Eclipse with IDE(06-Mar-2019: Salesforce has discontinued any future development on IDE for Eclipse. For writing codes on Salesforce, you should now switch to using Microsoft Visual Studio with Salesforce Extensions Pack. And I have you covered there also. Please click here to get a step-by-step guide on how to install and get started with MS VS Code with Salesforce Extensions Pack)

Here is the step-by-step instructions with screenshots on how to download, install and configure IDE on Eclipse platform, connect to a Salesforce Org and explore. In less than 30 minutes, you will have the IDE fully setup and connected to a Salesforce Org.

Salesforce has two main proprietary programming languages. Apex & Visualforce.

Apex is a strongly typed, object-oriented programming language that allows developers to execute flow and transaction control statements.

And Visualforce is a framework that allows developers to build sophisticated, custom user interfaces that can be hosted natively on the platform.

When developing applications on / Platform, you can choose any of the following ways to create your custom codes.

    1. In Salesforce GUI on browser
    2. In Developer Console
    3. Use an IDE (Integrated or Interactive Development Environment)

For simple, light development requirements, you can use Salesforce GUI on browser or Developer Console. However, for heavy development and where you need to integrate with a source code repository with version control, using an IDE is a preferred option.

An IDE typically consists of an editor, build automation tools, debugger, syntax highlighter, intelligent code completion etc. that makes development much more efficient and faster.

One of such IDE that you can use is IDE based on Eclipse platform.

If you are new to Salesforce development or have been working as a Salesforce Administrator, Consultant or Architect and want to get your hands dirty, then this blog post will help you get started with the IDE. Please note that you will need Salesforce Enterprise Edition or above or a Developer Org to connect from an IDE

The instructions and screenshots in the following presentation were taken on Mac OS X Yosemite 10.10, but I think it should work just fine on Windows also with minor deviations in the steps.