Integrated Development Environments

We’ve been using Codio as our development environment throughout this program, mainly because it is purposely designed to provide a great educational experience for novice programmers, while allowing instructors easy access to help students when they get stuck. We have also made use of the automated grading features available in Codio throughout this program.

However, outside of these courses, you won’t have access to Codio and will instead need to find another tool to help you develop your programs. These tools are collectively called Integrated Development Environments, or IDEs, and are the primary tool in a programmer’s toolbox. Let’s look at a few options you might want to consider using in the future.

Multiple Languages

Visual Studio Code is a free IDE from Microsoft, and uses many of the same concepts and features present in their Visual Studio IDE for professionals. It supports many languages, including both Java and Python, and is also available for Windows, Mac and Linux.


To develop Java on your own computer, you’ll first need to install a Java Development Kit. There are many different IDEs available for Java, but the three most popular are:

  • Eclipse - commonly used in industry, Eclipse has been around for a long time and includes many great features for working with Java, as well as a variety of other languages.
  • NetBeans - another popular Java IDE that is now maintained by the Apache Software Foundation. Netbeans is a bit more lightweight than Eclipse and supports a number of other languages as well.
  • IntelliJ IDEA - developed by JetBrains, IntelliJ is another popular Java IDE in industry today. It includes both a paid version with tons of features, as well as a free “Community Edition” that is open source.


Python can be easily installed on just about any system. The Python Website contains download-able installers for many different versions of Python.

For Python, one of the most well known IDEs is PyCharm. Also developed by JetBrains and available in both paid and “Community” versions, PyCharm fits the bill as one of the more feature-rich IDEs for working with Python.

On many platforms the IDLE “Integrated Learning and Development Environment” is installed by default along with Python, and is a great choice for working with smaller Python projects.

Many Python developers also prefer to write code in a simple text editor, so tools such as Atom from GitHub are also popular.

Other Tools

There are many other tools that programmers can use to do their work. Here are just a few of them that we are familiar with and have used in the past.

  • Ubuntu - Ubuntu is a Linux Distribution, and it is what Codio uses behind the scenes as the operating system on the virtual “boxes” it provides. So, throughout this program, you’ve been using the Ubuntu terminal within Codio! Many programmers prefer to do development on a Linux-based system because it is easy to use and works with many common programming languages and tools.
  • VirtualBox - VirtualBox is a Virtual Machine software that allows you to install another operating system as a program directly in your computer. If you have a computer that runs either Windows or Mac and want to try Ubuntu, tools like VirtualBox are a great way to do so. There are lots of great resources online to help you set up your own virtual machine.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux - Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a platform for running a Linux-based system directly on Windows without the need for virtual machines. This pairs really well with Visual Studio Code, which includes an add-on for natively using Ubuntu and other systems via WSL. It is a bit more complex to set up than some of the other options, but once it is working it is a great option for developers on Windows who want to use Linux.
  • Homebrew - For Mac users, the Homebrew project makes it easy to download and install many applications that were designed for Linux. While Mac uses a Linux-like operating system, it isn’t directly compatible and many application must be recompiled to work natively on Mac. Homebrew takes care of all of that for us.