18 Rock Solid Reasons Why You Should Use an IDE

I've been working with an IDE since a couple of years for building my applications. None of my applications were built using Notepad or a similar text editor. There are a quite reasonable amount of reasons which I would like to share why you should use an IDE.

First of all an IDE is an Integrated Development Environment, where you not only write code, but also compile, execute them. It is the only thing you need to complete building an application at the core level, regardless of the testing. The two great IDEs I personally use and of course, most programmers do are NetBeans and Eclipse.

Which one do you use and why?

I use NetBeans to develop desktop applications. I find it easy to create efficient GUI applications in NetBeans because of its simple drag and drop GUI editor which makes my life easy. It doesn't however mean that NetBeans isn't great for building web applications, I haven't built them till date and I don't know how it tastes in it.

I use Eclipse (I changed to Kepler from Indigo recently) to develop web applications. Eclipse is the most popular IDE especially for Java, and there is no doubt in that. Its wide range of plugins often push it to the top of the table.

I first encountered eclipse when researching about Google AppEngine. The tutorials on how to deploy an app to AppEngine frightened me because I have no idea about GIT, pushes and pulls. I thought it would be better if I could do it simply, so did I encounter the Google AppEngine plugin for eclipse.

That's it, with that I've deployed my tiny-apps iGo4iT Search, Google Time and OldSATQ using this eclipse plugin.

Both of the IDEs no doubt are a typical programmer's favorites. But what differentiates them is the environment and the project needs. For programming job seekers, most companies do require to learn at least one IDE.

After a long chat about Eclipse and NetBeans, we need to move forward into the reasons why you are here the ROCK SOLID reasons that you're eagerly waiting for..
  1. Detect compile time errors while writing like semicolon, braces, variable and method declarations etc.
  2. Knowing unknown methods, classes and interfaces. You just need to type a package name followed by a dot (.) and then see the auto complete magic which lists all the sub-packages and classes in it.
  3. Colorful code makes it easy to debug. Who doesn't like colors? When symbols are of one color, keywords are another color, then we can easily detect where a brace is opened, and where it should be closed etc.
  4. IDE notifies if a specific part of code can degrade performance.
  5. Coding convention, smarter way to code: IDE automatically suggests shorter versions of statements we've written.For example, if you write multiple catch blocks, it suggests to replace it with multi-catch specification.
  6. Using external libraries is simple: They're just done in a single click. You don't need to modify classpath settings in your OS. Just clicking on Add Jar and pointing to the library, does it all.
  7. Search for source code: You can search those libraries in the project and see their source code just by typing the classname and hitting enter. In NetBeans, you have it in the top-right corner.
  8. Performance tests can be done in the IDE.
  9. Navigate to errors easily: When there occurs an error or exception in the program, you can navigate to that statement by clicking on the corresponding link in the compile log.
  10. Build GUIs with ease: GUI builders in IDEs need not require the programmer to have knowledge about layouts, the front-end desigining is done by simple drag and drop as said earlier.
  11. Basic code is automatically written: The IDE writes some basic code for you automatically, for example when you put a button on the GUI builder and selected to add an ActionListener for it, then IDE writes an empty handler (actionPerformed) instantly.
  12. Diffing Files allows you to see differences that you've made to the program, its previous versions and other programs as well. This ignites an idea of what went wrong.
  13. Fix imports: Import statements are automatically fixed with a single shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+I in NetBeans) by adding essential ones and removing the unnecessary.
  14. Tab based browsing allows you to move from one program to other easily.
  15. JavaDoc in auto-complete will give you an idea of what you are going to use in the program.
  16. Plugins to deploy applications: You can deploy applications like publishing them to the cloud or wrapping into an exe file etc with simple plugins.
  17. Compiling and executing without command prompt, with simple shortcuts.
  18. Database connections and configurations can be done in the IDE itself without the need of modifying paths in the Environment variables in OS.
Starter programmers need not find any use in the IDEs, but for application development you must learn them and there is no way, you SHOULD use them.

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