To write a program, a programmer needs little more than a text editor and a good idea. However, to be productive, he or she must be able to check the syntax of the code, and, in some cases, compile the code. To be more efficient at programming, additional tools, such as an integrated development environment (IDE) or computer-aided software-engineering (CASE) tools, can be used.
Integrated Development Environment
For most programming languages, an IDE can be used. An IDE provides a variety of tools for the programmer, and usually includes:
- an editor for writing the program that will color-code or highlight keywords from the programming language;
- a help system that gives detailed documentation regarding the programming language;
- a compiler/interpreter, which will allow the programmer to run the program;
- a debugging tool, which will provide the programmer details about the execution of the program in order to resolve problems in the code; and
- a check-in/check-out mechanism, which allows for a team of programmers to work together on a project and not write over each other’s code changes.
Probably the most popular IDE software package right now is Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Visual Studio is the IDE for all of Microsoft’s programming languages, including Visual Basic, Visual C++, and Visual C#.
While an IDE provides several tools to assist the programmer in writing the program, the code still must be written. Computer-aided software-engineering (CASE) tools allow a designer to develop software with little or no programming. Instead, the CASE tool writes the code for the designer. CASE tools come in many varieties, but their goal is to generate quality code based on input created by the designer.