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If you are new to programming, and wondering which IDE to try first: many developers in this community use [Eclipse](/develop/eclipse) and the [command line](/develop/command-line).

An integrated development environment (IDE) is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE normally consists of a source code editor, build automation tools and a debugger. Most modern IDEs offer intelligent code completion features.

ImageJ can be developed using any IDE which supports Maven, which includes:

Eclipse NetBeans IntelliJ IDEA Command-line.png

Why use an IDE?

There are many advantages of using an IDE for software development:

  1. It is easy to access documentation about classes (i.e. javadoc): just point your cursor over the name of the class, or press the keyboard shortcut (e.g., in Eclipse: ⇧ Shift + F2).
  2. You can use code completion: just type the start of the class name, variable, method, etc you want to use and hit the keyboard shortcut (e.g., in Eclipse: ⌃ Ctrl + ␣ Space).
  3. Compile errors are listed in a concise list; double-clicking on a line in that list will move the cursor to the problem.
  4. You can debug your program interactively: just open the main class (i.e. a class having a public static void main(String[] args) method) and launch it in debug mode. E.g., in Eclipse: go to RunDebug AsJava Application). This will switch to a different window layout (the Debug perspective) which offers you a range of views that are useful for debugging such as: local variables, thread stack traces, etc. You can interrupt the program at any time by clicking on the pause symbol and inspect the current state, single-step through the code and even to a limited amount replace code on-the-fly.
  5. The most important version control systems can be accessed easily through the IDE’s GUI.
  6. There are many awesome keyboard shortcuts, especially effective to quickly explore large projects. (see e.g. keyboard shortcuts for Eclipse).
  7. They can be enhanced with plugins. E.g., for Eclipse, the Vrapper plugin adds a vim-like input scheme.

The main disadvantage of modern IDEs is that they are quite large and require a lot of resources—RAM and screen size in particular.