Writing code used to be a pain: write everything in long hand on coding tablets, go to the key punch and punch the cards, mark the cards in case you dropped them (what a pain!), take them to the computer room where the lords of the Glass Room would take them, run them at their convenience, and give you your green bar print out – usually the next day. (Obviously you would take great pains to desk check your code before you ever took it down so it was nearly perfect, otherwise it might take a week to get a good short program written.)
Now we have PCs and direct access to our Big Iron – if we have any Big Iron – so writing code is much easier, and submitting it for debugging is a breeze. And why spend hours desk checking when you have the compiler right there to do that for you?
But, a syntax checker and basic logic checker make writing code that much better and easier. Some can cost thousands of dollars. (If I remember, the one I used in a past life ran $1200 a station for the COBOL version, and much more than that for the PL/I version – and we wrote both in our section.) Now you can get them for free, and decent ones at that. This article shares their list of the top 12 free code editors, with their thoughts and comments.