Beginner Guide

What are Code Editors & IDE?

Are you a beginner who wondering which should you pick in your long coding journey? Here I am going to share the differences between them and how to pick.

Picking a code editor is a MUST on the coding journey, no matter what language you are writing, a suitable code editor helps you to save time on checking errors and giving you hints. There have no such thing called the best code editor, only the most suitable editor for you at your current level. This article will not dive into all editor individually because there are tons of them in the market, instead, I will share my experience on picking.

Anyway, notepad and words can be used as code editors too…

OK, I know code editors… but what about IDE?

IDE stands for integrated development environment. Code editors are usually lightweight because they just offer you the platform to write and you need to add extra extensions for specific purposes through the code editor’s marketplace (extensions are free). On the other hand, IDE comes with all necessary packages and extensions for specific purposes, for example, Jupiter notebook on Anaconda has included all machine learning and data analysis packages, so the user can just simply import his or her needs from the local storage. Therefore, IDE is heavier than a code editor.

For those who want and decided to go on professional development, IDE is recommended. Not only because it has prepared all tools for you, but also it gives you a better development environment such as a better project management UI and professional support for coding. IDE is not attractive to programmers who just write small scripts, but it makes your life so much easier in coding big projects.

There is free IDE available on the market such as Anaconda, and some JetBrains products. However, a subscription is needed for unlocking the full function of IDE. In addition, IDE is targeting those professional developers who gain support from companies and have a stable income.

For beginners, free IDE is more than enough, but I don’t recommend beginners to use IDE as the first coding platform, I would say you might spend a lot of time in searching and remembering terms.

Are you a newbie to that language?

I usually will go on the web-based code editor to try out a language before I install any of the extra editors. For friends who just want to explore certain languages, a web editor is enough to let you save progress, try the fundamental use of syntax, and code small projects.

Repl.it, codeshare.io, and codepen.io are some famous web-based code editors. There are free to use and they support most of the languages available on the market.

So, how do I know the time to install a code editor?

I would suggest until you learn around 80% of the basic syntax and you probably need to install packages for small projects. For example, Python journey for everyone should be similar that first learn all the syntax and pythonist code style, then go on building small projects and move on to big projects such as Django framework or big data analysis. If you finished the first part, it means you are serious about coding (most of my friends don't even finish it and quitted) and you might want to test out your skills.

In Python programming, we usually prepare a virtual environment (venv) and put our codes inside to isolate it with the global environment (local machine) which might cause leaks that break your codes. At this moment, a web-based editor is no longer suitable for you as you need to build a venv on your local machine.

Of course, it is no pain to not use a web-based editor and directly start your coding journey on a code editor.

Wait… back to the picking, how to choose then?

Let’s start with the classic 3 questions:

1. Have you decided the career path?
2. Do you have budget to spend on code editor?
3. Is the code editor community big?

Career Path

Data analyst, front-end developer, back-end developer, android developer and so on so forth.

It would be nicer if you have further decided which company to go because some of the companies have some sort of common editor. If you have friends who are working in the company, you can connect with him a bit. It might seem non-sense, but using the same editor makes teamwork easier.

Budget

Majority of the code editors are free, including my favourite: VScode. They are enough for most of the coding scenario and languages.

Paid and subscription code editors, such as WeBuilder and UltraEdit, are designed to solve problems when your code growing bigger and more files need to be opened at a time. They also offer more functions to the users but remember one thing: only choose the necessary.

Big community

In programming, having a big community is equal to more useful extensions and more supports. This is because the problems we are having now might have been solved by others. For example, Deno has been officially released in this May. On the VScode, before the official Deno team release the linter support for Deno, someone has created and uploaded to the extension marketplace. This is how awesome to have a big community supporting the code editor.

Overall

I picked up 3 code editors for beginners to start with: VScode, Sublime Text, and Atom.

They are all free and all OS supported. VScode has the largest user community and have a lot of useful extensions available. Build-in terminal and folder management UI.Sublime Text is extreme lightweight code editor. Simple but powerful.Atom is GitHub child, has large extension community, account is connected with GitHub cloud. Build-in folder management UI.

There are no right or wrong, pick the one you like and suitable for your current situation.

More Information about code editors in details.

Working hard on building myself to be a professional web developer and data analyst. Coding Python and JavaScript. GitHub: https://github.com/TheKinng96

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