integrated development environment (IDE)

(The abbreviation IDE also stands for Integrated Drive Electronics.)

An integrated development environment (IDE) is a software suite that consolidates the basic tools developers need to write and test software. Typically, an IDE contains a code editor, a compiler or interpreter and a debugger that the developer accesses through a single graphical user interface (GUI). An IDE may be a standalone application, or it may be included as part of one or more existing and compatible applications.

An IDE's toolbar looks much like a word processor's toolbar. The tools in the toolbar facilitate color-coding, source-code formatting, error diagnostics, and reporting and intelligent code completion. The interface allows the developer to compile and execute code incrementally and manage changes to source code in a uniform manner. IDEs are typically designed to integrate with third-party version control libraries, like GitHub or Apache Subversion.

Increasingly, IDEs are being offered through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model. The benefits of cloud IDEs include accessibility to software development tools from anywhere in the world, from any compatible device; minimal to nonexistent download and installation; and ease of collaboration among geographically dispersed developers. Popular IDE tools include NetBeans, Eclipse, IntelliJ , Visual Studio and Windows PowerShell.

This was last updated in June 2016

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