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I want my IDE

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.

Programmers using development tools on the Macintosh or Microsoft Windows are used to working with an Integrated Development Environment (or IDE) such as Metrowerks' CodeWarrior or Microsoft's Visual C++.

IDEs bundle a tightly integrated set of tools, typically an editor, compiler, debugger, forms builder and class browser. These are usually associated with a graphical environment, but there are text-based IDEs, such as the DOS versions of Turbo Pascal and Borland C++.

Programmers used to IDEs are often shocked when they make the transition to Linux and discover that most developers use a text editor, a command line debugger and a command line compiler.

There is a wide range of development environments available for Unix/Linux. Some of the more well known free IDEs are:

Here is a screenshot of Code Crusader, showing the text editor and class browser (with a search window), and a screenshot of RHIDE showing an editor window and a collection of debugging windows (Turbo C users will feel at home!).

The key criticism of IDEs is that the developer is often forced to use the specific vendor's tools. The ideal IDE allows developers to use other tools (such as EMACS or GDB) with the IDE.

It should be noted that many editors offer tight integration to other development tools, making an IDE unnecessary. For example, EMACS offers a class browser and interfaces to compilers and debuggers.

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