Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Best Free IDE for beginner?

I had a wierd request.

Someone in a third world country (read poor) wants to learn computer programming.

What is the best language with a FREE and powerful IDE they can use to learn programming.

He is an intelligent bloke, but his current computing skills do not extend beyond basic computing (windows and linux) and Office (both MS and Open).

I think most of what he wants to end up doing will be number crunching and possibly some basic business apps.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Borland Delphi is free for non-commercial use, and is a very nice language to learn too.

i like i
Monday, February 23, 2004

Eclispse is nice.

Dan Brown
Monday, February 23, 2004

#Develop (read SharpDevelop) is an open-source c# IDE, which would allow him to use the current up-and-coming language, c#.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Ditto SharpDevelop.

Dan Brown
Monday, February 23, 2004

If he's running Linux / BSD, the best bet is probably Eclipse. In a few months check out MonoDevelop.

Andrew Murray
Monday, February 23, 2004


C# - Borland offers a nice C# IDE for free.  It's a personal edition, but it'd be good for learning C#.

Java - I believe Java comes with an IDE called JavaBeans that comes with the JDK.

Python - ActiveState has something called PythonWin, which comes with theirmPython and is an IDE of sorts.  There's no GUI building to it, but for commandline stuff it's cool.

For Linux/BSD, I think the preferred, free IDE is Emacs or XEmacs.  For BSD, when disguised as Mac OS X, it's probably Project Builder.  My preferred IDE, however, for Linux/BSD is a combination of vi, mysql, and Mozilla running in different windows. :)

Andrew Burton
Monday, February 23, 2004

Install GNU/Linux with the KDE environment, but be sure to get the latest stable version (3.2). Then try KDevelop. There are good tutorials on its web pages. I've worked with Borland Delphi on the MS Windows platform, but this is even better.

Jonas B.
Monday, February 23, 2004

Kylix - I forgot to mention Kylix, a Linux-based IDE for programming in Delphi/Object Pascal.  I think the open version is free for personal use.

Andrew Burton
Monday, February 23, 2004

There are a ton of free java IDEs available.  Amongst the best are:
Gel -
NetBeans -
Eclipse -

I wouldn't use the javabeans developer

For ASP.NET don't forget Web Matrix at

Monday, February 23, 2004

I know some of you will frown on the suggestion of a shareware, but EditPlus2's small fee and controlled feature set has paid back in many many ways for the things it can do. You aren't shelling out 5000 for visual studio, the license goes anywhere from $30 down to $8 depending on licensing.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, February 23, 2004


(just kidding)

Benji Smith
Monday, February 23, 2004

Well at least you didn't say EMACS

Simon Lucy
Monday, February 23, 2004

Bloodshed Dev C++ looked nice.
Monday, February 23, 2004

Since no one mentioned it, I have found JCreator (Community Edition) to be a great Java IDE ( ).  It is written in C++, so it's fast and it has the closest mapping of commands to Visual Studio.  It is also the BEST editor I have used for XML, JSP, HTML, etc.

Monday, February 23, 2004

If you have MS Office, why not start with Visual Basic for Applications?

Aussie Chick
Monday, February 23, 2004

Nice point, Aussie Chick.  As someone who started with Access programming, I'm partial to that option... ;>

Sam Livingston-Gray
Monday, February 23, 2004

I started out as a programmer by learning JavaScript (in a plain-old text editor (TextPad)), and using Microsoft Internet Explorer as my execution environment. I think that's one of the best ways to learn about programming.

I think it's good to start off without an IDE, because the process of _typing_ stuff helps to cement it into your brain. Whereas an IDE that does all of the auto-completion for doesn't give you the same opportunity to actually _type_ out your code.

I also think that VBA inside of Microsoft Office is another great way to learn about programming. I think it's very educational to record a macro and then look at the code to see what's happening with it. Also, the MS Office application object models are very well designed and are, I think, a very good introduction to object-oriented programming.

Benji Smith
Monday, February 23, 2004

For Java, I think JEdit would be a good choice - easy to use and runs well on crappy hardware.

2 cents
Monday, February 23, 2004

Depends on what language:

GEL is a  pretty damn good Java IDE for windows.  I think it beats JBuilder hands down (ironic, that GEL was created with a borland tool: Delphi).

SharpDevelop is pretty good.
C#Builder is also pretty good.

Bloodshed Dev C++ (also created with Borland Delphi)

Borland Delphi Personal

Monday, February 23, 2004

As a newbie; Gel is a bit..  (tries to come up with non-critical way of saying not a good a idea) too complex to get into.  As a newbie, when learning Java I used JCreator LE(  It's FREE; has an upgradable option to go 'PRO' [not free]; AND it has very good, non-complex configurations.  Yes, I've tried JavaBEANS.  No, I would not suggest it - too much power needed to run.  JCreator (yes, LE and PRO) runs on almost anything relatively recent fairly well and has the capability to impress even more experienced hands like me when I need to do some more complex programming.  Also has some damn fine debugging tools.

As to power and usability, I've converted quite a few Eclipse and CodeWarrior (yes, even JBuilder) developers onto it with extreme ease..
Eclipse.. is a bit odd to use, but servicable I guess (if you don't mind the quirky interface).

John Gipsen
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Magic C++

See for more information. There's also a free trial download. It looks just like Visual C++ and supprots for editing, compiling, debugging etc.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

For maximum fun with minimal input, I'd suggest learning Perl. It will let you create dynamic web sites pretty quickly.
With Perl, all you really need to develop is a text editor that does syntax highlighting, and all you need to test is a browser.  A good cheap Perl editor is editplus.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home