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I have been trying to get into Salesforce development recently and can't seem to find a good IDE to get started.

I have installed Eclipse and the latest version of the force.com ide but for all i can see it seems to be outdated ? when i create a lightning bundle I can only select API version 38 which causes deployment issues when i go to the environment.

What are the (free) go-to ide's for Salesforce developers at the moment?

P.s. i have tried dx but i'm really looking for a tool to develop 'directly' into a sandbox. Many thanks !

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Update (winter 19)

Scratch orgs and SalesforceDX are now available on Developer Edition orgs as well. Since it is free, I’d recommend using it with the tools provided and with Visual Studio Code and the Salesforce extensions.


The only free option I can remember right now is a web IDE at Aside.io. I personally don't use it, and don't like it because if I were to use a web IDE, then I'd just use the platform console.

For local file versioning, you are out of luck. It is either Eclipse or MavensMate (which is outdated and no longer maintained, but I suppose it still works).

In my opinion, if you are just starting with development on the platform, then you are better off using the console instead. Other options are paid.

  • The Welking Suite looks like Visual Studio. Is paid.
  • Illuminated Cloud 2 is a plugin to IntelliJ (which is a Java IDE). Not only is paid, but the IDE is resource-hungry. There are some small bugs when deploying code, but it is pretty much stable most of the time. Would not recommend to a beginner.
  • SalesforceDX comes in to save the day for developers. Or that's what Salesforce wants you to think, but it is a new feature on the platform, and has some issues that would certainly give a headache to any beginner. I personally don't recommend it as well because it is not a mature/stable tool.

To sum up: if you are willing to pay, try The Welking Suite and Illuminated Cloud. If not, then use Aside.io or the platform console.

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    Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is the officially supported IDE and it's free. – POZ Jul 4 '18 at 12:50
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    Except it only works (officially) with SalesforceDX. And SalesforceDX is (currently) a paid feature. – Renato Oliveira Jul 4 '18 at 13:12
  • True. You can however use one or several Salesforce DX trials without problem since at the end of the trial you still own your source code and dev resources. – POZ Jul 5 '18 at 5:44
  • Paid in the sense that you need a paid org to enable the dev hub in? – Keith C Jul 5 '18 at 7:29
  • Paid in the sense that you need a paid org to get the dev hub, or you create a trial org which lasts 30-days. I don't even know what happens after those days, if the dev hub becomes unavailable, or the whole org becomes unavailable. Still, it is just a trial, so I don't consider it free. – Renato Oliveira Jul 5 '18 at 14:15
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Starting out now, of the free options, I would go for Salesforce Extensions for VS Code. Uses push/pull with scratch orgs, good (local) language parsing and syntax highlighting, nice test running, good Git support out of the box.

Some quotes from the link:

As I mentioned, the Salesforce Extensions for VS Code are the future of Salesforce development. We are dedicating our resources to make this the best and most enjoyable desktop editor for Salesforce developers.

and:

Don’t worry: we know that not all the functionality from Force.com IDE is available in Salesforce Extensions for VS Code or the Salesforce CLI. We’re working on that. Rest assured that we don’t have immediate plans to deprecate Force.com IDE, and that we’ll give you plenty of advance notice when we officially move toward deprecation.

I'm using VSCode and these extensions all the time now for my development. Note that the DX CLI is used under the covers but that is no bad thing.

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  • Hi Keith, Thanks for answering. Is there any way of using visual studio code to connect to a sandbox ? Can i deploy / refresh my code from the environment in a similar way that Eclipse handles it ? – Jasper Maes Jul 4 '18 at 11:01
  • For others, ForceCode extension in Visual Studio code seems like the go-to for my above mentioned use case. However, it is being deprecated in the favor of salesforce dx. – Jasper Maes Jul 4 '18 at 11:26
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    @JasperMaes You could use SFDX to convert to the metadata API format and then deploy that but it would be very slow for anything but a small project. I'd stick with Eclipse instead. (The cost for SFDX that is a problem for you is that you need a real production org to setup as your dev hub - is that correct?) – Keith C Jul 5 '18 at 7:47
  • I am really just looking for an integrated way of working with a sandbox. I believe that converting SFDX to Metadata api using sfdx force:mdapi:convert is doing the integration myself and feels a bit inconvenient. I have decided to stick with the forcecode plug-in for the time being and it seems to be working okay ! As for Eclipse, whenever i try to create lightning components or apex classes it somehow always defaults to API Version 38.0 and i'm unable to change it which breaks deployment the environment.. so far i have not found a way of changing that on component creation. Thank you anyway! – Jasper Maes Jul 6 '18 at 8:03
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There are a couple of good ones, most of it boils down to personal preference. I'm still using Eclipse because I'm used to it I guess.

This or this one might offer some insights!

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  • Hi Koen, since you are still using eclipse. How are you handling the API version when you create a lightning bundle ? Thanks ! – Jasper Maes Jul 4 '18 at 8:32

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