So we know that there are many different programming languages out there, all designed to do this or that, but what do we actually use to write the code? Do we need to have special software for the different languages used? How much does the software cost, and what are the best programs to start using? Below, we will explore each of these questions!
If you are not sure what language you are interested in learning, check out What is the best programming language to learn.
IDE’s (Integrated Development Environment)
Programmers use software called IDE’s to write, manage, and build their code. So what exactly is an IDE? Lets break it down. The first letter “I” stands for integrated. This means that the software has multiple tools combined together in a single program. For instance, you can use the text writer tool to write code, then the debugger tool will let you know if there are any errors. Without integration, we would have to find software to do all these different things, making the whole process much more complicated and frustrating.
The next letter “D” stands for Development. We use the integrated tools at our disposal to develop or create something new. The final letter “E” stands for Environment. All the tools in which we use are bundled up together in a way that allows them to help each other and us, the user, interact with them in a productive manner. We do not need to jump into another program and spend time figuring out how that software works.
IDE’s are amazing tools from the start of a project, to the very end.
What are the popular IDE’s to use
There are hundreds of different IDE’s out, many specializing in a single language, so what one should you use? At the time of this writing, the two most popular IDE’s are Microsoft Visual Studio, and Eclipse.
Microsoft Visual Studio
Sound like just what you where hoping for? Great, but your probably wondering what an amazing tool like this is going to cost. The answer to that is… its free! There is a version Microsoft gives out for free called Visual Studio Community. This is not a stripped down trial version. It has been designed for students and individual developers to use.
If you are looking for access to more developer tools, services, and other benefits for small teams, you can check out Visual Studio Professional. At the time of this post, the price of Visual Studio Professional is $539.00 or $45.00/month.
This IDE lets you select the theme you want to use at setup. The main choices are a light theme, and a dark theme for the interface. The dark interface is very popular with programmers, as it reduces eye strain, and is much more bearable to view in darker rooms.
Visual studio can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Eclipse is an open-source IDE that is primarily used for coding in Java. Like Visual Studio, it supports plugins for different languages that you may be using. The primary languages it is used for are Java, PHP, C, C++, and Python. This software is completely free to use, though it is asked that you donate to give back to the community who has developed it.
Eclipse has a similar interface to Visual studio, and also includes the ability to change the user interface to either a light them, or dark theme.
Eclipse can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Text Editing Applications
IDE’s are great tools, but sometimes they can be overkill for what we are doing. For smaller jobs, there are smaller tools available. True, you can write code in almost any text application such as notepad, but the downside is that these applications where not designed to be used in this manner. So an IDE is too large for your needs, and notepad is too simple, what should you use?
Here enters an amazing program called Notepad++! This is a replacement for the notepad that is installed on your windows PC. Notepad++ looks very similar to the standard notepad, but includes a vast amount of support and formatting for many different programming languages. Best of all, this software is free!
Notepad++ allows you to change the interface color theme as you wish. You can download additional themes to customize it to best suite your needs.
It is common to have both, and IDE as well as Notepad++ used on the same computer.