Relevant Link: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/189582/how-is-an-ide-compiled

I thought I was asking a fair question that's fit for programmers.stackexchange. Apparently, many experts do not think so. What's more unfortunate is that I cannot delete the question now even though it's terrible.

I'm not here to argue, I'm genuinely curious as to why the question is considered bad. All I'm interested in hearing is the procedures used to build a modern IDE, and I simply gave an example of VS and Eclipse to illustrate my point.

Apparently, people think the example is way too farfetched so I tried to remove the example given regarding VS and Eclipse.

Some specific questions I want to ask:

  1. Is the question itself bad? For example, is it something blatantly obvious that you can't figure out why anyone would ask such question?
  2. Is the question simply not fit for Programmers.SE?
  3. Is the question itself fine but very poorly written? I'm not sure how I can improve the question from as is. I'd really love to hear suggestions for this.
  • 1
    "Is the question itself fine but very poorly written?" As of rev 2 - yes, it is (rev 1 looked better to me by the way)
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 15:04
  • @gnat See, that is precisely what I thought as well but the comments seemed to target the problems to the example I've given, so I tried to take that example out of the question. Now it lacks context.
    – TtT23
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 15:06
  • yeah I noticed. Your effort and attention to feedback in changes done from rev 1 to 2 are easy to spot and are certainly something worth respect. But the resulting text is, unfortunately, not quite OK
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 15:11
  • @gnat But that's what I'd really like to know because if the question itself is bad, then it's probably not salvageable. But if the question is OK and it's just poorly written, then it probably can be written better. I'm having a very difficult time figuring out which.
    – TtT23
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 15:13
  • well as explained in this answer, original version question was not particularly good. When editing it, you followed generally right principles (effort and attention to feedback) but somehow, the way you applied these was not particularly right - for example I personally would prefer to avoid such a radical removal of original question contents...
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 16:10
  • ...Whether it's salvageable or better drop it, hard to tell. Based, again, on the answer I referred to in prior comment, I think your best option for now is to take a break, put some effort into research of the topics Chris outlined, then return back to the question, re-evaluate it and make a better informed decision on whether it can be improved
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


To borrow a phrase from a book title: everything is obvious, once you know the answer. A lot of the down votes are from people who can't imagine not knowing the answer or being able to easily figure it out. They vote you down because they assume you're just being lazy. There's probably not much you can do about that group of voters. Others are more tolerant and assume you wouldn't ask unless the answer truly eluded you.

The other problem is the question was worded in such a way as to allow a lot of reading between the lines. This problem was exacerbated by the first problem. In other words, people were thinking the simplest answer to how an IDE is compiled was too obvious, so you must have really been asking about the general bootstrap problem of how the first version of a compiler is created. Then you specifically said that's not what you were asking, without clarifying what you intended to ask. As Charles Babbage said, that left people "not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."

So, if you want to salvage the question, you need to be specific about the source of your confusion. What exactly do you think makes compiling an IDE different from compiling any other software? Do you understand the bootstrap problem and are just curious about if IDE developers have special hooks for working on their own IDE? Are you confused as to how a stable version and an in-development version could coexist on the same system? Have you done some basic research, like looking at how an open source IDE does it? After doing that research, what specifically is still unclear?


This is my personal opinion but I think the question is not a good question (I haven't voted on it either way).

  • Your first version showed a confusion between an IDE and a compiler which is probably the version that attracted most of the down-votes. An IDE is just like any other program and is often completely independent of the compiler.
  • Your second version clears up this confusion, but it's a very basic question and a little bit of research would turn up articles on how IDEs are built.
  • The implied question (How are compilers compiled?) is also relatively easy to answer with a bit of research and may even have already been asked on Programmers.

If you'd done the research and were asking about an aspect of this process you didn't understand then your question may well have done better.

  • My intention was to find out the procedures used in practice for building a modern IDE, not necessarily compilers. Google search really didn't give much information for this other than - Built on language A,B and Framework C if applicable. For instance, SharpDevelop is an open source IDE that uses Visual Studio to build the entire IDE with the assistance of some build scripts, which is what initially triggered the question for me.
    – TtT23
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 15:11
  • 2
    @l46kok A modern IDE is like any other desktop program. Features are defined and then implemented.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 15:15

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