The lowdown on integrated development environments

What is it? An integrated development environment lets you edit, compile and debug C, C++ or Java code. The latest tools also provide links to Web, modeling and performance-testing applications.

What are the latest developments? Features that support software reuse and flexible programming methods are becoming common, along with collaboration and lifecycle features.

What is there to be wary of? Be sure you are getting a true IDE tool, and one that can handle the work you'll throw at it. RAD tools have their own programming languages. Other tools that work with IDEs, such as modeling programs, don't let you write code. And test the IDE you're considering to see if it has the deployment features to handle your enterprise.

Must-know info? With a spate of acquisitions and the development of new standards, the lines between IDEs and other development tools are blurring. But IDEs are still likely to be the glue in building reusable components and Web services.

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