What is an Integrated Development Environment?

Software development is a process that requires meticulous attention to detail in the areas of coding, testing, and integration. Each component of a software product is typically dependent on many other devices including databases, network protocols, and services. An integrated development environment (IDE) is a software tool that provides the developer with a simulation area that is comparable to a production environment. This includes simulated database, messaging systems and other software modules.

A typical production environment will contain several hardware servers, software products, and network devices. This includes database servers, application servers, network routers and switches. These servers require extensive configuration and setup before they can function properly. An integrated development environment simulates this configuration on a computer desktop or laptop.

Having a simulation area in a development environment improves overall productivity. Developers need to test code in an area that can be modified quickly. An integrated development environment is an environment that behaves comparably to a production environment, but runs on the developer’s computer. This provides a sandbox for a developer to play in, allowing changes to be implemented quickly because he has control over the IDE.

There are multiple IDEs specifically designed for Java and Microsoft.Net development. These products have been available for several decades. Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio are two large IDEs that are widely used within the development community. Both of these products give the developer all the tools he needs to build, test and simulate software applications.

Eclipse is an open source integrated development environment designed to support large Java applications. This IDE provides all of the tools necessary to complete coding, testing, and deployment of Java applications. Because eclipse is made freely available to the public it is easy to find training material on how to use the product.

Most integrated development environment support the areas for designing, writing, and debugging software code. These IDEs provide a method of compiling software to make it ready for deployment. This full-feature environment makes troubleshooting software code easier.
Debugging software code is a difficult process that requires hours of inspection and processing time. An integrated development environment typically provides special tools that allow code to be edited in modular manner. This breaks code into manageable components and provides a method for developers to quickly determine code failures.

An integrated development environment also provides a robust simulation area for database and file storage devices. This includes connectivity simulations to external file servers. The IDE is critical tool for increasing productivity because issues can be discovered and resolved during development.