The 12 best IDEs for programming

The 12 best IDEs for programming

The 12 best IDEs for programming
Image: Chaosamran_Studio/Adobe Stock

Before now, software developers battled with text editors and command-line tools that offered little or nothing in the automation, debugging and speedy execution of codes. However, the software development landscape is rapidly changing and so are the programming tools used. To accommodate the evolution in software development, software engineers came up with more sophisticated tools known as Integrated Development Environments.

To keep up with the fast pace of emerging technologies, there has been an increasing demand for the best IDEs among software development companies. We will explore the 12 best IDEs offering valuable solutions to programmers in 2022.

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What is an IDE?

IDEs are software development tools developers use to simplify their programming and design experience. IDEs come with an integrated user interface that combines everything a developer needs to write codes conveniently. The best IDEs are built with features that allow developers to write and edit code with a code editor, debug code with a debugger, compile code with a code compiler and automate some software development tasks.

SEE: Hiring kit: Back-end Developer (TechRepublic Premium)

Of course, that is not all. The best IDEs come with class browsers to examine and reference properties, object browsers to investigate objects and class hierarchy diagrams to see object-oriented programming code.

Furthermore, IDEs are designed to increase software developer productivity by incorporating close-knit components that create a perfect playground where they can write, test and do whatever they want with their code.

The importance of IDEs in software programming

Modern IDEs provide a lot of support to software developers, which was not available in the old text editors. The best IDEs around do not need to be manually configured and integrated as part of the setup process. Instead, they enable developers to begin developing new apps on the go.

Additionally, since every feature a programmer needs is available in the same development environment, developers don’t have to spend hours learning how to use each separately. This can be extremely helpful when bringing on new developers, who may rely on an IDE to familiarize themselves with a team’s standard tools and procedures. In reality, most IDE capabilities, such as intelligent code completion and automatic code creation, are designed to save time by eliminating the need to write out entire character sequences.

Other standard IDE features are designed to facilitate workflow organization and problem-solving for developers. IDEs parse code as it is written, allowing for real-time detection of human-related errors. As such, developers can carry out operations without switching between programs because the needed utilities are represented by a single graphical user interface.

Most IDEs also have a syntax highlighting feature, which uses visual clues to distinguish between grammar in the text editor. Class and object browsers, as well as class hierarchy diagrams for certain languages, are additional features that some IDEs offer. All these features help the modern programmer to turn out software development projects fast.

It’s important to point out that for a programming project requiring software-specific features, it’s possible to manually integrate these features or utilities with Vim or Emacs. The benefit here is that software developers can easily have their custom-made IDEs. However, for enterprise uses, the above process might take time and impact standardization negatively. Most enterprises today encourage their development teams to go for pre-configured IDEs that suit their job demands.

Other benefits of IDEs

  • Serves as a centralized environment for the needs of most software developers, such as version control systems, Platform-as-a-Service and debugging tools
  • Improves workflow due to their fast code completion capabilities
  • Automates error-checking on the fly to ensure top-quality code
  • Have refactoring capabilities that allow programmers to make comprehensive and renaming changes
  • Ensure a seamless development cycle
  • Facilitate developer efficiency and satisfaction

Standard features of an IDE

Text editor

Almost all IDEs will offer a text editor made specifically for writing and modifying source code. While some tools may allow users to drag and drop front-end elements visually, the majority offers a straightforward user interface that emphasizes language-specific syntax.


Debugging tools help developers identify and correct source code mistakes. Before the application is published, programmers and software engineers can test the various code parts and find issues.


The compiler feature in IDE assists programmers in translating programming languages into machine-readable languages such as binary code. The compiler also helps to ensure the accuracy of these machine languages by analyzing and optimizing them.

Code completion

This feature helps developers to intelligently and automatically complete common code components. This process helps developers to save time and reduces bugs that come from typos.

Programming language support

Although some IDEs are pre-configured to support one programming language, others offer multi-programming language support. Most times, in choosing an IDE, users have to figure out which programming languages they will be coding in and pick an IDE accordingly.

Integrations and plugins

Integration capability is one feature that makes an IDE stand out. IDEs support the integration of other development tools through plugins to enhance productivity.

Classifications of IDEs

IDEs come in different types and according to the programming languages they support. While some support one language, others can support more than one.

Multi-language IDE

Multi-language IDEs are IDE types that support multiple programming languages. This IDE type is best suited for beginner programmers still at the exploration stage. An example of this type of IDE is the Visual Studio IDE. It’s popular for its incredible supporting features. For example, users can easily code in a new programming language by adding the language plugin.

Mobile development IDE

As the market for mobile app development grows, numerous programming tools are becoming available to help software developers build efficient mobile apps. Mobile development IDEs for the Android and iOS platforms include Android Studio and Xcode.

Web/cloud-based IDE

If an enterprise supports a cloud-based development environment, it may need to adopt a cloud-based IDE. One of the advantages of using this type of IDE is that it can run heavy projects without occupying any computational resources in a local system. Again, this type of IDE is always platform-independent, making it easy to connect to many cloud development providers.

Specific-language IDE

This IDE type is a typical opposite of the multiple-language IDE. They are specifically built to support developers who work on only one programming language. Some of these IDEs include Jcreator for Java programming language, Idle for Python and CodeLite for C++.

Best IDEs for programmers

Below are the best IDEs available to programmers in 2022.

Visual Studio

Microsoft Visual Studios

The Visual Studio IDE is a Microsoft-powered integrated development interface developed to help software developers with web developments. The IDE uses artificial intelligence features to learn from the edit programmer’s make to their codes, making it easy for it to complete lines of code automatically.

One of the top features many developers have come to like about Visual Studio is that it aids collaborative development between teams in live development. This feature is very crucial, especially during the debugging process. The IDE also allows users to share servers, comments and terminals.

Furthermore, Visual Studio has the capability to support mobile app, web and game development. It also supports Python language, Node.js, ASP.NET and Azure. With Visual Studio, developers can easily create a development environment in the cloud.

SEE: Hiring kit: Python developer (TechRepublic Premium)

With its multi-language support, Visual Studio has features that integrate flawlessly with Django and Flask frameworks. It can be used as an IDE for Python on the Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems.

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ Idea has been around for years and has served as one of the best IDEs for Java programming. The IntelliJ Idea UI is designed in a sleek way that makes coding appealing to many Java developers.

With this IDE, code can get indexed, providing relevant suggestions to help complete code lines. It also takes this suggestive coding further by automating several tasks that may be repetitive.

Apart from supporting web, enterprise, and mobile Java programming, it is also a good option for JavaScript, SQL and JPQL programming



XCode might be the best IDE tool for Apple product developers. The tool supports iOS app development with its numerous iOS tools. The IDE supports programming languages such as Swift, C++ and Object-C.

With XCode, developers can easily manage their software development workflow with quality code suggestions from the interface.

Android Studio

Android Studio

The Android Studio is one of the best IDEs for Android app development. This IDE supports Kotlin and Java programming languages.

Some important features users can get from the Android Studio are push alerts, camera integrations and other mobile technology features. Developers can also create variants and different APKs with the help of this flexible IDE, which also offers extended template support for Google Services.

AWS Cloud9 IDE

AWS Cloud9

This IDE is packed with a terminal, a debugger, code editor and supports popular programming languages such as Python and PHP.

With Cloud9 IDE, software developers can work on their projects from almost anywhere in the globe as long as they have a computer that is connected to the internet, because it is cloud-based. Developers may create serverless applications using Cloud9 and easily collaborate with different teams in different development environments.



Eclipse is one of the most popular IDEs. It’s a cross-platform tool with a powerful user interface that supports drag and drop. The IDE is also packed with some important features such as static analysis tools, debugging and profiling capabilities. Eclipse is enterprise development-friendly and it allows developers to work on scalable and open-source software development easily.

Although Eclipse is best associated with Java, it also supports multiple programming languages. Moreso, users can add their preferred plugins to the IDE to support software development projects.

Zend Studio

Zend Studio

Zend Studio is a leading PHP IDE designed to support PHP developers in both web and mobile development. The tool features advanced debugging capabilities and a code editor with a large community to support its users.

There is every possibility that PHP developers will cling to the Zend IDE for a long time as it has consistently proven to be a reliable option for server-side programming. Furthermore, programmers can take advantage of Zend Studio’s plugin integrations to maximize PHP applications’ deployment on any server.



PhpStorm is another choice to consider if users use PHP for web development. Although it focuses on the PHP programming language, front-end languages like HTML 5, CSS, Sass, JavaScript and others are also supported.

It also supports popular website-building tools, including WordPress, Drupal and Laravek. It offers simple navigation, code completion, testing, debugging and refactoring capabilities.

PhpStorm comes with built-in developer tools that help users perform routine tasks directly from the IDE. Some of these built-in tools serve as a version control system, remote deployment, composer and Docker.

Arduino IDE


Arduino is another top open source, cross-platform IDE that helps developers to write clean code with an option to share with other developers.

This IDE offers both online and local code editing environments. Developers who want to carry out sophisticated tasks without putting a strain on computer resources love it for how simple it is to utilize. The Arduino IDE includes current support for the newest Arduino boards.

Additionally, it offers a more contemporary editor and a dynamic UI with autocompletion, code navigation and even live debugger features.



You can’t have a list of the best IDE for web development without including NetBeans. It’s among one of the most popular options for the best IDE because it’s a no-nonsense software for Java, JavaScript, PHP, HTML 5, CSS and more.

It also helps users create bug-free codes by highlighting code syntactically and semantically. It also has a lot of powerful refactoring tools while being open source.



Although RubyMine primarily supports the Ruby, it also works well with JavaScript, CSS, Less, Sass and other programming languages. The IDE has some crucial automation features such as code completion, syntax and error-highlighting, an advanced search option for any class and symbol.



The WebStorm IDE is excellent for programming in JavaScript. The IDE features live error detection, code autocompletion, a debugger and unit testing. It also comes with some great integrations to aid web development. Some of these integrations are GitHub, Git and Mercurial.

Factors to consider when picking an IDE

If one find themself in the software development space, there are many factors to consider before deciding on the IDE to adopt. Check out the factors below.

Programming language support

An IDE should be able to support the programming language used in users’ software development projects.

Customizable text editors

Some IDEs offer the ability to edit the Graphical User Interface. Check if the preferred IDE has this feature, as it can increase productivity.

Unit testing

Check if the IDE can add mock objects to some sections of the code. This feature helps test code straight away without completing all the sections.

Source code library

Users may also wish to consider if the IDE has resources such as scripts and source code.

Error diagnostics and reports

Sometimes, as a new programmer, it’s good to have an IDE that can automatically detect errors in code. Have this factor in mind if users will need this feature.

Code completion

Some IDEs are designed to intelligently complete lines of code, especially when it comes to tag closing. If developers want to save some coding time from tag closing, check for IDEs that offer this option.

Integrations and plugins

Do not forget to check the integration features before making a choice.

Code search

Some IDEs offer the code search option to help search for elements quickly in code. Look for IDEs that support this productivity feature.

Hierarchy diagrams

If users often work on larger projects with numerous files and scripts that all interact in a certain way, look for IDEs that can organize and present these scripts in a hierarchy. This feature can help programmers observe the order of file execution and the relationships between different files and scripts by displaying a hierarchy diagram.

Model-driven development

Some IDEs help turn models into code. If users love creating models for the IDE, consider this factor before choosing an IDE.

No matter what language you write or want to learn, TechRepublic Academy has a number of different programming courses to help you level-up your skills. Start with these: