An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a piece of software we use to help us code. They typically have many tools that make development easier. Examples of tools may include code analysis, refactoring capabilities, or formatting of our code to make it easier to read. Some examples of IDEs are IntelliJ, Visual Studio, Android Studio, XCode.
As a minimum, most IDEs contain an editor. The editor is the place that allows us to write code in various file formats, and importantly provide syntax highlighting. We may also perform build automation, meaning the ability to build/compile our application straight from the IDE. Writing code that works means we frequently have to debug when there are issues, and most IDEs contain debuggers, which allow us to debug our application while it’s running. Also, more commonly these days, they’ll have the ability to control your source control software directly from the IDE. Plus a whole host of other features.
Some of the IDEs are beasts! Be warned. However, regarding writing automated checks and building some simple tools, you’ll only ever use a very small part of the IDE.
I’ve written a simple guide as part of the Free Java course on getting to grips with IntelliJ, my preferred IDE for Java development.