Commercial machine vision software is currently classified along two lines: the conventional vision library and the vision-specific integrated development environment (IDE). Determining which software is right for your vision project depends upon a variety of factors: ease-of-use, productivity, flexibility, performance, completeness, and maintenance. This white paper uses these factors to contrast the two software development approaches and clearly establish the merits and drawbacks of each. The discussion assumes that the vision tools available in both types of software are similar—if not identical—and does not explore possible discrepancies with these tools. Also, the discussion ignores the hardware platform that the vision applications run on as to not bias one over the other.