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A development environment is the collection of processes and tools that are used to develop the source code for a program or software product. This involves the entire environment that supports the process end to end, including development, staging and production servers. The development environment automates or facilitates the routines involved in creating, testing, debugging, patching, updating, and maintaining software, including long-term maintenance.

Within the overarching development environment, you can find an integrated development environment (IDE), which is a development tool that developers use to write, build, test and debug software programs. The IDE provides a clear and consistent interface that supports the processes of writing and testing code, and packaging it for release. Having a single tool to author, modify, compile, deploy and debug the software reduces the setup time needed when the team has to piece together different development utilities. It also improves overall developer productivity and leads to a more efficient overall development environment.