An Integrated Design Environment (IDE) is a development environment for a programming language, for example the Delphi programming language. IDEs minimally consist of an editor, a compiler and a debugger. Sometimes a version control system, as well as various GUI builders can be integrated.
IDEs were pioneered as an alternative to the makefile system of program building, whereby configuration files were written in addition to code. These makefiles described options of how the compiler was to operate. Makefiles themselves were an advancement from just running the compilers/debugs, with options given on the ocmmand line. IDEs removed this layer of complication by controlling this collection of tools, now usually under a graphical front-end.
The most popular IDE today is Microsoft Visual Basic, which is also one of the simplest to use. For more complex work in the windows environment, however, programmers usually choose Visual C++ or Delphi (based on the Pascal programming language). The new C# (C-sharp) is thought to eventually supercede Visual C++.
Under the Linux environment many programmers still use makefiles and their derivatives, however IDEs are becoming increasingly popular. KDEs environment Kdevelop is an emerging IDE based on the gnu development tools (g++, make, gdb), which includes a graphical front-end creator.