One of the most significant choices a developer makes is the integrated development environment (IDE) they use.  Nevertheless, there are new options that become available each year and niche solutions that may improve productivity.  It never hurts to review what is out there and avoid getting in a rut.

The odds are that this will look familiar, even if you have not used it.  Eclipse is the basis for a large number of IDE’s due to its flexibility and expandability.  Few (if any) languages are not supported by at least one plugin on Eclipse.  This ability to expand it from the core along with a healthy set of standard tools like version control, syntax highlighting, project-based search, integrated debugging, and more combine to make a solid IDE.  It is free in many forms and more than worth the time to see if it may be the best solution for your needs.

Visual Studio
This should be your default IDE if you live on Windows and develop for those systems.  Although Visual Studio has grown to become a solid challenger to Eclipse in many areas, it still does not have the breadth of language support.  That being said, it is a better solution (IMHO) for any C# or other .NET related development.  It provides some tools and debugging features that make it perfect for a solo developer of teams of any size.

Android Studio

This IDE is focused on, you guessed it, developing for Android devices.  It is Eclipse-based and the best alternative (IMHO) for building applications on those target platforms.  It does allow for plugins and can be used for more as well.


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This application is effectively the default IDE for building iOS applications on mobile or Mac desktops.  It is not as extensible as the other IDEs on this list.  However, it is packed with features and makes developing native Apple applications easier than any other option out there.  XCode has at times been a little behind the others in modern features but has grown in the last few years to include everything you need for your mobile or desktop development in the Apple world.


Amazon bought this IDE/Service after realizing it was a perfect fit for their Cloud services.  Cloud9 is an IDE that includes connections to a virtual machine for your development and deployment.  That consists of a browser-based IDE so you can remotely do all of your code writing.  Better yet, it provides ways to quickly create a development environment for a substantial number of languages and environments.

Aptana Studio

Although this is yet another Eclipse-based tool, it includes a cross-platform mobile development framework that is one of the best.  The primary coding is javascript-based and makes it easy to create applications targeted for Android, Apple, or other platforms.  It is also a robust IDE without additional extensions for web application development if you primarily use HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and maybe PHP.

IntelliJ Idea (JetBrains)

The JetBrains family of IDEs cover a surprising number of environments.  Their tools are all high quality, easy to love, and one of (if not THE) the best solutions for their niche products.  For example, many Java developers prefer IntelliJ for those coding needs over all other Java IDEs.  This is the only solution on this list that often requires a paid license.  However, I think it is money well spent if you try one of their applications and like it.


This tool has been moved to an Apache project and is a little behind the other options we have covered.  However, they have a new version that is more what one expects in a modern tool.  It is not quite as popular as some of the other options.  Thus, the user community has not contributed to the level you see in an Eclipse or Visual Studio.


This solution is similar to Cloud9 except it uses Docker containers for your development environment.  That means you can quickly convert development to production deployments as is typical for a Docker solution.  It also uses Eclipse CHE which is a highly impressive browser-based IDE.  If you are looking for a remote development solution, then you must check this one out.


Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences.In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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