What is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)?
An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software application that helps the developer in developing, debugging, testing and managing files while creating an application. An IDE consists of
1) Source code editor,
2) A complier and/or interpreter,
3) Debugger, and
4) Tools to build the executable
An integrated development environment allows the developer to concentrate more on the functionality of the application that is being developed rather than concentrating on the core code. Modern day Integrated Development Environments assist the developer in developing applications by allowing him to drag and drop objects on the form or the canvas of the application that he is developing. This allows him to write lesser lines of code and increase the visual appeal of the application. This also greatly reduces the time taken by the developer to create an application. The developer can then link those objects or attach events to them or add functions. IDEs allow more than one developer to work and modify the same application simultaneously(thus the development time and the testing time is greatly reduced). By providing APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), the IDEs let the developer to add just a few lines of code and significantly modify the entire program. IDEs like Eclipse and Netbeans offer support for various languages like C, C++, JAVA, PHP, PERL, Python, Ruby, Ada, etc.
With the rise of internet and networking and its ever growing popularity, IDEs have started offering support for networking, databases and web design and development features. Dreamweaver and Expression Web are the top two IDEs that are used for designing and developing webpages. However these IDEs cost a lot. IDEs like Eclipse and Netbeans are free (Links are provided at the end of this article).
Image Credit: Wikipedia