MPLAB® X IDE is the centerpiece of PIC® Microcontroller development. It provides all the tools you need to write, build, and debug code. MPLAB® X IDE is based on the NetBeans IDE and includes an editor, project manager, software simulator, and assemblers for all our microcontroller architectures. High level language compilers (C, C++, Basic and others), both from Microchip and third parties, are available separately and are easily configured to work as if they were built into the IDE.
MPLAB® X IDE also acts as a front end to many hardware tools such as in-circuit debuggers and programmers. While MPLAB® X IDE isn't intended to be a production programming tool (MPLAB® X IPE - Integrated Programming Environment is better suited for that task), it still provides all the functionality needed to program devices using any Microchip programmer.
MPLAB® X IDE is also very extensible with its robust plug-in architecture. Many plug-ins, both from Microchip as well as third parties, are available to add new capabilities to the environment. One example is a special version of the Proteus VSM Viewer provided with the class downloads that you may use to simulate the hands-on exercises for this class.