Integrated development environments (IDEs) are software development tools, providing an interface that enables you to write, debug, run and view the output of your code.
Whether you need an IDE or find them useful depends very much on your own preferences and style of working. In my own case for example, I’ve tried both Eclipse and NetBeans, but I find them bloated and rather “overkill”. On the other hand, my LaTeX productivity shot up when I started to use Kile.
Most of my coding involves either Ruby or R, written using Emacs. For Ruby (including Rails), I use a bundled set of plugins named my_emacs_for_rails, which includes the Emacs Code Browser (ECB). For R, I occasionally use Emacs Speaks Statistics (ESS), but I’m just as likely to run code from a terminal or use the R console.
RStudio, released yesterday, is a new open-source IDE for R. It’s getting a lot of attention at R-bloggers and it’s easy to see why: this is open-source software development done right.
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