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Best IDE Software Shortlist

Here's a shortlist of the best IDEs and who or what I think they're best for:

  1. Visual Studio Code - Best free option
  2. PyCharm - Best for Python
  3. Xcode IDE - Best for Apple development
  4. Android Studio - Best for Android development
  5. NetBeans - Best Maven support
  6. WebStorm - Best for web development with JavaScript
  7. Visual Studio - Best for Windows app development
  8. Selenium IDE - Best for test automation
  9. IntelliJ IDEA - Best for Java
  10. JupyterLab - Best for data science with Python
  11. RubyMine - Best for Ruby and Ruby on Rails
  12. RStudio - Best for R

Back when I only used code editors instead of IDEs because they “did everything I needed them to,” I had to deal with annoyances like needing to remember all the code syntax, typing everything out manually, and debugging one line at a time. These days, I never work without an IDE, and it’s changed my workflow completely.

To help you find the right IDE software, I’ve evaluated several options to come up with this list that also includes each pick’s strengths and what I considered when looking around.

What Is IDE Software?

An IDE, short for integrated development environment, is a type of software that combines different tools used for programming in one place, from source code editors to debuggers. Most of them have features such as syntax highlighting and autocomplete with the option to add plugins for additional functionality.

Overviews of the 12 Best IDE Software

Here are the best IDEs available today, along with their strengths, weaknesses, and a section of the criteria I used to make the selections.

1. Visual Studio Code - Best free option

VS Code TypeScript screenshot
Working with TypeScript in Visual Studio Code. (Source)

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a free IDE from Microsoft that supports most programming languages both natively and via free extensions.

Why I Picked Visual Studio Code: I picked VS Code because of its wide support for most programming languages, which allows you to use it for most projects if you don’t need a specialized IDE. Out of the box, it comes with full support for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and TypeScript, but you can download free extensions to import more robust support for pretty much any other language out there in a few clicks.

Visual Studio Code Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked in VS Code include IntelliSense, a collection of advanced code editing tools that include completion and member lists. There are also official IntelliSense-enabled extensions for most languages available for free from the marketplace.

VS Code also has a web version that has many of the same features as desktop installation, which I found was good for editing code when I was away from my main workstation.

Integrations are pre-built for GitHub, Docker, Azure, Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces, and Microsoft Power Pages. You can also use the extension API to build your own extensions.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Completely free
  • Supports hundreds of languages
  • IntelliSense support for most popular languages


  • No native SVG viewer
  • Resource intensive

2. PyCharm - Best for Python

PyCharm IDE software suggested syntax for Python screenshot
Suggested syntax in PyCharm. (Source)

PyCharm is an IDE software from JetBrains. Its main focus is on working with Python for web development and data science.

Why I Picked PyCharm: I evaluated PyCharm with a simple web development project and found that, on top of Python, it also supports JavaScript, TypeScript, CoffeeScript, HTML, and CSS. It also supports popular Python web frameworks like Django, Flask, web2py, and Pyramid, making it easy for me to build out a full-stack project on the platform.

PyCharm Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked in PyCharm include the built-in, fully interactive read-eval-print loop (REPL) console that gives you real-time code completion and syntax checks. It also comes with Conda, which allows you to create virtual environments that make it easy to separate dependencies if you’re struggling to keep track of them.

Integrations are native for other JetBrains products like WebStorm and DataGrip, as well as pre-built for GitHub, Conda, Vagrant, and Docker.

Pricing: From $9.90/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Native support for major Python frameworks and libraries
  • Strong database management features
  • Native support for languages often paired with Python


  • Free plan is underpowered
  • Premium plan is expensive

3. Xcode - Best for Apple development

Xcode IDE software iOS app preview screenshot
Previewing an iOS app in Xcode. (Source)

Xcode is Apple’s free official IDE for developers who want to build applications for the company’s platforms, including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS.

Why I Picked Xcode: I picked Xcode because it supports Swift, Apple’s official programming language, better than any other IDE I’ve used, and it does it natively. I could edit SwiftUI code, and Xcode would recompile it in real-time to provide me with a faithful simulation of the app I was working on.

Xcode Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made developing Apple-specific products easy with Xcode include Xcode Cloud, a built-in CI/CD system that can run concurrent tests for different device types when I was working on cross-platform apps. It also handles other parts of the pipeline in one place; I was able to send off packages to QA and receive feedback without needing to leave the IDE.

Integrations are pre-built for Slack, GitHub, Apple Developer Tools, and TestFlight.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Best Swift and SwiftUI support
  • Device simulator
  • Parallel device testing


  • Resource intensive
  • Limited to Apple devices

4. Android Studio - Best for Android development

Android Studio IDE software screenshot
Mapping application navigation with Android Studio. (Source)

Android Studio is the official IDE software for Android application development, provided and managed by Google itself.

Why I Picked Android Studio: Google recommends Kotlin for Android applications, and it was immediately obvious to me that Android Studio is built from the ground up to support the language. I, like most developers, don’t have that much experience with the language, but Android Studio made it a breeze to learn as I developed by converting my Java code to Kotlin as I wrote it.

Android Studio Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked for developing Android applications with Android Studio include Android Build, which I used to create and run performance tests on different build variants for different devices from the same project. I also liked Android Emulator, which let me simulate common devices like phones, TVs, and watches to test my application and help me account for technical variations in Android systems.

Integrations are available for Firebase, Google, Play, GitHub, Jira, and Salesforce.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Makes it easy to learn Kotlin
  • Android Build and Emulator make it easy to test performance on vastly different Android devices
  • Robust APK package management features


  • Emulation is often slow
  • High resource usage

5. NetBeans - Best Maven support

Netbeans IDE software screenshot
Setting up NetBeans on Apple silicon. (Source)

NetBeans is a Java-focused IDE from the Apache Foundation, and, like other products from the group, it’s both free and open-source.

Why I Picked NetBeans: NetBeans ships with extensive support for Maven, a build automation and project management tool for Java, also from Apache. For example, I was able to create a new Java application with Maven in a few clicks from the “New Project” menu without needing to install or import anything beforehand.

NetBeans Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked for Maven development in NetBeans include the fact that I could preview my Java from inside Maven, meaning I didn’t need to keep switching between that and the Java code editor. The IDE was also able to recognize my previous projects that used Maven and effectively manage all their packages and dependencies.

Integrations are pre-built for Oracle Database, MySQL, Hibernate, Rational ClearCase, CVS, GitHub, SubVersion, and Mercurial.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Open source
  • Robust native Maven support
  • Active developer community for support


  • Limited customization options
  • Slow update schedule

6. WebStorm - Best for web development with JavaScript

JetBrains WebStorm development software screenshot
Suggested code for React in Webstorm. (Source)

As the name suggests, JetBrains’ WebStorm is an IDE software geared towards web development, so it’s no surprise that it’s built to support the most popular web development language: JavaScript.

Why I Picked WebStorm: I hit the ground running with WebStorm because, on top of JavaScript, it ships with support for nearly everything I was likely to pair it with for web development HTML, CSS, Node.js, React, React Native, Angular, and Vue, all with smart editor features enabled. The first time I fired it up, I could do everything from designing a simple UI to building a full-stack web app.

WebStorm Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made me recommend WebStorm for JavaScript web development include the ability to preview a static web page in real-time and make changes both to the page or the linked JS and CSS files. WebStorm also has robust version control features that allowed me to track branches, manage conflicts, and see a history that I could roll back to even if I hadn’t enabled version control.

Integrations are pre-built for GitHub, PyCharm, TSLint, Stylelint, ESLint, Karma, Jest, Cucumber.js, Protractor, and Mocha.

Pricing: From $6.90/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Built-in support for popular web development languages and frameworks
  • Live HTML previews
  • Robust version control


  • Memory hog even on simple tasks
  • No free plan for most users

7. Visual Studio - Best for Windows application development

Visual Studio IDE software screenshot
System monitoring with Visual Studio IDE. (Source)

Visual Studio is an IDE from Microsoft that allows you to develop in multiple languages for several different platforms, but I found it worked best for Windows app development.

Why I Picked Visual Studio: When I was installing Visual Studio, I came across “workloads,” which are collections of tools you can pick from depending on what kind of projects you want to work on. I chose one called “Desktop development with C++,” which gave me a very streamlined experience, along with the options to use MSBuild, MSVC, CMake, and Clang to compile my code.

I also explored the “Universal Windows Platform Development” workload, which allowed me to choose whether I wanted to work with C++, C#, or Visual Basic, depending on what kind of project I was aiming for.

Visual Studio Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made me recommend Visual Studio for Windows development include the Dev Box function. It gives you preset, centrally managed workstations operating in Azure, and I can see them simplifying onboarding for distributed teams. I also liked Razor, an ASP.NET web development syntax that I used to add .NET to web pages and reuse the code from my desktop applications.

Integrations are pre-built for Azure, GitHub, TeamSupport, Testrail, Microsoft Teams, Time Doctor, Axosoft, Targetprocess, OneSignal, and LambdaTest.

Pricing: From $45/user/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Supports several popular languages
  • Workloads make the initial setup easier
  • Dev Box improves collaboration


  • Relatively steep learning curve
  • Performance dips, especially on non-Windows devices

8. Selenium IDE - Best test automation features

Selenium IDE software screenshot
Running tests with Selenium in Google Chrome. (Source)

Selenium IDE is an open-source tool for internet browsers that lets you record and play back actions to automate testing for web development.

Why I Picked Selenium IDE: Selenium has a feature called the Command-line Runner that I used to automate multiple test types on multiple systems at once without writing any code after the initial setup. It works on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, and I could run automated grid tests to ensure that my web app could function more or less similarly across various platforms.

Selenium IDE Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I found useful for test automation in Selenium include recording different locators so that if one of them failed during playback, it had enough alternatives to go back to until it found one that worked. I could also implement control flow to my tests and account for different scenarios from the first run.

Integrations are pre-built for Jenkins, Katalon Recorder, and Applitools. You can also use the Selenium IDE API to build your own plugins and connect third-party tools.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free


  • Doesn’t require extensive programming knowledge
  • Can export tests to other languages
  • Easy to set up and use


  • Functionality is limited to testing
  • Does not support testing with data-driven scripts

9. IntelliJ IDEA - Best for Java development

JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA IDE software screenshot
Java code completion with IntelliJ IDEA. (Source)

IntelliJ IDEA is an IDE from JetBrains. Its main focus is Java and Kotlin development, but it also supports a couple of other languages like SQL, JavaScript, and TypeScript.

Why I Picked IntelliJ IDEA: IntelliJ IDEA made my Java development experience smooth right from the “New Project” window, where I was able to choose the build tools I wanted. I also had the option to select my preferred JDK and have the IDE automatically download it for me if it wasn’t already on board. It also comes with dedicated support for some of my most used JVM frameworks, including Reactor, Ktor, Jakarta EE, Spring and Spring Boot, and Quarkus.

IntelliJ Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked in IntelliJ include Diagrams, which I used to visualize my code and make navigation easier on complex enterprise Java applications. I also liked doing language injections, where I embedded other programming languages into my code to introduce additional functionality while retaining syntax highlighting and code completion.

Integrations are pre-built for WebSphere, Gant, Gradle, Maven, Ant, Kubernetes, Docker, Tomcat, Glassfish, and Git.

Pricing: From $16.90/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Provides most tools you need for Java development
  • Robust version control
  • Diagrams help with navigation through large projects


  • Expensive
  • Slow performance, especially at startup

10. JupyterLab - Best for data science with Python

JupyterLab screenshot
Data visualization in JupyterLab. (Source)

JupyterLab is an IDE used to create and edit notebooks, code, and data for scientific use cases with languages like Python, R, and Scala.

Why I Picked JupyterLab: I’d used Jupyter Notebooks here and there over the years before JupyterLab, and everything about it feels like a significant improvement. For instance, it puts everything in one place rather than splitting them into tabs, making navigation easy on large projects. It maintains strong support for big data tools like Apache Spark, pandas, and ggplot2, so I can still use it to work with massive datasets.

JupyterLab Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked for data science with JupyterLab include progress views, which showed me how far along a large project was and gave me clickable error messages. I also liked that I could create a console anywhere in my notebooks and write code to work on an isolated part of my data.

Integrations are available natively for other Jupyter Project products like Binder, Notebooks, JupyterHub, and Voilà.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free


  • Web version
  • Completely free
  • Supports large CSV files with millions of cells


  • Limited integrations
  • Slow at times

11. RubyMine - Best for Ruby and Ruby on Rails

RubyMine integrated development environment software screenshot
Code completion suggestions in Rubymine. (Source)

Rubymine is an IDE from JetBrains built for the Ruby language and the Ruby on Rails framework.

Why I Picked RubyMine: I chose RubyMine because it made working with Ruby very easy with out-of-the-box support for most of the gems I use regularly, and not just Rails. For example, it supports some popular unit testing gems like RSpec, Shoulda, MiniTest, Test::Unit, and Cucumber.

Features I liked in RubyMine include diagramming and product-specific navigation based on the MVC architecture, which made it easy to move through complex Rails projects. It also comes with Rubocop, which I used to check my code style and get a detailed report with all flagged offenses.

Integrations are pre-built for Apache Derby, Docker, MySQL, Rubocop, Zeus, Rails Generators, Chef, Puppet, Vagrant, and Capistrano.

Pricing: From $9.90/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Simplifies navigation
  • Native support for popular gems
  • Robust version control features


  • Resource intensive
  • Prone to dips in performance, especially at startup

12. RStudio - Best for R

RStudio screenshot
Data visualization with RStudio. (Source)

RStudio is an open-source IDE from cloud and enterprise company Posit for the R language, and its main focus is on data science and analytics.

Why I Picked RStudio: RStudio makes it easy to import large datasets and get started analyzing them with R almost immediately. One feature that stood out to me in this regard is the ability to connect to both SQL and NoSQL databases with Posit Professional Drivers to bring in data from enterprise environments.

RStudio Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked while using RStudio include the visual markdown editor, which came in handy while I was taking notes during my evaluation. It supports citations and outline navigation, meaning you can also use it to create the reports you submit with your research findings.

The Posit Workbench allows you to connect to remote computing environments from within the IDE, so you can free up local resources if you’re working with larger-than-usual datasets.

Integrations are pre-built for Celebrus, LabKey, Azure Databricks, Azure Sagemaker, GitHub, Qualtricks, and Okta.

Pricing: $1,045/year

Trial: Free plan available


  • Powerful free version
  • Posit Workbench makes it easy to work with massive datasets
  • Visual markdown editor


  • Expensive
  • Interface is not as user-friendly as other IDEs

Other IDE Software Options

If you’re working on different kinds of projects from the ones in the list above, here are some tools you might benefit from:

  1. Rider - Best for C#
  2. Spyder - Best for scientific development in Python
  3. PhPStorm - Best for PhP
  4. SQL Developer - Best for Oracle Database
  5. Sublime Text - Best for Chromium
  6. Dreamweaver - Best for simple websites
  7. Eclipse - Best for experienced Java developers
  8. IDLE - Best for low-level Python development and learning

Selection Criteria for IDE Software

Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best IDE software for this article:

Core Functionality

Some of the things I needed the tools to be able to do include:

  • The option to write code in multiple languages or at least do multiple things with one language, so it was less restrictive.
  • The ability to debug code from within the console with a section that clearly outputs and tags error messages.
  • Being able to refactor so I could clean up my code from within the editor without affecting its functionality.

Key Features

The features I was looking for that provided the functionality I wanted include:

  • Extensibility: This provides comprehensive support for plugins in case I need to do something that the IDE couldn’t out of the box.
  • Code suggestions: Relevant code suggestions greatly speed up productivity, as I don’t have to have to remember all the syntax myself.
  • Syntax highlighting: This makes it easier for me to have a better idea of what the code will do when I run it and pre-empt errors.


Because IDEs make it easier to work with code as an alternative to simple text editors, I was looking at options that improved the user experience from the traditional alternatives as much as possible. For example, I was more likely to recommend a product if it had stronger code completion features.

Value for Money

I’ve used some very powerful free and/or open-source IDEs, so every time I evaluate a paid option, I expect it to go above and beyond. If something charges hundreds of dollars, at the very least, I expect strong out-of-the-box functionality to where I might never need a plugin.

People Also Ask

If you’re new to the world of IDEs and still feel like you have some gaps in your knowledge, here are some questions you might have.


With software engineering roles projected to grow 25% this decade, picking the right IDE is an important decision for any aspiring developer as it could affect their experience and pace of progression. There are many factors to consider when choosing an IDE, such as language support, platform compatibility, user interface, performance, stability, and key features.

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By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.