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IDE in Software: Definition & Examples

Instructor: David Gloag
In this lesson, we'll take a look at a fundamental concept in software development, the IDE. Further, we'll focus on what it is, what it's used for, and some examples.

Software is Everywhere

Software is a large component of our lives these days. If you don't agree, just look around you. Software is in the computer that sits on our desks at work. It's in our televisions and stereos. It's even in the mobile devices we carry around like phones and tablets. These items have computers in them, and computers need software to run. In a technology-based world such as ours, it's inescapable. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we need some means to create this software. An IDE is a means to do this that puts everything we need at our fingertips.

What is an IDE?

IDE is an acronym that stands for Integrated Development Environment. It is a software application that combines all of the features and tools needed by a software developer. It is graphical in nature, meaning that it uses windows and controls like buttons to display information and accept input from the user. For example, tools can include:

  • A Text Editor - This is a window for the input, arrangement, and commenting of programming language code.
  • A Project Editor - This is a window that lists all of the files that make up the software project.
  • A Tool Bar - This is a set of buttons that represent the functions the environment can perform.
  • An Output Viewer - This is a window that displays any messages that the environment generates during the operations it undertakes.

Obviously, these are only some of the possibilities. There may be others depending on the robustness of the IDE.

What is an IDE used for?

An IDE is used to create software applications, drivers, and utilities. These are the capabilities available to you when you turn your computer on. For example, consider applications like Microsoft Word or Photoshop. IDE's bring everything needed together to develop and test these entities. Some of the operations you can perform include:

  • Write Code - You have the ability to enter and modify the program code that performs the tasks needed.
  • Compile Code - Gives you the ability to translate program code into machine executable code.
  • Debug Code - This gives the ability to test executable code and ensure proper operation.
  • Monitor Resources -This gives you the ability to watch things like memory usage and hard disk space to ensure that maximums aren't exceeded.

Think of an IDE like a mechanic's toolbox or a carpenter's power tools. They are a software developer's tool-of-choice.

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