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The Best Integrated Development Environments Software of 2021
Our integrated development environment software reviews are the result of over 40 hours of research on 20+ integrated development environment software companies from across the web. These reviews and our integrated development environment software guide help small businesses and startups find the best integrated development environment software for their business.
Adobe Flash Builder 4.7 is an integrated development environment software for building games and apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS using ActionScript and the open-source Flex framework. Direct-to-device publishing and debugging features make building mobile games faster and include built-in support for Adobe Scout.
Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP is a development tool based in Eclipse to create desktop, mobile, and web apps using ActionScript, PHP, and the open-source Flex framework. Build native applications for Android, iOS, and Blackberry Tablet OS and package apps for upload to application stores.
Both versions include debugging and testing on a mobile emulator or locally connected mobile device and faster coding through syntax coloring, code collapse, statement completion, refactoring support, interactive step-through debugging, and live highlighting of invalid references. They also have over 100 code templates with code assist.
Android Studio is the official integrated development environment software for Android application development. Users can build apps for every type of Android device with a visual layout editor that allows them to create complex layouts. Other key features include:
APK analyzer to reduce Android app size, compare APKs to see app size changes, and inspect the manifest and DEX files
Fast emulator to install and run apps faster and simulate different configurations and features, including Google’s ARCore for building augmented realities
Intelligent code editor that includes code completion for Java, Kotlin, and C/C++ languages to write better code more quickly
Flexible build system powered by Gradle to customize builds and generate multiple variants for different devices
Built-in profilers to obtain real-time statistics for the app’s memory, CPU, and network activity and identify performance issues
Debugger that lets users set breakpoints in their code and examine variables and evaluate expressions at runtime
Pros & Cons
Includes debugging, code refactoring, and data modeling
Deployment wizard supports one-shot and keep-synchronized setups
Multiple protocols, including FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and Capistrano
Automatically publishes Ruby on Rails applications to Heroku, Engine Yard, and other hosting services
Git integration puts projects under Git source code control
Team member collaboration through merge, pull, and push actions to remove repositories
Facilitates Git-based deployment
Built-in command line terminal to execute language utilities and operating system commands
Customization of IDE setup by extending core capabilities through custom command scripting
Integrated debugger that sets breakpoints, inspects variables, steps through code, and provides other commonly used capabilities
Preconfigured development environments include all the plug-ins, SDKs, and libraries needed for building serverless applications
Environment for debugging and testing AWS Lambda functions locally to improve code quality
Built-in image editor to edit, crop, resize, flip, and rotate images right from the browser
Fully customizable view by adjusting panels in any direction with drag-and-drop action
Collaboration tools for coding together in real time and chatting from within the IDE
Maintain multiple cloud-based development environments to isolate project resources
Pros & Cons
No additional charge for new customers when combined
There is no additional charge for AWS Cloud9. If you use an Amazon EC2 instance for your AWS Cloud9 development environment; you pay only for the compute and storage resources (e.g. EC2 instance; EBS volume) that are used to run and store your code
Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS
Support: Phone, support ticket, live chat, 24/7 premium support, remote assistance, self-help Resources, community support, customer support portal
Brackets blends focused visual tools into the editor to provide users with extra help when needed. Its inline editors let users open a window into the desired code so they can work on code side by side, instead of jumping between file tabs, and without popups. Live previews provide a real-time connection that instantly shows changes to HTML and CSS on screen as they’re made. It also includes preprocessor support that lets users apply Live Highlight and Quick Edit with their SCSS and LESS files.
Code:: Blocks is a free Fortran and C/C++ integrated development environment software designed to be extensible with a plug-in framework and fully configurable. It works across platforms, running on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and supports multi-target projects. Code:: Blocks has an easy to navigate, tabbed interface with syntax highlighting, code completion, smart indent, and open files list for quick switching between files. It supports multiple compilers with a fast, custom build system without make-files needed. Users have workspaces to combine multiple projects with support for parallel builds and simple task management tools make it ideal for multiple users.
Code:: Blocks’ debugger interfaces GNC GDB and supports MS CDB. Debugger includes breakpoint support, including code and data breakpoints, breakpoint conditions, and breakpoint ignore counts. It also provides support for watching user-defined types through scripting, views CPU registers, switches between threads, and provides a custom memory dump.
Errors displayed as code annotations or tooltips in the editor window
Clickable errors via the build tab
Supported debuggers include LLDB, XDebug, and GDB
Refactoring includes renaming symbols and files, implementing inherited virtual and pure-virtual functions, and changing function signatures to match headers
Workspace Mirroring to work remotely on workspaces from anywhere
Source control plug-ins for Git and Subversion
Rapid Application Development tool for building wxWidgets-based applications
The Eclipse Marketplace Client also supports virtually limitless customizations and extensions. Users can find and install new plug-ins from an extensive ecosystem of providers. They can also build and publish their own plug-ins on the marketplace using the Plugin Development Environment.
Mission-critical tools, including integrated version control systems and various supported frameworks without plug-in requirements
Productivity boosters, including automating repetitive development tasks and predicting the user’s needs
Developer ergonomics that follow the user’s context to automatically bring up corresponding tools
Extensive database editor and UML designer
Test runner user interface
Supports Google App Engine, Hibernate, Java EE, Grails, OSGi, Play, GWT, Struts, and Spring, among others
AIR Mobile supports Android and iOS devices
Pros & Cons
Offers a free trial
Includes all key development features
Paid versions are cost-prohibitive compared to other IDEs in the space
JDeveloper is a free IDE software offered by Oracle that simplifies the development of Java-based applications. It provides end-to-end development for Oracle’s platform and applications and integrates development features for web page design, database development, mobile, and web services in a single tool. Developers can design, generate, and visualize their code with JAVA, UML, and database diagrams within an advanced coding environment. Key features include:
Visual editors, structure panes, editing dialogs, and property inspectors to reduce tedious coding
Integrated profiling, testing, and code auditing features ensure application quality
Integrations with versioning, build, and deployment tools enable application packaging and deployment through the IDE or automated processes
Enhanced team development through integrations with various version management solutions
Oracle Developer Cloud Service integrations provide full life cycle tracking and team collaboration
Oracle Mobile Application Framework integration lets developers build on-device iOS and Android applications and web mobile applications directly from the IDE
Version control with support for Git, Subversion, Mercurial, CVS, Bazaar, and Perforce
Dev team tools for pair programming and code collaboration
Shared toolbox to store common snippets, user scripts, macros, shell commands, etc.
Easy file and project navigations for workflow management
Graphical debugger and local, remote, Chrome, multi-process, and multi-threaded debugging
Integrated unit testing that supports major frameworks
File sorting and grouping for open files pane by file extension, language, location, and directory
Database explorer for SQLite content and extensions for Oracle and MySQL
Simple drag-and-drop interface
Code templates with predefined pieces of code
Smart editing that highlights source code semantically and syntactically
Refactoring tool for running inspections and transformations on selected files or define a custom inspection
Built-in support for several compilers, including Clang, GNU, Cygwin, MinGW, and Oracle Solaris Studio
Multi-session GNU debugger integration with code assistance
Code formatting to customize the source code to a preferred layout
Downable bundles that support other programming languages
RStudio is an integrated development environment for the R programming language that has a free, open-source version and a commercial edition. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux desktops or in a browser connected to the RStudio Server. RStudio supports authoring Word documents, PDF, HTML, and slideshows, and interactive graphics with ggvis and Shiny.
RStudio’s open-source edition requires users to access RStudio locally, and support is only provided through community forums. It includes syntax highlighting, smart indentation, code completions, and an interactive debugger. Users can execute R code directly from the source editor and manage multiple working directories.
RStudio Desktop Pro includes all the features in the open-source edition, plus users can connect directly to RStudio remotely and have access to professional drivers. It also includes a commercial license for organizations that can’t use AGPL software and priority email support with an eight-hour response time during business hours.
Sublime Text is an application development and text editor for code, markup, and prose that allows cross-platform usage, syntax changing, and complete customization. It’s lighter weight than an IDE but supports many IDE features and has a powerful API that augments built-in functionality with plug-ins. Key features include:
Cross-platform functionality takes advantage of native functionality while using a custom UI toolkit for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms
Multiple selections feature allows users to make 10 changes simultaneously, instead of one at a time, to rename variables and manipulate files faster
Split editing support lets users edit two files side by side or edit two locations within the same file on one screen
Command palette saves infrequently used functionality to save time searching through menus or remembering key bindings
JSON files let users customize everything by file types or on a per-project basis, including snippets, key bindings, macros, menus, completions, etc.
Xcode is a free IDE that contains a suite of tools developers use to build apps specifically for Apple platforms. It can manage the entire development workflow from app creation to testing to submitting apps to the App Store. Xcode streamlines code completion and builds Universal apps by default to support Mac with Apple Silicon. Key features include:
Simulator tool provides rapid prototyping and app testing in a simulated environment
Instruments tool profiles and analyzes apps to improve performance and find memory problems
Create ML tool creates custom machine learning models for apps
Reality Composer constructs 3D compositions and augments reality experiences
SwiftUI maintains a staple API to improve performance and share code across Apple platforms
Widget platform to build Mac, iPad, and iPhone widgets
StoreKit testing to create test scenarios and describe subscription and in-app purchase products
Multi-platform app templates to share code among macOS, iOS, and iPadOS
Support: Phone, email, support ticket, self-help resources, community support, customer support portal
Integrations: SwiftUI, Safari
How We Chose the Best Integrated Development Environments Software
Integrated development environment software consolidates the basic tools a developer needs to write and test new software and apps. IDE platforms centralize the three tools used most, which are source code editors, compilers, and debuggers, and include various other integrated features that enhance the software’s value. There are tons of IDE software companies touting multiple features, so we evaluated companies on important development features, collaboration tools, and reporting tools.
We recommend software that comes with a variety of development features, such as debugging, code refactoring, and data modeling. Debugging tools help users identify and fix errors or bugs within the source code. Code refactoring lets users restructure and improve existing computer code without changing its functionality. Data modeling enables developers to create logical and physical data model diagrams.
Ideally, IDE software will have built-in tools for collaboration. Real-time code collaboration allows multiple developers to work together on the same project. We looked for IDE software that either had built-in file sharing features, allowed real-time collaboration through an extension, had an open-source plug-in for remote pair programming, or offered some other type of collaboration tools that let developers edit and debug together in real time.
Detailed reports help the user understand and improve their development process. Quality metrics, error diagnostics, test status reporting, and automated error reporting can all help developers make valuable improvements. We recommend software with robust reporting tools.
What Is Integrated Development Environments Software?
Integrated development environments software, also known as IDEs, are platforms that combine a comprehensive set of programming tools for software development into a single product. IDEs can be used to build new software, web and mobile apps, web pages, and web services. Most IDE software includes built-in or integrated tools for editing source code, compiling new code, automatic code completion, and debugging. Simply put, developers use the IDE’s single graphical user interface to write and edit source code using a code editor, the compiler translates this code into a readable computer language, and the debugger tests the software to solve any hidden issues.
Benefits of Integrated Development Environments Software
The primary benefit of an IDE is improved developer productivity by bringing the various tools a developer needs together in a single platform. This reduces setup time because the developer doesn’t have to spend time gathering, deploying, integrating, and configuring multiple development tools. Other benefits include:
Save development time and effort: IDEs are supposed to make developing easier and faster by providing tools and features that organize resources, provide coding shortcuts, and prevent coding errors. With integrated tools, developers also don’t need to switch between applications to complete development tasks, saving more time.
Enforce standardization: Working in the same development environment standardizes the development process and forces development teams to adhere to a standard way of doing things. IDEs with predefined templates and shareable code libraries further enhance this standardization.
Automatic error checks: IDEs use a compiler to parse information and highlight errors it finds in a user’s code to ensure top-quality code creation and an easier, quicker way to discover errors before testing and launch.
Must-Have Features for Integrated Development Environments Software
To qualify as an IDE, the platform must have a code editor, compiler, and debugger that are accessed through a single graphical user interface. Good IDEs also contain essential features that make creating error-free code easier and faster. Therefore, must-have IDE software features include:
Code editor: A more enhanced text editor designed to write and edit source code, which may have a simple interface with language-specific syntax highlighting or drag-and-drop components
Compiler: A tool that translates programming language into a language executable by a computer and analyzes, parses, and optimizes code to ensure accuracy and improve performance
Debugger: A tool used to identify and fix errors within source code and test its functionality and performance before the application is released
Build automation tools: Code completion tools that automatically identify and insert common code components to save time writing code and help prevent errors
Code refactoring: A feature that allows developers to restructure existing code without changing the way it works to improve the design or implementation of a software or an app
Integrations and plug-ins: Ensure the IDE provides all the development tools a user needs in one platform for improved workflow and productivity
The Cost of Integrated Development Environments Software
The majority of the IDE software companies on our list offer their platforms free of charge, and most are open-source products. Open-source software allows anyone to inspect, modify, and enhance its source code. Of the free options, some are stand-alone applications, while others are part of a larger platform. Research free IDEs housed within larger platforms to determine whether you must purchase other parts of the platform or storage to fully utilize the IDE. While some of the free IDEs may be considered lightweight compared to paid platforms, many are touted as being just as robust.
IDE software companies also may offer a free version and a paid version. Typically, the free version will be missing some features, often premium support, certain plug-ins or integrations, or other premium features. However, the free version usually includes all the basic development features and may work fine for some users’ needs.
Pricing for paid versions varies greatly. Of the IDE software with paid versions on our list, one has per-user/per-month pricing starting at $14.90, one has per-seat/per-year pricing starting at $65, and the rest require annual licenses ranging from $80 for a personal license to $995 for a professional version.