Salesforce Apex Master Class (Ep. 4) – What is an IDE?

What is an IDE?

Let’s review what an IDE is and why it’s so incredibly helpful to you as a developer in Salesforce and beyond. As a developer, you’re encouraged to use an IDE, since it can make your work so much easier.

An IDE is an integrated development environment, where you can combine a wide variety of development tools to do your work much faster and more efficiently every day. Now, let’s check out an example (below) of an IDE at work. This particular IDE is IntelliJ, and I’m using a plug-in that allows me to do Salesforce development called the Illuminated Cloud 2 plug-in.

Demoing the Benefits of Using an IDE

An IDE like IntelliJ here will make your life, and the lives of your developer teammates, so much easier. In this interface, I have my code editor so I can write Apex code or a lightning web component, among other things. I can also analyze debug logs here in this IDE, or even run anonymous Apex. But why should you use an IDE and not just a developer console? An IDE like IntelliJ has many features that developer consoles don’t.

The first major benefit is if you want to know everywhere that a class is used in your codebase, you can simply copy the name of the class, then press CTRL-shift-F, and then the IDE searches for the class in all of the code in your Salesforce environment. There are also a litany of other hotkeys that will make traversal through your code base considerably easier. Shortcuts like that aren’t available in the developer console.

Autocomplete is another major advantage in using an IDE like IntelliJ with Illuminated Cloud 2. You can type “system.” and the IDE knows methods are available for that system class in the Apex language. So, you it will present to you a list of autocompleted methods that you can select from and have your code auto-completed for you. By contrast, the Salesforce developer console’s auto-complete features struggle and sometimes just outright do not work. This makes it easy for programmers, like you, to know all your options without having to look them up elsewhere in documentation.

There’s even more an IDE can do for you. For example, you can enable version control, allowing you to create local backups of your code, so you can revert back if something goes wrong. You sure can’t do that in a developer console! Meanwhile, you can find more useful stuff in the settings menu too, such as setting all the defaults for code style for a specified language, such as Apex or Javascript. All that will be automatically formatted for you. You can export all this to other developers on your team too, and make everyone’s code consistent. That’s an example of the convenient, time-saving efficiency of an IDE.

Another option is to run your Apex tests in the IDE, and it will display coverage next to the classes that it tests. Yes, you can do that in developer consoles too, but an IDE like IntelliJ will conveniently show you which classes the test covered, and even break down what happened in those tests, such as line coverage. Pretty cool, huh? And this is just the start; an IDE can do a whole lot more!

To recap, an IDE like IntelliJ will make your life as a programmer faster, more convenient, more direct, more consistent, and more intuitive than ever before, acting like a souped-up developer console with more options so you can get more work done. Give it a try, and see what you can accomplish with the power of an IDE! Until next time!

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Salesforce Development Books I Recommend

Advanced Apex Programming
Salesforce Lightning Platform Enterprise Architecture
Mastering Salesforce DevOps
Apex Design Patterns Book

Good Non-SF Specific Development Books:

Clean Code
Clean Architecture
Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software Book

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