Which IDE Is Right for You?

July 23, 2016 by Ebony Calloway

If you're not sure which IDE to choose, here's a good place to start.

Not sure which IDE is right for you? Here's a quick introduction to five programs to help you choose based on your skill level, project type, and the language you're using.

When it comes to picking an Integrated Development Environment, or IDE, there are many factors to consider. For instance, some IDEs are really good for quick scripting work but others are better for long projects.

Also, the type of IDE you choose can depend on what skill level you are at and how comfortable you are with the language. Below is a list of some of the most common IDEs, what languages they support, and some of their strengths.

This list does not include every IDE, but covers different types of IDEs and a large variety of programming languages that can be used with them.





Languages: C, C++, Fortran

Skill Level: Great for beginner programmers. 

Code Blocks has highlighted keywords so you know if you are typing built-in functions correctly. The interface has smart indent, code folding, and customizable highlighting to keep the code neat and easy to read.

The debugger has conditional breakpoints, data breakpoints, and code breakpoints for easy examination of the code during runtime. Multiple compilers are supported, such as GCC and MSVC++.

Code::Blocks runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows and is Open Source.





Languages: C, C++, Python, Perl, PHP, Java, Ruby, etc.

Skill Level: Eclipse has a lot of features for both advanced and beginner programmers.

This IDE can be used with many languages because of the extensive library of plugins. It also has a lot of helpful code suggestions/completions to speed up projects. The workspaces and hierarchy of folders help to keep different projects and parts of code organized and easy to find.

Eclipse can be used cross-platform, but a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) as well as Java Development Kit (JDK) are required to compile and run Java code.


Visual Studio



Languages: Ajax, Javascript, Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++, etc.

Skill Level: Most skill levels.

Visual Studio has been around for a very long time and there are a lot of features that have been added that really make it a great IDE.

It uses Xamarin which has cross-platform development across Android, IOS, and Windows apps. Utilizing the shared project option makes code available across different console applications. Also, the code editor helps find unnecessary or redundant code so that you can remove something that is unneeded.


IntelliJ IDEA



Language HTML, Javascript, Node JS, etc.

Skill Level: This is the most developer-centered IDE on this list.

The IntelliJ IDE provides a lot of tools to help complete code, find errors in code, and make changes. There is version control to keep edits of your code organized, an inline debugger to show changes in variable values, quick fixes which highlight potential mistakes and offer solutions, and refactorings to quickly change the names of classes, methods, variables, or anything else.





Language: HTML,C, C#, C++, Visual Basic, Java, SQL, Fortran, etc.

Skill Level: Great for beginners.

ConTEXT is an easy-to-use text editor. It has syntax highlighting for multiple languages including PHP, XML, Javascript, Perl, the above list of languages, and many more.

Auto indent and custom code highlighting options keeps code easy to read based on your personal preferences. ConTEXT's file compare capabilities are great for looking at differences in pieces of code. Its code templates help get a beginner coder started off on the right track.



IDEs are very useful tools whether you are an experienced coder or just starting out and want to get your feet wet. The above list is by no means comprehensive but is a good starting place.

It’s important to remember that, depending on the application, one IDE may outperform another. It’s a good idea to try out a few different IDEs and see what works best for you.

  • Israel_Garibay July 23, 2016

    no mention of Apples Xcode IDE?

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  • G
    gnagy July 26, 2016

    “Real men” write their own IDE.
    And I’m not just saying it because my friend and I wrote one (after seeing how crappy emacs and vi were back then).

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    • M
      mstevens August 05, 2016
      Hmmm... that's funny. Seems that both emacs and vi are still going strong.
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    • D
      drhowarddrfine August 05, 2016
      emacs and vi(m) are crappy? I'll inform the rest of the world. It's obvious this is the first time they've heard that.
      Like. Reply
    • doabowl August 05, 2016
      What about Atom? incredibly extensible, like Programmer's Notepad for Win. 5min setup of clean / build / debug hot keys; use it as your "non-IDE IDE". want more? drop in Platformio and you get the IDE. too difficult to customize? remove Platformio and you're back to editing and testing using hot keys. functionality backup! my kinda Linux product.
      Like. Reply
  • SalceyForest August 01, 2016

    I’d say the skill level for Eclipse ranges from advanced to Alan Turing myself.

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  • sp5xok August 01, 2016

    I recommend Qt IDE., Not only for Qt projects.

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  • V
    Vicne August 05, 2016

    Err, IntelliJ is not for “HTML, Javascript, Node JS, etc.”.
    It’s primarily a Java IDE (the best one IMHO), which as they say does “actually much more than Java”. They have alternate products (built on the same basis) target at other languages (PyCharm, C-Lion, ...)...
    BTW you used the old logo - - 😊

    Like. Reply
  • Non-Sequitur August 05, 2016

    If you’re into programming the micros, the BagleBone Cloud 9 environment is quite handy. May not have all the bells and whistles, but if it were any easier to use it would right the code for you.

    Like. Reply
    • Non-Sequitur August 05, 2016
      ... write... not right ... duh
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      • O
        Old Frank August 05, 2016
        Odd that in the age of the computer, when you'd expect everything to be exact, with "dotted Is and crossed Ts", there are so many errors in use of language.
        Like. Reply
  • O
    Old Frank August 05, 2016

    What about Assembler? Is it becoming extinct?

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  • T
    T3STY November 15, 2016

    You should add Visual Studio Code to the list. Supports almost every scripting/programming language (as the primary purpose is an advanced text editor), has an integrated debugger for Node.js (requires Node.js to be installed), but supports debugging extensions that may work with (potentially) any language. Obviously supports syntax highlightning, auto completion and all the basic stuff people expect. Has a beautiful UI too, if this matters 😊

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  • Jakub Standarski June 22, 2019

    My experience with different IDEs:
    - Xcode: great tool at the beginning (of course if you are Mac’s user)..
    - Eclipse: I personally think that at the moment it is the most flexible IDE in embedded world, all of the companies such as: NXP, STMicroeletronics, Texas Instruments and others have their IDE based on eclipse so it is natural choice to use it
    - Visual Studio Code: hmmm… I just love it.. it is good for everything, I would like to have fully-integrated tools from embedded companies. live would be so much easier…

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