All you need to know about IDE's (Their benefits and Past)

Simply put, IDEs are applications that are used to provide facilities for the development of other applications in different programming languages. Learn about the history of IDEs, their benefits, examples and their different types below.

The history behind Integrated Development Environments

Before IDEs came along the way, programs were written down in text editors by programmers. This had writing and saving the app in the text editor before running run the compiler, taking down notes of any error messages occurring then heading back to the text editor to revise its code.

In 1983, Borland Ltd acquired Pascal Compiler and published it as TurboPascal. This carried both an editor and a compiler.

Many say that TurboPascal might have given the idea of IDE but others also believe VB which stands for Microsoft’s Visual Basic which came out in 1991 was the first one in the market. In basic language, this was built. Throughout the 80s basic language was Visual Basic. Its rise gave the idea that programming can be given a thought in graphical terms and due to this productivity was seen.

Some of the IDEs are also focused to only work with specific languages:

  1. Jikes and Jcreator for Java.
  2. CodeLite and C-Free for C and C++.
  3. RubyMine for Ruby or Rails.
  4. NinjaIDE for Python coding.

The features they offer

The best among all the features is that it offers a central interface with all tools needed by a developer including the following:

  • A Code Editor

This is used to write and edit source code. Now, they are not like text editors as they work to either simplify or enhance the code of writing and editing process for developers.

  • Ability to Compile

It is used to transform a source code that has been written in a human-readable or writable language into a form that can be executed by the systems easily.

  • Debug your code on the go

Use them during tests, plus they also facilitate developers to debug all their application programs.

  • Build Automation Tools

These are used to automate tasks of the developers which are quite common to save a lot of time.

Useful additions

Class and Object Browsers

Class browsers are designed to study and reference properties of the object-oriented class hierarchy.

Object browsers are designed primarily to have an inspection of the objects which are instantiated in an application program running.

Diagram for class hierarchy

With this developers are able to visualize the structure of the object-oriented programming code.

It might be a standalone app although it may also be a part of one or more than one application that show compatibility.

INTERESTING READ: The history of Python and how it all began.

4 Major Benefits of using an IDE for your coding

These are designed to improvise developer productivity. This is done by squeezing the time of setup, boosting the speed of the tasks, keeping developers up to date and standardizing the process of development so that all can become a part of this.

  1. They are extremely agile

If you are not having this then you need to spend a lot of time as a developer configuring different tools of development. But with this, you can have the same set of capabilities in one place without the need to switch tools.

2. Your code is developed with speed and efficiency

This means that the productivity of the developer is boosted like developers can parse code and then have a check on the syntax during the editing process; this usually allows them to get instant feedback as syntax errors are introduced. To finish tasks they do not need to switch between applications. Moreover, its tools and features help all the programmers to organize resources, prevent any silly mistakes and implement shortcuts.

Moreover, they are also used to restructure the process of development by promoting holistic strategizing. What they do is they make the programmers re-think on their actions in terms of the development lifecycle (SDLC), as opposed to a series of isolated tasks.

3. Helpful Documentation is at hand

You shall not be left behind anything as it shall keep you updated and educated. Like its topics related to helping are updated all the time, along with new samples, project templates and much more. If you are a developer and you are eager to learn constantly and stay current on best practices then you are adding value to your team and to the enterprise as well thus resulting in boosting productivity.

4. Regulate your code base

It is also used to regulate the process of development thus helping all the programmers out there to work together and helping out new hires with getting up to speed so they are able to hit the ground running.

Do IDEs support multiple programming languages?

Yes, they do. However, not all of them. This is because the complexity of the integration of different languages, their libraries and dependencies cause the file size of the IDE to increase significantly.

Below are two examples that support multiple languages:

  1. Eclipse Software

It provides support to C, C++, Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Java many others. The best thing is that it comes in free and is an open-source editor for many development frameworks. From what it started it has expanded through plugins. It is being managed and directed by Consortium.

2. NetBeans by Apache

This again is free and open source. All functions of IDE are provided by modules. If you are a developer then by installing additional modules you can add support for other programs. It provides support to Java, PHP, JavaScript, C, C++, Python, Ruby, and many more.

Offline and Online IDE Types (With examples)

Adobe DreamWeaver

Ones which are used to develop HTML apps are quite popular. Like DreamWeaver, HomeSite and FrontPage are used to automate different tasks which take part in the development of websites.

Codenvy, Nitrous, Cloud9 and Heroku

These are becoming popular due to their capabilities and vendors need to offer one to keep their position in the market. They mark important as they provide programmers access from anywhere to their code.

Like Nitrous is a cloud-based development environment platform that provides support to Ruby, Python, Node.js and many more. More than 40 languages are supported by Cloud9 such as PHP, Ruby, Python, Javascript with Node.js and Go. Heroku is PaaS which is a cloud-based platform as a service and provides support to different programming languages.


It provides support to Perl, PHP, Python, Tcl, Javascript, Ruby and many more. Now, this is an enterprise-level tool which quite a higher price point.

Company-Specific IDEs

Visual Studio by Microsoft

It provides support to VB.NET, Visual C++, C# and many more. This is a Microsoft IDE which is designed primarily to create applications for the Microsoft platform.

Xcode by Apple

It provides support to Swift and Objective languages, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch APIs. This one is used to create iOS and Mac apps. Moreover, it also carries a GUI builder and iPhone or iPad simulator.

IDEs are continuously evolving and are having multiple features added on a daily basis. The big push currently is their move to cloud and ease of use. They are adding in various tools powered by AI to help beginner coders get their foot in and have a helping hand when writing code. Do let us know what part about the history of IDE, their components or types excites you and if you were ever a part of it?

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Paul Carruthers
Paul is an avid programmer who specializes in Python and Java with over 16 years of experience in the field. He loves automating complex tasks and creating useful scripts to streamline work and make life easier. He is also a massive fan of Linux and currently uses it as his main desktop OS. When he is not staring at code, he loves hiking and swimming in different parts of the world.


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