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Getting Started with an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

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Many people learn to program using a simple text editor, but eventually most end up using an integrated development environment (IDE) for building applications. An IDE is a set of tools that aids application development. Most IDEs have tools that allow you to:

  • Write and edit source code
  • See errors as you type
  • See highlighted code syntax
  • Automate repetitive tasks
  • Compile code
  • Browse class structures
  • View JavaDocs
  • Use drag-and-drop utilities for easy building of features, such as graphic objects or creating database connections

In addition, some IDEs do the following:

  • Provide templates for quick creation of JSP pages, servlets and other web components
  • Provide code-completion as you type
  • Automatically create classes, methods, and properties
  • Integrate with source code repositories, such as CVS
  • Integrate with web application servers, such as Apache Tomcat
  • Integrate with build utilities, such as Apache Ant
  • HTTP monitoring for debugging web applications
  • Unified UI for debugging Java code
  • Macros and abbreviations
  • Refactor code
  • Provide UML support

It's no wonder developers move to an IDE, but which IDE is right for you? Which features do you need? Sun Microsystems supports three IDEs for the Java platform: NetBeans, Sun Java Studio Creator, and Sun Java Studio Enterprise. The following descriptions should help you decide which IDE is best for your development needs

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