So i will start this by saying trying to figure out what platform to even code on was one of the biggest pains starting on this journey. I researched, watched video tutorials, and posted on forums. I downloaded at-least five different programs trying to figure out the difference between IDE’s and Text Editors. The short version, if you don’t want a headache, just go download an IDE. If you don’t know what an IDE or Text Editor is I will be explaining below. If you are using a PC then you are going to be downloading Visual Studio (the Community Edition is free); I have heard a version of VS is coming out for Mac but i’m not certain when. Unfortunately, i’m not on a Mac so you will have do some research to find out what works best for you. In the future I would love to come back and update this post to be more help to both sides of the fence.
Let’s start by telling you what an IDE is; an IDE is an Integrated Development Environment. What this means is that it is an all encompassing program; you can code in it, you can compile in it, and you can debug in it. Depending on what you are doing, from what I have seen, this is the best option. It gives you everything that you will need from beginning to end right there at your finger tips. As for the difficulty level it’s pretty steep. If you are a true beginner (like I am) then you better get comfortable being uncomfortable!
When you start new projects it’s going to give you a bunch of files and code that you have no idea what to do with, do your best to try and ignore most of it. As i learn more and figure things out i will write more posts on how to use these programs and their features. All in all though, these are your safest bet. For now though let’s move onto Text Editors.
First off there is a ton of Text Editor’s(TE) out there, so this is going to boil down to preference. So, you might be asking yourself, why a text editor? They fill a niché (they are popular with web developers), if you aren’t constantly needing to compile code (circle back to web developers) then these might fit your needs better. The one I found and worked with the most was Atom. It is an open source TE started by GitHub (if you don’t know GitHub you should get to know it). This Text Editor can be modded like crazy to add in extensions, looks, and so many other things.
Now I stated above that with some knowledge you could get a TE close (i say this with hesitation due to my lack of knowledge you may be able to fully match it the capabilities of an IDE) to the environment of an IDE. The big draw back to most (not all) TE’s is that you can’t run, compile, and debug your code. The lion’s share (again, not all) are limited on the types of code they will recognize as well. Atom for example needs an extension downloaded and added to annotate and recognize C++, along with other languages as well (wiki link for knowledge about C++). On top of that you need an add-on to have the program run and compile code.
I don’t want to turn you off of TE’s, even if you do compile code regularly and prefer the interface and design of them then by all means go for it, with Atom in particular most of these add-ons were easy to find and install. The problem for me arose with adding the compiler. If I hadn’t have ran into the problems I would probably still be using Atom.
Compilers for those that don’t know are programs designed to take the code you wrote and compile them into a working program. In IDE’s as i stated earlier these are built into the programs and with a quick keystroke can compile and run.
As for TE’s and compilers, again using Atom as the example, you need to download and route the path for them to work. The most popular compiler being MinGW. There is a plethora of information on how to download, install, and route the compiler to your TE so i’m not going to go into here.
Disclaimer: I get not kick back or reimbursement of any kind from the links. They are the property of their respect owners. I have shared links as to give you information and get you started on your way. ** All photos are sourced from free sites, credit to photographers are not required but I feel they should receive credit.