IDE stands for “Integrated Development Environment.” Basically, it’s a program/applicaton with a user interface for programming and development. These vary from full-fledged WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) environments, to souped-up text editors, with code-hinting, ftp-syncing and file uploading. People seem to have strong opinions on what works best for them, so there’s a lot of subjectivity in what you choose. Beginner’s tend to like more WYSIWYG-type IDEs, whereas programmers tend to prefer one’s that will support, and not get in the way of, their coding.

  •  Sublime Text 2

    Many coders contend that Sublime Text 2 is one of the best free text editors on the market.  What makes it especially nice is that it’s available on all major platforms (OSX, Windows and Linux).  The website states that you need to eventually pay for it, but there’s no time limit on the evaluation period, meaning you can use it indefinitely w/o needing to upgrade, should you so desire.  That’s extremely generous.

  • Notepad ++

    This is the free editor of choice of many Windows users and would probably be the editor I’d use if I were a Windows user, too.  It’s a wonderful editor with code hinting, highlighting, and code-folding.  It can be made even more powerful with a plugin named NppFTP, which installs a local FTP client inside of Notepad++.

  • Komodo Edit

    From their website, “Komodo Edit, based on the award-winning Komodo IDE, offers sophisticated support for all major scripting languages, including in-depth autocomplete and calltips, multi-language file support, syntax coloring and syntax checking, Vi emulation, Emacs key bindings.” The cool thing is that it is also FREE (we like free). It works on OS X, Windows, and Linux.

  • Komodo IDE

    Komodo is a full-featured development tool, complete with debugging, collaboration, emacs bindings, regular expressions and more. It works on OS X, Windows, and Linux.

  • Coda 2

    This is my IDE of choice. It is focused on supporting coding, so it tends towards being text-based. However, it supports all sorts of languages, with code-hinting in many. There’s also a GUI for CSS, if you forget what things mean. There’s an integrated previewer with “live-preview”, you can split screens, it’s got a built-in ftp client, it has site and sub-version management, it comes with a few reference books (HTML, CSS, Javascript), and you can add your own. It is a mac-only client.

  • BBEdit

    This is a time-proven text-editing IDE. OK, it’s actually more of what you’d term an “editor” than an IDE, but it’s got lots of great development stuff. If you like to work with text and text-highlighting, this is the tool for you (if you have a Mac). BBEdit is a lightweight editor, meaning it won’t hog all your computer’s energy and other resources (or your wallet), like some of the other IDEs out there (ahem, DreamWeaver, cough, cough). It will allow file management, project management, code completion (you can always turn it off if that bothers you, but personally I love code completion), even a “scratchpad” area for trying things out. It’s a Mac only client.

  • TextWrangler

    You might think of TextWrangler as BBEdit Lite. It can’t do all the cool site-management stuff BBEdit does, but it does color your coding and a few other goodies. The good thing is that it is the FREE version from the same company that makes BBEdit.

  • HTML Kit

    Like BBEdit for the Mac, this is more of an editor than an IDE. However, it has code-hinting, source control, and even a built-in ftp client, so it’s as good as Coda or BBEdit. Actually, it’s even better since it’s FREE. It’s a Windows-only product.

  • Eclipse

    This is the IDE of choice for the Java developers that I’ve known. Here’s a description from their website.
    Eclipse is an open source community whose projects are focused on building an extensible development platform, runtimes and application frameworks for building, deploying and managing software across the entire software lifecycle. Many people know us, and hopefully love us, as a Java IDE but Eclipse is much more than a Java IDE.”
    It’s also free, which we all like

  • Dreamweaver

    I’d be remiss not to mention Dreamweaver. Many developers will look down upon it, but it seems there are many that actually still use it. It is very well integrated with Adobe’s other products, so if you’re working in fireworks, photoshop, illustrator, cold fusion, etc., it’s a great central hub for web development. It’s also a fully-featured WYSIWG, which means that you can go put up perfectly working website without ever having to touch a line of code. However, if you like to code, it’s also code-friendly and has become much better at supporting not only HTML, but CSS and other features in the past few versions. It’s a great place to start if you’re intimidated by web-development.

Online Editors

There’s another class of editors that has emerged that allows you to create and edit code online. These are powerful editors that do many things that standalone editors would do. In addition, many of these allow you to see multiple files at once (e.g., HTML, CSS, & Javascript).

 Posted by at 1:10 pm

  One Response to “IDEs”

  1. I found a really neet class/student development environment at You can create and save your work through FTP to your own server, or even dropbox. Has code and design views.

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