IDE reviews

Also a history of all the IDEs I’ve ever used


🟠 Hey! Sometimes the review is embedded inside the editor UI, like this one. Watch out for the insides!
| notepad.exe |

Ah, Notepad, the default text editor in Microsoft Windows XP, my OS not-by-choice back when I didn’t know what “programming” was and only cared about making mods for a game called Clonk. The game used a C-like language, but I didn’t know that nor anything about syntax and syntax coloring and other good editor stuff.

However, it got the job done. You open a file, you save it. It’s compatible with any programming language, any build tool. In fact it’s not incompatible with anything! Except Unix line endings.

Due to its simplicity and speed (tho it’s not really fast when large files), I give it a 7/10. Note that Windowses 7/10 being the only good versions of Windows is purely coincidental.

Macromedia Flash 8

screenshot of Macromedia Flash 8

What is Macromedia Flash? Macromedia Flash, or just Flash, was a Web browser plugin that everyone had back in the day before JS was powerful enough. It was used for animations, interactive experiences, Web games, Web ads, YouTube, you name it. It was the platform of all webapps before the term webapp became a thing. It was also the name of the authoring software, or IDE.

This IDE, as you can see, was very much focused on the graphics and animation part of the authoring experience, not so much on the programming side of rich Web applications. Scripts existed merely as augmentation of objects in the scene.

I didn’t care for the graphical, scene-graph-oriented development and preferred pure programming with text and text files. Same reason why I don’t like the Unity Editor. So it’s a 6/10 for me.


| FlashDevelop |

FlashDevelop was a code-first Flash IDE. My first experience with a “real” programming IDE with refactoring, build configurations, logging, libraries, and more.

I like how it renders code in bitmap fonts. Very crisp in the old CRT monitors with 800x600 screen resolution. I customized it with some downloaded programming fonts too.

Extremely lightweight compared to the alternative Adobe Flash. It’s simple and fast. Plus code completion, snippets, and REFACTORING IN ActionScript!? It’s a high 9/10.

My only problem was when some clients wanted the .fla file (Adobe’s file format for Flash projects). But that’s not a real problem.


// .______________.
// | Code::Blocks |
// |_________[6/10]

/* The only reason why I used Code::Blocks in the first place was that it was the IDE recommended for my first programming course when I was taking up CS. It was also preinstalled on the university compsci lab computers.

It’s fine. UI was not so great...? I found the build configuration setup confusing and so just ran gcc using cli. Then again it was my first time writing C, and (as I find out later in my career) build configs are always confusing.

I rate it a good 6/10. */

💡 Did you know that I manually did syntax highlighting for these in-editor reviews? At this point it became too tedious so I just made the text a code comment.


I use vi to write commit messages. It was git that trapped me in vi in the first place. I never really learned to use the advanced commands in vi, as I only use it to write in English - as in commit messages.

My rating would be export EDITOR=nano.


screenshot of Eclipse image stolen from

Eclipse was the Java IDE a few years back. It was even the official IDE for developing Android apps for a while. How the mighty have fallen.

I used Eclipse throughout college for Java courses, and in my first job working on Java backends and Android apps. It was a very big app, in terms of features and memory usage.

Unfortunately, it was really slow. It’s like waiting for an eclipse. At work, I used to come in at like 9:30AM, boot up the computer, start up Eclipse, then immediately go get some snacks. After 5 minutes the toast is ready. 10 minutes later, Eclipse becomes usable and I could finally work.

It’s a 4/10 for me, due to slow performance. I’d rather use a text editor, if I only knew how the JARs and the APKs got built.

Android Studio

screenshot of Android Studio image from Wikimedia Commons

Android Studio saved my productivity as an Android dev. Sadly, that meant no more snacks while starting up the IDE. And no more naps while compiling. I guess JetBrains saved the Android development experience as a whole, from Android Studio to Kotlin and Compose.

It was still kinda slow at startup (?), ‘cause of all the indexing going on. JetBrains really redefined IDEs with their Indexing Development Environments.

Still pretty good and still getting better. Search anywhere is awesome. The refactoring shortcuts are great. Android tools unmatched. Good 9/10. (Only problem is memory usage 👎)

Sublime Text

| Sublime Text |

Best text editor. Not an IDE per se, but it could be. Very snappy. Simple and easy-to-use with some advanced tricks.

I believe they also invented the minimap. Both the minimap and the command palette are super useful features. It’s also quite customizable and could be turned into a semi-IDE with build commands.

Due to Sublime Text I’ve grown to love the simpler, more minimalistic tools. It’s life-changing. 10/10

Visual Studio Code

| VS Code |

VS Code is the new Sublime Text. This has been my main tool in many projects for a long time now.

Sublime Text is still faster, I think, but I haven’t really compared them in a long time. I still use Sublime Text keybindings though. Muscle memory.

As a web dev, I like the built-in web browser so I could just open the page I’m working on and its source code side-by-side. And TypeScript / JavaScript support is strong.

Even outside of web development, the plugin marketplace is very extensive, and almost every language / workflow is supported.

Cider V

Cider V is an internal cloud-based editor used at Google. It’s like this cloud-based code editor, but for Google’s internal monorepo. It’s based on VS Code and pretty much behaves just like VS Code but with internal extensions.

The best thing about it is its AI-powered autocomplete, trained on Google’s own huge repository of code. Most (not all) of the time it just suggests what’s in my mind before it even exists in my mind.

demo of autcompletion

However, the normal dumb autcompletion sometimes doesn’t work (or is slow?) which gets frustrating. tbf, I get that in VS Code too when working on very large projects.

I haven’t used GitHub Copilot + VS Code so I don’t have a reference for comparison. I rate this 9/10.

IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition

screenshot of IntelliJ IDEA image from IntelliJ

Great Java and Kotlin IDE. I love the refactoring tools. Also, the data flow analysis tool is great for debugging.

But it’s slow and heavy sometimes. Must be the indexing. For me, a slow tool really ruins the flow of work and decreases productivity. IDEA makes up for it due to its features, so it’s tolerable.

As a Java IDE (without the Android goodness of Android Studio), it only gets 8.5/10.

IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Edition

screenshot of IntelliJ IDEA image from IntelliJ

This is the paid version of the above. Uh, I really didn’t notice any difference from the Community edition besides the splash screen. It’s rated 8.5/$.

That’s all for now. I will update this page as I use more IDEs. 🏄