What is IDE

IDE(Integrated Development Environment) is a design environment that enables programmers to consolidate the different aspects of writing a computer program by providing different tools to execute the task above. In layman’s terms, it is an environment where one writes codes.

An IDE generally consists of a source code editor, a compiler\interpreter, and a debugger. Modern IDE tends to have a plethora of new features such as regex checker, Syntax Highlighting, code completion, Command Line Interface, etc. This article aims to educate one about Integrated Development Environments, when should they be used, and which one should be used for a particular language.


The motive behind the initial development of IDE’s was to maximize the productivity of the programmer by providing appropriate tools in a Single cohesive Environment.

When development is done using an IDE, all the development is done in a single program. Such that IDE’s can be considered as an all in one package. Most of them are generally built targeting a specific programming language, as this allows for incorporating language-specific tools in the IDE, which would aid the programming paradigm of the specific Programming language.

Newer IDE’s have also implemented Version Control Systems such as GIT, CVM, SCS, etc. in their IDE’s which further provides backup of different versions of the code.

Integrated Development Environment Vs. Text Editor

A lot of people have a misconception that an IDE is always required to create a program, which is not necessarily true. A text editor, for the most part, is capable of writing code that could further be converted into machine language via an Interpreter or Compiler. Then what exactly is the difference between the two? And when should one be used over the other?

IDE Vs. Text Editor: Use Cases

An IDE is generally a rational choice when the program that needs to be coded is large enough and contains a lot of features. As the IDE would provide the programmer with apt tools which would ease up the development process of the program, whereas,

A Text Editor (paired with a language-specific interpreter\compiler) is the preferred choice when the code that is to be written is subtle, or when one is learning about the specific programming language (as beginner codes aren’t lengthy). They would lack the features of an IDE, but when the code is little, or the coder is unaware of the tools, the tools barely serve any purpose.

IDE Vs. Text Editor: Resource Usage

A lot of IDE’s tend to have one drawback that follows all the splendid features provided by it. That they have a high System(resource) requirement, this may not be that big of a concern for some people as modern rugs tend to have several Gigabytes of System memory and a fast processor. Still, for some, this High Resource Requirement is a deal-breaker.

Text Editors barely have any system requirement for them to run. They consume such a low amount of resources that most operating systems tend to have one variant of them preinstalled. That makes Text Editors a viable choice for people who don’t have the system resources to run an IDE.

IDE Vs. Text Editor: Code Appearance

IDE’s incorporate features such as Syntax highlighting, Dark Background, Just in time Interpretation, etc., due to which the code appears a lot more understandable and elegant. Such that some python code, when written in Pycharm IDE appears like this-

But the same code when written in a Text Editor(Notepad) appears like this-

As one can see, the code in the IDE is a lot more understandable than the one written in a Text Editor. This makes the code a lot more recognizable by others and makes the process of error finding a lot less exhaustive.

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About the Author

Piyush values education and has studied from the top institutes of IIT Roorkee, IIM Bangalore, KTH Sweden and Tsinghua University in China. Post completing his MBA, he has worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group and focused on building sales and marketing verticals for top MNCs and Indian business houses.

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