For all the software and web developers out there, the right tool for the job can really make all the difference. For some, a basic text editor like vim, emacs or even a simple notepad-like app usually gets the job done. However, Integrated Development Environment suites (IDE) tend to offer a richer code editing experience that can include extras like wizards, debug mode and color coding, just to name a few. To that end, here are five IDEs that are worth considering for coding professionals.
If you are looking for the definitive IDE for Windows application development, look no further than to Microsoft's own developer toolset. Visual Studio products cover languages like C++, C# and VB.NET. In addition, you are also able to develop for the Windows x86, Windows RT, and Windows Phone. The latest version of Visual Studio is also designed to be optimized for touch, just in case you happen to be writing code on a Microsoft Surface. Visual Studio Professional will cost you $499.
If you are more of a Java developer, Oracle's got your back with their Netbeans IDE. Of course, despite the fact that excellent Java support is its claim to fame going as far back as the Sun Microsystems days, other languages like C/C++, Ruby, HTML5, PHP and more are supported as well. Netbeans is extremely extensible via its plugin-centric design, allowing you to add additional language syntax support and libraries, among other things. Netbeans is free under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) v1.0 and GNU General Public License (GPL) v2.
This IDE is quite comprehensive and even similar to Netbeans in a variety of ways, including its use of Java and plugin architecture. However, Eclipse as an IDE comes in a wild variety of flavors, catering to various needs and objectives in software development workflows. The Eclipse Foundation even provides a comparison page to view the differences between the variants of Eclipse. Eclipse is free under the terms and conditions of the Eclipse Foundation Software User Agreement unless otherwise specified.
Unlike the other products seen thus far, Code::Blocks, which is built on the wxWidgets framework, is exceptionally lightweight in size, yet still quite functional and feature-rich IDE. You can load up a number of under-the-hood compiler engines, ranging from GCC and LLVM, to Digital Mars and Open Watcom. Code::Blocks also takes advantage of multi-core compiling, allowing you to get the job done faster. Code::Blocks is distributed under the GPL v3.0 license which means it can be used freely by anyone.
If web and scripting languages are more of your style, Aptana is well suited for the task. PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python are supported as well as the likes of Adobe AIR. Even the studio itself is available as a plugin for Eclipse if you prefer the way Aptana handles your work and want to combine it with a more comprehensive IDE. Aptana Studio 3 is free and available solely under the GNU General Public License.
An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Customer Success Professional for Ultimate Software in Santa Ana, California.