Many “Old-School” Software developers hate IDEs (Integrated development environments). They think they’re cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating to use.
But why? Is it because developers are stubborn and unwilling to change? Or is there something else going on here?
In this post, I’ll explore some common reasons software developers don’t like IDEs, the positives of using an IDE, and how you can make them work for your team if they’re ready for an upgrade from their current setup.
Lack of Flexibility.
IDEs are hard to customize. Creating your own IDE from scratch is much more challenging than creating a text editor or word processor.
In fact, many developers prefer to use simple text editors instead of IDEs because they have more flexibility and can be customized in ways that IDEs simply can’t.
Some IDEs don’t work well with third-party tools: IDEs often don’t play well with other tools used by software engineers, like CI servers or version control systems (VCS).
This means you’ll have trouble integrating them into your workflow when spending hours configuring and learning how they work together. Even then, bugs or incompatibilities may make using it less efficient than expected.
Too Much Power.
The problem with IDE power is that it comes at the cost of complexity. The more features an IDE has, the more complicated it becomes to learn, use, and configure. This can be intimidating to some developers who are already overwhelmed by their work as it is.
There’s also a third issue: IDE dependencies can make updating your software difficult or even impossible if you have multiple programs that depend on each other, requiring an update.
For example, suppose you want to update my version of Qt because it causes problems with one of your applications. In that case, another application still uses an older version of Qt and needs to stay compatible.
That could cause compatibility issues in your app unless you devise some workaround (such as using two separate IDEs).
Heavily Platform Dependent.
If you once used an IDE, you might noticed that a lot of them are often very platform-dependent. This is because their primary purpose is to make them more accessible and efficient for developers.
However, this also makes them less portable. The fact that some of them are not cross-platform means that if you want to work on multiple operating systems or devices, it will be much more complex than if you had simply used a text editor such as Notepad++ or Sublime Text.
Setup Can Be Intimidating.
Say it’s time to set up your IDE. Although it might not be as simple as you initially thought. If you were new to programming.
It could have been intimidating and confusing, especially if the IDE is complex or has a steep learning curve. Furthermore, many IDEs require a lot of setup work before being used properly.
Don’t get discouraged. Plenty of online resources will help you get started with your IDE and ensure it works correctly on your machine.
An excellent place to start is by reading through the documentation provided by your chosen IDE provider; this way, you’ll learn how they expect their software should be configured for it to function correctly on any particular system.
Expensive Enterprise Features.
Enterprise features are often not helpful, and they’re expensive. They can also be challenging to install, configure, and use.
For example: if you work at a small startup with a single developer, your company might not have the budget for enterprise features like source control or project management tools like Jira.
Even if you do have the money for those tools, it’s hard to justify spending thousands of dollars on services when you’re just getting started.
A developer’s time is their most valuable resource. An IDE that’s slow to load, slow to start, and slow to run will be avoided at all costs.
IDEs are also slower than the command prompt when compiling code. In fact, many developers have started using tools like “Fastlane” that allow them to automate this process entirely through the command line.
This again is better because it doesn’t require opening an IDE every time you want to compile your code.
Another common complaint is that IDEs are slow when running unit tests. This can be a big deal if you’re working on a large project with hundreds of unit tests (or even thousands).
It’s easy enough to run these tests in parallel with `rake,` but there’s still some overhead involved with opening up an IDE and switching between them as needed during testing cycles.
Especially if those cycles are lengthy or frequent enough, they need constant attention from developers who aren’t entirely focused on other aspects of their work (like design).
IDEs can be a pain when troubleshooting, especially when working as a team. If you’re using an IDE and someone on your team is having a problem.
You’ll probably have trouble figuring out what is going on with their code without seeing how they wrote it or what the pieces mean.
Additionally, suppose something goes wrong with my code that isn’t related to syntax errors (which are usually easy to spot). In that case, it may be challenging to figure out where the issue lies within the codebase.
Some developers prefer the flexibility of working with a text editor and terminal rather than an integrated development environment.
The most prominent example is the Vim and Emacs editors, often used in conjunction with the command line interface (CLI). Other popular choices for this style of development include Sublime Text and Atom.
IDEs Can Be Useful, But They’re Not for Everyone.
IDEs are not a replacement for good programming skills; they’re just another tool in your toolbox that can help you accomplish specific tasks more quickly and efficiently than others.
If you’re already well versed with the command line and don’t use IDEs, just because an IDE doesn’t fit into your workflow. It doesn’t mean it won’t be a valuable addition for someone else out there.
We’ve examined why software developers might not like or use an integrated development environment and how to overcome them.
There are plenty more reasons for IDEs to be unpopular among programmers, but hopefully, this article has given you some insight into what they are and how best to approach them.