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Best IDEs

Joseph Maurer
~ Game Development Software Engineer ~ MBA Aspiring @ University of Nevada, Reno ~ Oregon Tech Alum
・2 min read

There are tools to every trade and writing code is no different. I’ve posted in the past about the best code diff tools, but that’s only a small part of the equation. Arguably the biggest part of the job is which IDE are you using. IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment and it handles a lot more than you would think. Apart from the basics of file management, a good IDE should prioritize helping you write good code fast. Any basic text editor can help you write text, but an IDE is more about the bundle of tools that accompanies it.

Old School: VIM

What is beloved and also hated by the same amount of people? Vim. Known for it’s complicated command interface to know when typing versus running commands, Vim provides extremely powerful text editing capabilities for those who know how to use it.

GOAT: Visual Studio

This is the elephant in the room. Visual Studio has dominated so much the code editing space for so long that it’s hard to ignore. And with the introduction of Visual Studio Code, the offering are stronger than ever now. It’s hard to even put all of the offers that visual studio has into words, but you miss the feature set when you go to other editors. In particular, I think that visual studio has the best debugger of any IDE out there. It’s just super intuitive and allows you to fly around the stack trace super easily.

Underdog: Atom

Atom is a hackable text editor for the 21st century, built on Electron. From the GitHub team (which is owned by Microsoft now right?) comes an extremely versituatly and lightweight IDE. Before Visual studio code came out, Atom was my go to option for a lightweight editor that was also cross platform. It allows extensions that allow you to customize almost everything about your experience. It also has an extremely deep community around it so it’s known for being reliable and friendly. If you’ve never used it before, I highly recommend checking it out!

All in all, which is your favorite IDE? Are there any IDEs that you think should be on this list?

Discussion (11)

pedrocarrasco profile image
Pedro A. Carrasco Ponce


dbc2201 profile image

JetBrains has the best in class IDEs for all programming needs. Give it a try.

mwrpwr profile image
Joseph Maurer Author

I’ll give it a shot! I use their VS extension and like it a lot

csorbamatyi profile image
Matyi Csorba

(caution: very opninionated comment) All of them is a good editor in my opinion, but none of them are IDE's. My favorite is Phpstorm (Webstorm with Php support). Sure it could be slow at first (when its indexing the files), but after that it has everything what i need, and didn't need to manage any plugins (Sure you can manage them easily in VsCode). Oh and the Angular support is awesome.
Ofcourse sometimes when i have to edit only 1 file, I use vscode.

mwrpwr profile image
Joseph Maurer Author

Thanks for your opinion Matyi. I use VS professional with JetBrains Resharper and love that combo.
I agree that VS code is great for smaller projects but really falls off once the project reaches a certain size.

610yesnolovely profile image
Harvey Thompson • Edited


  • Emacs is actually a full programmable LISP programming environment, so you can change it to exactly how you want it. However see Spacemacs and Doom Emacs for easy starter kits that make everything work out of the box.
  • Proper Intellisense level auto-completion, refactoring for pretty much any language (thanks to the LSP protocol that powers Visual Studio Code).
  • Debugger support for nearly as many (thanks to the DAP protocol).
  • Edit and colourize pretty much every file format under the sun.
  • Full VI emulation if you like that (Spacemacs and Doom default to using this)
  • Supports pretty much every SCM.
  • Killer apps like magit (for git), and org (it's a todo list, agenda, calender, document markdown thingymajig)
  • Run a full colour terminal emulator.
  • Hands On Keyboard, Not On Mouse!
  • Browse the web.
  • Read e-mail and usenet.
  • View images, PDF, documents, markdown, HTML, XML.
  • Even make it your window manager on Linux.
  • Runs on every platform under the sun.
  • And much much more with packages.
  • Is totally free.

I've been using Emacs for work, play and code development for 30 years. I have barely used any other IDE.

mwrpwr profile image
Joseph Maurer Author

Thanks for the solid points Harvey! Tbh I’ve only used command line Emacs back in college and found VI or Nano easier to use. I just downloaded the GUI so I’ll have to play around with it 👍🏻 Apparently you can even play Tetris in Emacs 😂

mehdico profile image
Mehdi Mousavi

All three options are text editors, not IDE's.

mwrpwr profile image
Joseph Maurer Author

All three can do code completion, debugging, and syntax highlighting. VS also includes a compiler although I don’t think that’s necessary to be considered an IDE.

mehdico profile image
Mehdi Mousavi

yes, they can do almost everything. but it's not fair to compare them with real IDE's! at least they are not the BEST options! this is why for example Microsoft still working on a real IDE named Visual Studio (alongside visual studio code)

toelt profile image
Toel • Edited

JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate hands down. Java, Go, JS ... great database development tool as well.