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19/08/2021

How to choose the best IDE for your projects

Technically, coding can be done with the use of a simple notepad. However, the choice of tools is crucial for the comfort and quality of one’s work and, consequently, for their value on the labor market. Therefore, the selection of the right equipment should take place before the actual coding.

Spinbits - programming 2.webp

Are you looking for a way to quickly and effectively start programming a new app?

Many developers take advantage of IDEs, which stand for Integrated Development Environments. These software platforms are extremely useful. Amongst many advantages, they:

  • safe time spent on programming;
  • are multifunctional and legible;
  • facilitate learning processes;
  • improve one’s work organization;
  • make the problem-solving processes easier.

Integrated tools are easier to use and simpler to adjust. Their intuitive qualities are handy, especially in the case of a new, challenging project. They are used by both junior and senior developers.

There are many IDEs on the market, all adjusted to goals, programming languages and work styles preferred by their users.

Apart from the main goal, the facilitation of application development, IDEs may differ immensely. Some are designed to include code editors, compilers or debuggers, whereas others are equipped with class browsers or hierarchy diagrams.

On the same note, they may be sold separately or in a package. Additionally, only some of them are publically open and free of charge. As a result, there are a few issues to take into consideration before choosing the best software suit.

How to pick an IDE that suits your project needs?

The usage of developed platforms to create one’s work is fairly common. Well-adjusted IDEs are intuitive. They help in choosing the proper programming language, quicken the debugging process and facilitate the refactoring of already-written codes. Therefore, picking an IDE may significantly impact the quality and pace of someone’s work.

What to look for while selecting a perfect IDE for your project?

Instead of blindly choosing a well-marketed version, we suggest taking into account the following:

- Versatility

Most software is accessible only for computers and laptops. Yet, there are some solutions enabling their users to work on mobile phones or tablets. Consequently, it is possible to work remotely, broadcasting from almost any place on Earth.

- Programming Language

Think about tools that you use on everyday basics. Some IDEs are most useful when you write in C/C++, Java, Python or Ruby. Others work best for projects involving Apple applications or a versatile coding environment.

- Workstyle

Do you work alone? Maybe you need a platform for real-time collaborations? Pick an environment that allows you to easily cooperate on your projects. It is worth mentioning that you can adjust the already-existing packages by installing additional plug-ins.

- Additional features

Depending on your expectations, you may choose between simple, intuitive IDEs or complex but versatile platforms. Many additional qualities may be overwhelming but handy over time. Some software allows their users to constantly track ongoing changes, use additional services, immediately save current work or change the programming language on the spot. Others offer impeccable speed, neatness, test runners or auto-completion.

The IDEs which are worth considering.

Visual Studio Code

Used by millions, an open-source code editor which can be extended into a fully-featured IDE. Created and maintained by Microsoft. It has great extensions marketplace, where great plugins could be found. Setting up this code editor is easy and takes not much time unless you want to find the perfect combination. Visual Studio Code has a code completion feature called Intellisense which speeds up development. It has a smooth learning curve.

Key Features:

  • IntelliSense - autocomplete with based on variable types,
  • Command Palette - a tool that helps activate commands to improve workflow,
  • Refactoring - renaming stuff inside one file, apply changes to others,
  • Custom hotkeys and snippets,
  • Git integration - version control with ease to switch branches, stash changes and pull from remote,
  • Great marketplace with numerous extensions for your favourite programming language and nice colourful themes.

Atom

Maintained by GitHub, probably the lightest from IDEs mentioned before. It has a nice find and replace feature, but no refactoring out-of-the-box. You can configure every piece of this code editor.

Key Features:

  • Find text across the project to change it,
  • One of the nicest and easy to use version control tool,
  • Real-time collaboration,
  • Nice customizable,
  • Marketplace.

Jetbrains IDEs

JetBrains desktop tools include 10 IDEs, 2 profilers, and 3 extensions for example:

  • WebStorm (web development),
  • RubyMine (ruby development),
  • IntelliJ IDEA (Java, Kotlin, and more languages).

It basically has all that a programmer needs. It comes with numerous built-in features including test runner UI and code coverage. Its code completion and refactoring feature truly improves workflow. Unfortunately, due to its advanced features, it usually takes some time to boot up due to its advanced features.

Key Features:

  • Advanced search feature - finding references across the whole project and in files tree,
  • Robustly built-in debugging tool for selected language (with features not available in other IDEs),
  • Advanced version control tool including git tree schema,
  • Advanced refactoring - for example, the ability to find repetitive code in the project,
  • Advanced code completion,
  • Test runner UI and built-in tool to check code coverage,
  • Code coverage.

Below there is a table that sums up various features of mentioned IDEs:

FeatureVS codeAtomJetBrains’ tools
Code completionAvailable by installing extensions (Intellisense)Available by installing extensions Autocomplete pluginBuilt-in
Marketplace✅✅✅✅✅✅✅
Syntax highlighting✅✅ (offered by plugins)✅✅ (offered by plugins)Built-in
Online CollaborationLive share pluginTeletype (beta plugin)Code With Me plugin
Refactoring✅✅✅✅✅
resource-consuming✅✅✅✅✅ (good for low-end machines)✅ (best on high-end computers)
Version controlling
Debugging experienceNice, but sometimes hard to configurePoorGood!
Pricingfreefreecommunity edition available, but has limited features

Depending on the size of the project and its advancement, programmers may code in clouds, sandboxes or, most frequently, install them on their computers. Usually, the programming language is the most crucial criterion. Other features may be adapted to the developer’s needs and the general tendencies on the market.

Bonus - cool programming tools:

https://www.shortcutfoo.com/

https://codesandbox.io/

https://www.kite.com/

Choose an IDE that suits you best!

Maciek

Maciek

Frontend Engineer

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