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Integrated Development Environments

31
Jan
2024
Integrated Development Environments

Developers use countless toolkits during the creation process of software, from coding to testing. If we travel to the past and remember what developers did some years ago, we can show how they had to select, implement, integrate, and manage these tools separately. We think that you, as a developer, don't want to go back to the time of hieroglyphs on rocks and using candles instead of light bulbs. Maybe it sounds so exaggerated, but today's technological world moves faster than the speed of light, don't you think?

For this reason, you must be conscious of the evolution of Software Development and all it implies, considering that one of the most important elements when discussing Software elements is the tools you need. Today is your lucky day! This blog post shows how Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) could help you maximize your setup time, efforts, and resources using only software. Let's get started!

What is an Integrated Development Environment?

Integrated Development Environments are common developer tools that help create applications. The IDEs contemplate a singular form of work, as it combines common development tools within a consolidated Graphical User Interface (GUI). To be more accurate, nowadays, IDEs reflect software with numerous functions like debugging, source code editor, plain text editors, automation tools, and additional tools with compilation utilities.

Using IDEs allows you to centralize each activity within one space, reducing the time and effort required to select, configure, learn, and utilize multiple new tools, improving the project's productivity in general.

Integrated Development Environments (IDE) Evolution

If we walk in the past, or even if you talk with a developer with more than ten years in the field, you'll be surprised how code was only in text back in the day. Maybe it sounds weird and boring, but text was the universal technique when a developer needed to code; they used to use text editors like Notepad or Emacs a few years ago. Within this context, more specifically, they created entire programs inside the editors, saving them using extensions such as Java, and then they ran the compiler to identify any fault. It was a continuous process, where in the final stages of development, developers had to make the necessary corrections until the code was error-free.

Throughout time, these tasks started to be integrated into the coding process, achieving a good mechanization process by pushing just a few buttons. In this same order, it's important to mention that the first IDE wasn't Basic Visual by Microsoft in 1991. The first IDE was TurboPascal by Borland Ltd. 1983, where he presented an integrated editor and compiler. After that, several companies started creating IDEs that applied to different languages. Visual Basic integrated the old languages and became the most popular option in this decade. In other words, Visual Basic influenced the app development in graphical terms, unifying obvious productivity benefits.

Integrated Development Environment Features

1. Syntax Highlighting: Syntax refers to the right use of keywords, punctuation, orthography, and other language rules like indentation, braces, etc., according to the language used in the code. It's necessary to know that the program doesn't go through a compilation process and won't throw compilation errors if the syntax is incorrect. Hence, an IDE contains a syntax analyzer that helps fix any potential error while you code. Being realistic, it's an essential feature that allows you to accelerate the process and increase the developer's performance.

2. Languages Supporting: IDEs are handy programming tools for Software Development that work with a wide range of programming languages, integrating core features adapted to a specific language. For example, XCODE has an API for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, Objective-C and Swift languages. The IDEs can apply to many different languages, like C and C++, PHP, and Java supported by Eclipse; Perl, Python, Tcl, PHP, Ruby, JavaScript by Komodo, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, C, C++ by NetBeans.

3. Intellisense: It's also known as intelligent code completion or language-specific auto-completion, which allows automatically completing code while you write it. To be more accurate, suppose you want to write an "if loop," this function can detect the language keyword "If," and thanks to an automatic system combined with this function, the code elements are completed with the right code according to the "If" construct.

4. Debugger: Any beginner or advanced developer must know how to use a debugger in the IDE world. IDE built-in debugger's first and most important function lies in being a detective capable of traveling the inner workings of the code and providing clues to fix the bugs.

5. Compiler: Each supported language has an available compiler. When you finish the code, you can compile it to convert it from text to machine language so an IDE can read it. It also goes through a code execution process, and then the result can be seen in the IDE output window.

6. Version Control: A professional developer generally has a master version of the code in a Version Control System. Plus, sophisticated codebases typically require storage of multiple versions, considering that complex systems may have codebases with numerous branches.

7. Code Refactoring: It's a process consisting of changing the code internally without generating any change in the code output. In other words, this functionality is the same, with the only difference that allows modifications in the code to make it more readable, efficient, etc.

Integrated Development Environment Types

It's no secret that each project has its goals and specific requirements. For this reason, you must consider several aspects, such as programming languages, ease of use, reliability, and its type. Nowadays, you can appreciate different kinds of IDE, with key features adapted to each project. Here are the main types of IDE:

1. HTML IDE. HTML is a programming language used to create HTML programs such as Notepad++, Atom, and Adobe DreamWeaver CC. These tools automate a variety of Web Development processes.

2. Multi-Language IDE: This type of IDE can offer various language programs to help novices develop their programming experience. For example, Visual Studio Code is a popular multi-language IDE with good capabilities and a simple setup for extensions and updates.

3. Cloud-Based IDE: In this case, Cloud IDEs, short for Cloud-Based Development Environment Platforms, have a built-in feature for real-time pair programming with quick feedback, allowing developers to construct software with only a browser and remotely view the code.

4. Cross-Platform Mobile IDE: For example, AppCode and Android Studio maintain their use specifically for mobile development. It is necessary to point out that certain Cross-Platform Mobile IDEs, particularly multilingual IDEs, allow mobile application development plugins such as real-time chat and file manager.

5. Language-Specific IDE: This IDE is designed for Software Developers who only work in a single language. Jikes and Jcreator, for example, are intended for Java, whereas Idle applies for Python.

How to choose an Integrated Development Environment?

When selecting a specific IDE, you must consider the main goals and needs that apply to your project. In this section, you'll appreciate three principal factors to consider.

● Programming Language. Each IDE applies to different programming languages, so we must choose an option that contemplates or is compatible with the language used in the project.

● Platform. If you must work within a specific platform, whether Android or IOS, you must select an option compatible with the platform.

● Size and project complexity. If you're working on a huge and sophisticated project, you might require a more powerful IDE. However, a simpler IDE may suffice if we work on a tiny project.

Integrated Development Environment Pros and Cons

The most important advantage of using IDE in a project is performance in all senses. Using their iconic features, you can reduce the configuration time, increase development tasks, and inform developers about dangers. The main goal of any developer nowadays is to be aware of the latest and best practices and standardize the development process so that everyone can follow it. In short, using IDEs is viable from the point you see it.

Beyond its magnificent performance as a feature, we can mention IDE functionality's capability to streamline configuration processes. Developers can have a set of abilities in one space using an IDE, eliminating the need to change tools every moment. Another important feature is when the developer productivity increases thanks to IDE, considering their multiple benefits, such as code analysis, syntax analysis during editing, and a real-time feedback pipeline when introducing syntax errors. You can restructure the development process through an IDE, integrating comprehensive planning to get a greater advantage.

Another advantage of an IDE is that this type of software frequently adds new examples, project templates, and other content to its help sections. In this same sequence, this constant updating allows you to add value to your company, increasing productivity through continuous learning and integrating updates on best practices.

Although we would like only to have numerous advantages at our disposal, the truth is that IDEs contemplate their challenges, and some parts are not so good. The first challenge is that keeping up with frequent updates, which include new templates, samples, and features, can be complex. Additionally, an IDE cannot help you fix errors automatically; you will still need the knowledge to develop cleaner and better software code. Finally, to continue with this line of challenges, it is important to highlight that some IDEs are difficult for beginners to understand.

Conclusion

Using an IDE allows you to maximize your time, efforts, and resources by using toolkits and development methods to create software without interfering with the main program. In other words, using a broad collection of capabilities, these types of software make it simple to write, run unit testing, and debug code, allowing developers to work more effectively and enhance code quality. Integrated Development Environments are available for various languages, platforms, and development demands, highlighting their adaptability to meet a project's unique objectives. When selecting, consider the unique demands of your software application, such as the programming language, platform, project size, and complexity!