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You must be wondering.. should you invest in an IDE, Are they necessary? Over the past few years, there has been a steady rise in the popularity of IDEs and many developers have started to use these tools to increase your coding speed. Some developers think that by investing in an IDE they are investing their time and money into something that will make them more productive. However, others believe that IDEs are just glorified text editors and they should not be prioritized over more lightweight editors with less overhead. So, what is true?
The purpose of this post is to present both sides of the argument and discuss what questions should be asked before making a decision on whether or not to invest in an IDE.
Should you invest in an IDE?
To answer this, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of having an IDE.
Disadvantages of Using IDEs 👎
1) IDEs break the (idea of ) a text editor that is fast and lightweight. 🪶
Instead of typing letters into a text file and saving it as you go along, you have to open an IDE for every file you are editing. You have to waste time looking for what tab/window is necessary to handle which file type: code files in one tab/window, HTML documents in another one etc.
2) IDEs do not provide a level of abstraction from the code that is worth the overhead. ⏳
Advantages of using IDEs 👍
1) Code completion ✍️
Most IDEs provide autocompletion for source code which speeds up the process of writing code. It makes it possible to know what type of functions/classes/variables are available in the language you are using.
2) Debugging 🐛
IDEs can be used to debug code. You can run tests and debug functions in breakpoints and see the result immediately instead of having to stop your editor, go back to the running application and then resume debugging where you left off or wait for the entire program to finish when something goes wrong.
3) Source control monitoring 🪄
Source control monitoring tools provide an overview of which files have been modified since last commit or since last backup (with git). The same functionality is generally available in IDEs.
4) Less CPU cycles 🙌🏾
Compiling code manually is a tiresome and time-consuming process. In most cases you don’t need to compile the code after each change unless you are dealing with huge projects. IDEs provide the option to automate this process and only compile the source code when necessary. This saves a lot of time and requires less effort, which results in fewer CPU cycles used by your computer.
I’d say we have to weigh the pros and cons for both sides before making a final choice. I think it is important to remember that developers are human beings, not machines. We make decisions based on our personal preferences and desires. That is the reason why so many people love using IDEs. Including myself! 😇
IDEs come with their own strengths and weaknesses but if you go into this without any bias, I think it should be obvious which tool will be best for your development needs at any given time.
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