The 7 Best Solidity IDEs for Solidity Development (2023)
An integrated developer environment (IDE) is necessary for programming with Solidity. IDEs allow Solidity developers to write, edit, execute, and debug code within one software.
In this article, we introduce IDEs for Solidity Development, explain what IDEs are, why they’re important, and list the types of IDEs available. By the end of this article, you will better understand what IDEs are available and suitable for your project.
The IDEs covered in this article include:
- IntelliJ IDEA
What is an integrated developer environment (IDE)?
An integrated developer environment (IDE) is a single application that enables developers to write, edit, execute, and debug code. These developer tools combine to empower developers with an all-in-one environment for development from start to finish.
IDEs have a graphical user interface (GUI) that combines features for source code editing, debugging, and local deployment. This allows the entire software development lifecycle to be completed within one environment, including writing code, testing, and building locally.
In web3, a similar approach is taken with IDEs. For the development of web3 applications, IDEs serve as a necessity in the web3 tech stack for creating decentralized applications (dApps), smart contracts, and more.
Why are IDEs important for Solidity development?
Solidity IDEs are essential because they deliver an optimal developer experience; developers create, edit, compile, and debug code within the same environment. As smart contracts are not iterative once deployed, the environment used to create the code should provide Solidity-specific benefits. These would include additional tools such as a Solidity compiler, deployment support, unit testing, etc.
Solidity development mirrors the existing processes standardized in Web2. Although the technology and systems differ, the fundamental steps to get started remain the same. Hence IDEs are vital and play a key role for developers looking to create smart contracts.
Because numerous types of IDEs and options exist, each with benefits and tradeoffs, a developer should evaluate different IDEs.
Types of Solidity IDEs
Two types of IDEs exist for Solidity development: desktop IDEs and online IDEs. Desktop and online IDEs offer similar functionalities, with specific differences. Although desktop IDEs have traditionally been the most popular, online IDEs have gained momentum over recent years as their capabilities have been able to approach feature parity with desktop IDEs.
1. Desktop Solidity IDEs
Desktop IDE is a local IDE setup that enables developers to create and test their Solidity applications on their local machine. The IDE requires the user to install the integrated developer environment onto the computer as it enables the development environment to be created locally within the system.
Without the dependency on the internet, desktop IDEs offer Solidity developers the flexibility to leverage thousands of plugins and extensions to optimize the development process. Once development is completed, the files are all stored within the local storage and can be accessed anytime.
In Solidity development, not all desktop IDEs will provide the same value or support. As the web3 ecosystem matures, it’s best to use the most popular IDEs for Solidity that provide extensions or plugins that optimize for smart contracts (i.e., syntax highlighting, snippets, etc.).
2. Online Solidity IDEs
Online IDEs, or cloud IDEs, do not require installation before they can be used. They offer tremendous flexibility to develop smart contracts without configuration to the developer workspace.
Online IDEs continue to gain traction in recent years as they provide very similar functionalities to the developer experience without any installation (i.e., speed, Github integration, etc.). However, it is crucial to be mindful that the storage of online IDEs often resides in browser storage and is temporary.
In Solidity development, online IDEs have emerged as a leading tool for developers of all backgrounds. The simplicity and ease of writing Solidity without any prior setup to the environment allow developers more flexibility in building and learning Solidity development.
The 7 Best Solidity IDEs
This article covers the seven best IDEs for Solidity development: Remix, Hardhat, Truffle, VScode, EthFiddle, IntelliJ IDEA, and Embark.
Remix is an open-source, online IDE for Solidity development on Ethereum or EVM-compatible blockchains. Remix is popular because users can get started without any prior setup, and it supports the entire software development lifecycle.
Remix's layout consists of four sections that divide the main panel for writing code, terminal, plugins/extensions, and files. Remix offers various Solidity modules, including a Solidity compiler, deployment support, debugger, and Solidity static analysis. Moreover, Remix provides unit testing assistance with tools such as a CLI, assert library, and plugin.
Remix's online IDE supports Firefox, Chrome, and Brave with restrictions on tablets and mobile devices. Since its launch, Remix has expanded beyond its online IDE to a desktop application and VSCode extension.
Remix also enables native external integrations with Hardhat, Foundry, Truffle, and Slither for expanded Solidity troubleshooting tools and developer features.
Hardhat is a Solidity development environment built using Node.js in 2019 by the Nomic Foundation and has been essential in web3 development ever since. It is easy to test smart contracts built with Hardhat because of Hardhat's plug-and-play environment that doesn't require developers to set up a personal Ethereum network to test their smart contracts.
Hardhat facilitates the process of managing, compiling, deploying, and testing smart contracts on the Ethereum network. Its key features include:
- Hardhat network: Hardhat offers a local Ethereum network designed for development.
- Stack trace: A stack trace that makes it easy to debug smart contracts if a transaction fails.
- Console.log: Developers can directly use console.log in their Solidity code using Hardhat.
Truffle is a development environment, testing framework, and asset pipeline for creating smart contracts for blockchains using the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). It offers developers a range of tools for creating dApps, including a smart contract compiler, automated testing, and deployment scripts.
Developers can use Truffle to efficiently write and manage smart contracts using the Solidity programming language, simplifying the development process by offering features like contract migration, network management, and debugging.
Truffle supports the entire lifecycle of projects built on Ethereum, Hyperledger, Quorum, and other supported EVM-compatible platforms. When used with Ganache, a personal blockchain, and Drizzle, a front-end dApp development kit, Truffle provides an end-to-end solution for dApp development.
Visual Studio Code is a leading code editor launched in 2015 and continues to be maintained by Microsoft. Most of VScode's traction is because its desktop application offers extensive support to developers. VScode is fully equipped with integrations with Github and various workspaces and supports 20+ programming languages.
Though it's not recommended, the development process can take place in both the online and local environment as this IDE provides both an online and desktop IDE at no cost.
Solidity developers can leverage various extensions and plugins that offer an immersive experience to develop end-to-end decentralized applications. The 50+ extensions directly support creating smart contracts on Ethereum by providing syntax highlighting, snippets, compilation, and more.
VScode also provides integrations with web3 technologies like Hardhat for an optimal and inclusive developer experience.
EthFiddle is an online Solidity IDE powered by Loom Network, launched in 2017. EthFiddle’s simple user interface enables developers to write, test and debug smart contracts within the browser for free.
Once completed, the code can be accessed seamlessly using a permalink which allows users to share and create code snippets. With EthFiddle’s objective to become an accessible and quick Solidity IDE that requires no configuration, this platform is not accessible locally on your computer.
6. IntelliJ IDEA
Launched in 2001, IntelliJ IDEA is an integrated development environment (IDE) created by JetBrains. It was developed in Java and primarily designed to support software written in Java, Kotlin, and other JVM languages.
The IntelliJ IDEA desktop IDE provides numerous developer-focused features, including coding assistance (i.e., refactoring, debugging, etc.), various plugins, and more. Since 2017, IntelliJ IDEA has offered Solidity support enabling developers to write code in Solidity and leverage other tools in the ecosystem, such as Foundry.
Embark is a command line interface (CLI) that extends into a suite of developer tools for developing decentralized applications (dApps). Its developer environment extends beyond the framework to provide an all-in-one solution for the decentralized application lifecycle.
Embark provides features such as integration with Ethereum or EMV-compatible blockchains, decentralized storage (i.e., IPFS), decentralized communication (i.e., Whisper), smart contract configuration, testing/debugging workflows, and more.
Become a Solidity Developer
This article has introduced you to the most popular tools for Solidity development. If you're learning Solidity and want to become a Solidity developer, explore Alchemy University's free 7-week Ethereum Developer bootcamp.