDE to opt for. In this sense, a pre- configured IDE best fitted to their specific use case is preferred by many enterprise development teams presently.

Famous types of IDEs

 IDEs are used for various technical and business cases, therefore,  proprietary and open source IDE alternatives on the market are many. The most common valued distinguishing features between IDEs are:

  • The number of supported languages:  In case of specific programming paradigm, IDEs programmed to a single language are better opted for. IntelliJ, for instance, is known primarily as a Java IDE. The Eclipse IDE which supports Java, XML, Python, and others are examples of other IDEs that have a large array of supported languages all in one.
  • Supported operating system(s): IDEs success is reliant on the developer’s  operating system (unless an IDE is cloud-based), and restrictions might be experienced by developers building apps for end users with a specific operating system (like Android or iOS).
  • Automation features:  Many IDEs support additional features like refactoring, code search, and continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools, although ,IDEs still include the 3 important characteristics of a text editor ,build automation ,and debugger.
  • Impact on system performance:  If a developer wants to open other memory-intensive applications simultaneously, it’s key to consider an IDE’s memory record.
  • Plugins and extension: some IDEs can meet a developer’s needs and preferences with the capability to customize workflows.

More Info on Mobile development IDEs

Most companies have created mobile apps in addition to traditional web apps due to the increasing fame of apps developed for various gadgets. Platform choice is one of the most important things in mobile application development. For example, an IDE that provides cross-platform support for multiple operating systems is best suited for apps meant for use on iOS, Android and a web page.

Cloud IDEs

Compared to local development environments, IDEs that are accessed as a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is more beneficial. Firstly , downloading software and configuring local environments and dependencies is not necessary with any SaaS offering, hence, developers can contribute to projects rapidly .Also, mitigating the common “this works on my machine, why doesn’t it work on yours” problem, it provides a level of standardization across team members’ environments. Additionally, the can meet the intellectual property and security concerns . Because, no code resides on a programmer’s PC since they centrally control the development environment.

 There is a difference on the influence of processes on local machines. Developers are probably incapable of using workstations while a process is running because processes like running builds and testing suites are typically compute-intensive. Without monopolizing the compute materials of a local machine, a SaaS IDE can dispatch long-running jobs. Various cloud vendors obtains connection because Cloud IDEs are commonly platform agnostic.

Typical Characteristics of integrated development environments

Accessed through one graphical user interface (GUI),an IDE commonly consists of a code editor ,a compiler or interpreter and a debugger. The user uses the code editor o write and edit source code. The compiler or interpreter translates the source code into a computer readable language. Also, debugger solves the problems or bugs in the software.

Features such as programmable editors, object and data modeling, unit testing, a source code library and build automation tools can also be in an IDE.

An IDE’s toolbar is identical to a processor’s toolbar. The toolbar processes the color-based organization, source-code formatting, error diagnostics and reporting, and intelligent code completion. Compilation and execution of code increasingly and overseeing changes to source code in an organized manner by developers or a group of developers is through an IDE’s interface.  GitHub and Apache’s Subversion re third-party version control libraries which they create to integrate with IDEs.

IDE can support a model-driven development (MDD) .  An IDE translates a model used by developers to test run into suitable code. Then, with a high level of automation, the IDE debugs and tests the model-driven code. They can release it for further testing through the IDE or other tools outside the IDE. Once the build is test it properly and successful.

Advantages of using IDEs

 Due to rapid setup and standardization across tools, an IDE can increase productivity of software developers.

Developers waste time while choosing tools to utilize for different tasks and configuring the tools and learning how to use them. These are challenges, developer face without an IDE. But, this includes one, many or even all of the necessary dev-test tools in one integrated development environment.

They use a single user interface to house all tools an IDE uses. Organizing the key features for software development in the UI, an IDE standardize the development phases.

Varieties of IDEs and available tools

The kind of application a developer wants to design must match the IDE they use. For instance, if a developer wants to design an application on iOS, it requires an Apple’s Swift supported IDE for programming language. Different varieties of IDEs range from web-based and cloud-based to mobile, language-specific or multi-language.

An example of a web-based IDE with features such as a code editor, syntax highlighting, code completion and debugging is Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code.

Increasingly, they offer IDEs on a platform as a service (PaaS) delivery model. Accessibility to software development tools from anywhere in the world, from any compatible device; minimal to nonexistent download and installation requirements; and ease of collaboration among geographically dispersed developers are the advantages of this cloud-based IDEs. Cloud9 is an IDE from AWS that supports up to 40 languages including C, C++, Python, Ruby and JavaScript. Cloud9 gives its user any image editor or debugger for deployment to Microsoft Azure and Heroku (which is a cloud-based PaaS IDE) and code completion.

Codes that runs on iOS or Android devices typically works on an IDE for mobile development. An example of a cross-platform mobile IDE(IDEs that can create code for multiple mobile platform types) is Xamarin. A developer writing a feature in C and Xamarin translating to Swift for iOS and Java for Android is a good example. Also, UI tests and distribution of beta tests to users is provided by Xamarin.

 C-Free — which supports a code editor, debugger and an environment to run C and C++ code — are language specific IDEs. Aforementioned Cloud9 and Visual Studio Code are multiple languages that some other IDEs support. NetBeans, Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA are other famous IDE tools


Programmers code high-level language program as ASCII text into a source code file. Also, they use a unique file extension in locating that source code file. Examples of them are: asm .c .cpp .java .js .py. As you might guess for our examples – Assembly, “C”, “C++”, Java, JavaScript, and Python, however, they are just ASCII text files (other text files usually use the extension of .txt).

The programmer must convert the source code into a machine readable code file specifically for the computer’s CPU (usually an Intel or Intel compatible CPU within today’s world of computers). Acquiring a program from its source code phase to processing the program on your computer requires various processes.

Formerly, to make the conversion and run our program we had to use several software programs (a text editor, a compiler, a linker, and operating system commands) , however, they are all integrated into one program presently. Although, various software tools that build an environment utilized by programmers to design software constitute this one program. Thus the name: Integrated Development Environment or IDE.

A compiler(and assembler and thinker) converts high-level languages into machine code for the CPU to execute. Examples of interpreted programming language are JavaScript, Perl, Python, and Ruby . C, C++, C#, Java, and Swift are examples of compiled programming languages. When a programmer runs the source code and then controls the IDE to compile and run the program, the following figures show the development of events in an IDE.

Integrated Development Environment(IDE)

Programmers select files for editing as source code on starting the IDE software and when changing they might either  “save as” or “save”. They usually direct the IDE to “compile & run” the program upon entering the source code. The IDE does the following steps:

  1. The test editor save unsaved changes to the source code file.
  2. It opens the source code file and executes the pre-processor compiler directives and other steps needed to get the file ready for the second step. The #include will insert header files into the code at this point. It halts the process and returns the user to the source code file within the text editor with an error message if it experiences an error. It secures the u76 code to a translation unit, a temporary file if it does not experience any problems.
  3. The compiler  converts the programming language code to machine instructions for the CPU, a data area, and a list of items to be under resolution. Linker handles this after opening the translation unit file.  They halt the process and return the user to the source code file within the text editor with an error message. However, this happens if it experiences any problems (usually a syntax or violation of the programming language rules). It  saves the machine instructions, data area, and linker under resolution list as an object file when it doesn’t experience any problem.

Linker’s Responsibility

  1. Linker is responsible for the opening and linking of the program object files with the library object file. The process stops and returns the user to the source code file within the text editor with an error message. This continues until they settle all linker items. It saves the linked objects as an executable file, if there is no experience of errors.
  2. The loader is an operating system’s program that load the executable file into the computer’s memory and have the Central Processing Unit (CPU) start processing the instructions upon direction by the IDE. The users may find out that the outputs are not correct as they interact with the program and enter test data. These kind of errors require the user to return to the source code to alter the algorithm. They know as logic errors.

Resolving Errors

Mistakes are unavoidable, despite programmers efforts to write flawless programs. Debugging is a way to solve these errors. In the order they occur, the three kinds of errors  are:

  • Compiler
  • Linker
  • Logic

Compiler errors are of two types; pre-processor (1st step) and conversion (2nd step). A review of Figure 1 above shows the four arrows returning to the source code so that the programmer can correct the mistake.

The compiler might give a warning message which in some scenerio may not be an issue to worry about during the conversion (2nd step)

For example: Data type demotion may be exactly what you want your program to do. But most compilers give a warning message. Warnings as their name denotes should be under analysis even if they don’t necessarily stop the compiling process.

The Advantages of Using IDEs

Developer productivity can be better with IDEs by lessening setup time, boosting the speed of development tasks and keeping developers up to date with the latest best practices and threats, Also, by standardizing the development process so that everyone can get on board.

  • Rapid setup: Without an IDE interface programmers waste time configuring various development items. Programmers can possess the same set of abilities in one place without needing to double between tools by integrating an IDE.
  • Rapid development tasks: There is assurance of a better developer productivity, with tighter integration of development tasks. For instance, the introduction of instant feedback as syntax errors is possible when developers can parse code and check syntax while editing. Doubling between apps to finish tasks is no longer necessary. Programmers also structure resources, avoid errors, and use shortcuts with items and features of the IDE

IDEs assist in redesigning the development process by enhancing broad strategizing which is more advantageous. Opposing a train of isolated tasks, IDE encourages programmers to ponder over their actions in relation to the entire development lifecycle (SDLC)

  • Continual learning: the capability of staying alert with information is another benefit. Also, with continously including new samples, project templates, and more an IDE’s help to update subjects. They add value to an enterprise and increase productivity when they update programmers on best practices.
  • Standardization: It helps programmers work in unison and helps newbies to pickup and start rapidly. In general, it supervises development process holistically.

Languages Supported by IDE

Features set aligns with the specifics of certain languages designed by certain programming language or a set of languages dedicated to IDEs . Xcode for the Objective-C and Swift languages, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch APIs for instance.

However, Eclipse (C, C++, Python, Perl, PHP, Java, Ruby and more), Komodo (Perl, Python, Tcl, PHP, Ruby, Javascript and more) and NetBeans (Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, C, C++ and more) do exist as multiple-language IDEs.

Although ,through plugins developers can regularly find help for alternative languages. Flycheck which is a syntax checking extension for GNU Emacs 24 with support for 39 languages is a good example.

Various kinds of IDE

Developers use different types of IDEs to design various kinds of codes. While some are specific to one direct language. Others are IDEs care base on cloud. Some are IDEs are for the production of mobile applications or for HTML. Also, IDEs that are specifically for Apple or Microsoft development.

Multi-Language IDE

Eclipse, Aptana, Komodo, NetBeans, and Geany –  are multi-language IDEs that support multiple programming languages.

  • Eclipse:  it has expanded through plugins, though it started as a java development environment. It supports C, C++, Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Java and others. It is a free and open source editor for many development frameworks. Eclipse.org Consortium directs this IDE.
  • NetBeans: Supports Java, PHP, JavaScript, C, C++, Python, Ruby, and more and it also is free and open source. Modules provide all functions of the IDE. Installing additional modules and softwares, developers can include help for other programming languages.
  • Komodo IDE: Supports Perl, PHP, Python, Tcl, JavaScript, Ruby, and more.  It is a company-level tool with a more increased price point
  • Aptana: Supports HTML, JavaScript, CSS, AJAX and others through plugins. Programmers who do web app development commonly use this.
  • Geany: Supports C, PHP, Java, HTML, Perl, Python, Pascal and many more. It has a big set of plugins easily edited environment.

IDE for Mobile Development Processes

 PhoneGap and Titanium Mobile from Appcelerator are examples of IDEs. People use it mainly for mobile development.

Multi-language IDEs and most other IDEs have mobile-development plugins. Eclipse, for example, has this functionality.


The most famous IDEs are the ones for designing HTML applications. For example, DreamWeaver, HomeSite, and FrontPage automate numerous tasks involved in the process of website development.

Cloud-Based IDE

cloud-based IDEs are rapidly increasing and becoming main-stream. Growing speedily is the ability of cloud-based IDEs. So, to join a competitive enterprise sellers must have to start making some offerings. Especially to programmers, so they can access their code with these Cloud IDEs.

Nitrous is a cloud-based development environment platform that supports Ruby, Python, Node.js and more. Cloud9 IDE supports more than 40 languages, including PHP, Ruby, Python, JavaScript with Node.js, and Go. Heroku is a cloud-based development platform as a service (PaaS), supporting different programming languages. This is a good example.

IDE That Are Specific to Apple or Microsoft

Pogrammers who work on Microsoft or Apple environments utilize the following IDEs:

  • Visual Studio: Supports VB.NET, Visual C++, C#, F# and more. Created to design apps for the Microsoft platform, Visual Studio is Microsoft’s IDE.
  • MonoDevelop: Supports Visual Basic, C/C++, C#, and additional .NET languages.
  • Xcode: Supports Swift and Objective-C languages, as well as Cocoa and Cocoa Touch APIs. This IDE is solely for creating iOS and Mac applications. It includes a GUI builder and an iPhone/iPad simulator.
  • Espresso: Supports XML, HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript. Espresso is a tool specifically for Mac web programmers.
  • Coda: Supports PHP, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, AppleScript, and Cocoa API. They highlight the IDE as “one-window development” for Mac users.

IDE Made for Certain Languages

IDEs like Jikes and Jcreator for Java, CodeLite and C-Free for C/C++, RubyMine for Ruby/Rails, and Idle for Python are IDEs, specific to one language.

Application security and the integrated development environment.

Directing security testing within an integrated development environment has often been a big problem. Although, application security is a key priority for development team. Developers are already directing different types of separate tools. That is, if they struggle to meet deadlines in agile or waterfall software development processes. Programmers face decreased adoption leading to higher security challenges, meeting the requirements of regulatory frameworks such as HIPAA and SarbOx compliance. Especially those who use New AppSec technology that lacks flexible APIs. They can’t utilize it freely within an integrated development environment.

Veracode gives a luxury of desktop, web and mobile app security testing solutions in a cloud-based service. They can fuse it in an integrated development environment to find and fix flaws in the SDLC. This is to improve application security with softwares.

See the List of things to learn.

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