Fuxing Loh

Dec 20, 2020(4 years ago)

Integrated Development Environment? (Text Editor, that’s just an IDE with extra steps)


Back in the summer of 2018, I was working in a co-working space; I overheard an intern having a conversation about PyCharm. In his words: ‘PyCharm is very powerful and useful, but no way I would use it after my student license expires. It costs $150 a year, it's way too expensive!’

I was astonished by his self-inflicted masochism just to save a couple of bucks. What I couldn't wrap my head around was the $3000 MacBook Pro sitting in front of him. He is willing to drop a few grand on that, but when it comes to a mere $10 or so bucks a month, he is not willing to pay for it.

It’s too expensive?

IntelliJ IDEA is awesome, but it is too expensive; I rather spend my money on something else.

A significant number of people I have spoken to found value in using an IDE. Their most common argument is the “costly” nature of using such a product. That argument is flawed from the get-go, we could break down that argument, or you could ask yourself these 5 questions.

  • Do you find it useful?
  • How much time have you saved with this IDE?
  • Do you like more time?
  • How much is your time worth?
  • Opportunity cost = IDE cost — (Time saved x Value of your time)

It’s basically free money. You get more work done for half the time!

It's too slow, it freezes up my device?

WebStorm is too slow, I would like to code without pausing for the IDE to catch up.

  • Do you find it useful?
  • Is performance the problem?
  • Look at the first perspective.
  • Get a faster computer.

So-and-so don’t use an IDE, hence to be as good as them you should not?

‘Insert your idol here’ don’t use it.

There are a few highly acclaimed and god-like developers that use only a text editor and their favourite command-line interface. Without an IDE, they have consistently produced quality work in a short amount of time.

They were the old guards that paved the way. The writers of the languages and operating system you use today. The designers of frameworks that provided the structure for your work, the very structure the IDE relies on. They have an unfathomable wealth of knowledge in their domain.

Are you one of those people? Yes? Now find the best engineer you know and ask them if they use an IDE. Now, run the question in a recursive loop and if the result is still a yes. Well, either you are really the ‘pros’ mentioned above or you haven’t met enough engineers.

Otherwise, mere mortals like us, we are only so capable. We don’t have the bandwidth or the wealth of knowledge and experience like they do. We can either participate in the meaningless ritual of self masochism or we can focus on solving real problems.

What's next?


I have been using JetBrains suite of products since 2013 where I got my first classroom license.

As I was about the graduate, the school stopped renewing the license for me; I purchased an IntelliJ IDEA personal license for myself in 2015.

Today I have a personal license for JetBrains large family of products and have been convincing developers to join me.

If you are just using a basic text editor, and you are in an organization, send your boss this article and convince them to get everyone a commercial license. If you are an individual like me that would like to act fast now, get yourself a much cheaper personal license. After all, this is for the betterment of your own productivity.

And for students! It’s free for you now, take this opportunity and evaluate the product yourself with the educational license.

I am not paid, and I have no affiliation to JetBrains, I just like their products. There are other Integrated Development Environment in the market, but they are not as Integrated as I like them to be.