Why You Should Use Integrated Development Environments

Why You Should Use an Integrated Development Editor

While there are many debates within the world of technology development, one that seems to have a lot of strong opinions on either side is the use of Integrated Development Environments or IDEs. Purists argue that using an IDE is an “easy” solution that takes much of the creativity and need for expertise out of the development process, and in some ways, using the tools is not truly developing code.

Others argue that IDEs are little more than a tool, and as such, are useful in the sense that they streamline the development process and prevent the need to reinvent the wheel. Why waste time doing something that’s already been done, when you can use an IDE and focus your attention on the areas where you need to be creative? While there is merit to either side of the argument, when you look a bit more closely, it really makes a lot of sense to use an IDE.

IDEs Offer Ease Of Use

The key word in Integrated Development Environment is integrated — that is, rather than having to use several different programs to develop software, an IDE brings them all together in a single, consolidated editor. For someone who is relatively new to coding, or for projects that require working with an extensive codebase, an IDE offers an easy way to navigate the code and get a better overview of the project, which can help save time and frustration. 

IDEs Offer Increased Functionality

When you choose the right IDE, you may get debugging and compiling capabilities, code autocomplete functionality, easier navigation, and other features that can save time and prevent the frustration that can come from using several different programs to accomplish those tasks. Instead of focusing on coding details like whether or not lines of code are indented or highlighted properly, or that you haven’t made any typos, you can focus on making decisions that actually matter within the functionality of the program. An IDE helps identify potential problems from the start, eliminating distractions (“Did I use the right method here?”) and time wasted trying to find errors or problems during the testing phase. 

IDEs Can Save Money

One of the most significant benefits to IDEs is the fact that they can save money. When developing new products, time is of the essence, and since IDEs allow for faster development, they are often preferred for large-scale projects. While there may be licensing and royalty fees associated with using an IDE, in many cases those costs are offset by the benefits of using the more comprehensive tool

IDEs Expand Coders’ Capabilities

One of the primary arguments against IDEs is that they don’t require coders to have a full understand of the programming language, and are essentially a shortcut. Others argue that IDEs are a good place to begin learning programming languages since they take some of the guesswork out of working with the code.

The fact is, whichever side of the fence you fall on, it’s hard to argue that IDEs don’t offer at least some benefit when it comes to stretching the capabilities of both coders and the programming language itself. The fact is, even when using IDEs, programmers need to understand how the libraries and language work so that they can use the environment to its best advantage. And when they are working within an IDE, the programmer can learn as he or she goes, as errors and problems are identified and corrected, preventing them from happening again.

Reference And Testing Tool

Finally, for those who wish to work in a text editor rather than an IDE, the IDE still has some benefits, as a reference and testing tool. By using the IDE as a tool to help devise especially tricky strings of code, programmers can check their work as they go, solving problems and finding new ways to write their code that they might not have otherwise considered.

The truth is that there may be times when an IDE isn’t the best choice; when you are writing simple code and do not need an entire suite of bells and whistles, a simple text editor may be sufficient for the job. However, to save time, money, and frustration, working with an IDE is the best choice, and can help you create better applications in less time.


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