Skip to content

Brilliant Coding Blog

Be Brilliant

Open Source programming environments that make coding easier

A programmer’s life is hard enough keeping up-to-date on the latest technologies, understanding product specifications, and debugging issues. These programming environments help keep programmer sane by offering integrated syntax coloring, auto-completion, debugging tools and more.

The main tools on this list are also all Open Source projects themselves. This enables you to directly contribute to the evolution of the tool and easily develop custom plugins.


eclipse-ide-for-java-ee-developers_5The Eclipse project is one of the most versatile programming environment created. In addition to very popular programming languages like Java, C and Python, there is a plugin for almost every other major language used today. Even ML languages like OCaml have support in Eclipse. The range of configuration options that Eclipse provides, comes at a price. As a result from the many options, Eclipse is notoriously difficult to setup and configure. There are options for downloads for specific environments, which helps, but individualized settings can still be a challenge to maintain for a development team.

  • Source Repository link
  • Eclipse Download link

Also check out the new Eclipse Che project which is the ‘next-generation’ Eclipse IDE.  More information can be found here: link


kdevelop_4_screenshotThe KDevelop project is specially well suited to development on Linux. However ports to both OSX and Windows do exist. KDevelop is built off of the KDE Platform of technologies and supports C, C++, PHP and Python development, among many others. KDevelop tends to be more popular for C and C++ language development, as such, KDevelop is really targeted for the professional developer who already has a strong grasp of programming.

  • Source Repository link
  • KDevelop Download link


netbeans_1NetBeans supports a number of scripting languages, plus Java.  It lets you quickly develop Java desktop, mobile, and web applications, as well as HTML5 applications with HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. The IDE also provides a great set of tools for PHP and C/C++ developers. Contributing to the NetBeans project requires using Mercurial instead of Git for source control. While Mercurial is free to download, it is not open source

  • Source Repository link
  • NetBeans Download link


komodo-edit_1KomodoEdit is the Open Source version of the popular Komodo IDE. It supports an amazing range of programming languages, although many people tend to use it more for web development versus Java or C. While lacking some of the features that are included in the full version, there is a community of addons, many which are Open Source as well that can be found here.

  • Source Repository link
  • KomoEdit Download link

IntelliJ Community

intellij_idea_12-0-4_ultimateIntelliJ Community is the Open Source version of the popular Intellij Idea and Pycharm programming environments. IntelliJ Community and PyCharm support fewer languages than most of the other tools on this list. However that allows IntelliJ Community and Pycharm to be much easier to setup and get started with. Even though there are a number of features in the full version that are not available in the Open Source version, there is still a community of plugins that can be found here

  • Source Repository link
  • Idea Community Download link for Java
  • PyCharm Download link for Python

Other notable projects

Nuclide – A development environment targeted at PHP/Hack and ReactJS built on top of the Atom text editor.

  • Source Repository link
  • Nuclide Download link

Aptana – A development environment built on top of Eclipse, and tends to be used more for web development.

  • Source Repository link
  • Aptana Download link
  • PyDev Download link for Python

Visual Studio Community / Visual Studio Code / GitHub project vcode – Unfortunately while Microsoft’s programming environments are great, they also come with a range of licenses and different contrib options.  While a full discussion is likely the subject of another post.  Here are some links to get you started!

  • Visual Studio Community link
  • Visual Studio Code link
  • Github project “vcode” link

Is there a programming environment that should be on our list?

Let us know in the comments!

— Updated 3/22/2016

  • Added Visual Studio entry
  • Added reference to Eclipse Che
  • Fixed typos
Open Source programming environments that make coding easier