Java IDE Compared

February 27th, 2012 Leave a comment
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Java Development Environments Compared

If you are just getting started learning Java it is important to choose a development environment that suits your programming style and needs. This can be a daunting task for beginners since there are many IDEs available that may be suited to your task. Some are great commercial products and others are excellent examples of the efficiency of open source development. What many new developers may not know is that IDEs have continued to evolve their point of view, creating a set of tools with different strengths and weaknesses to fit different programming styles and functionality needs.

When it comes to asking which environment is best, many developers can get very attached to their editor of choice and become very defensive of their chosen editor. How do new developers find an editor they like? Hopefully you won’t have to try them all! In this article we will make a side-by-side comparison of the top Java IDEs to help you decide which one may be right for you. If you are looking for more than just IDE, check out one of our Java training courses!

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ IDEA

Created: January 2001

Developed by: JetBrains

Current Version: 10.5.2

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux & Mac OS X

Main Features: Supports multiple languages and frameworks, UML class diagramming, GUI builder, code highlighting, refactoring, JVM support, code generation and formatting functions.

Price: Free for education and open source. Commercial from $99 – $499.

Free Trial: Yes, 30 days.

Our Take: A fast development environment that provides many features for developers of several languages. Java developers can appreciate the built in JVM support as well as the snappy debugger and extensive refactoring menus. IntelliJ has created a great product that allows for faster and more efficient development through the use of better menus and keyboard shortcuts as well as intuitive features. Downsides? Not really.

Eclipse JDT

Eclipse JDT Created: November 2001

Developed by: Open source community

Current Version: 3.7.1

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X & Solaris

Main Features: A multitude of plug-ins for any occasion, based on Java, GUI editor, code highlighting, syntax checking, auto-completion, hover-help, JVM support and refactoring.

Price: Free

Our Take: Eclipse is a powerful Java IDE that can become your editor of choice for many different project types and scenarios due to the large amount of plug-in and other language support. The interface is well-designed and allows you to quickly access the functions that you need. The biggest complaint about Eclipse seems to be the amount of memory it consumes during operation. This may not be an issue for you depending on the hardware of your development computer.

NetBeans

NetBeans

Created: 1996, known as Xelfi

Developed by: Oracle Corporation

Current Version: 7.01

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X & Solaris

Main Features: JVM support, integration with Oracle WebLogic server, support for Oracle Database and Glassfish 3.1, HTML5 editing, Swing and GUI development as well as other languages such as C++ and PHP. Other features include code highlighting, GUI editing, tooltip help, refactoring, code assist with drag-and-drop code generation.

Price: Free

Our Take: Netbeans is a powerful Java IDE that is able to perform a multitude of tasks. There are a lot of options when it comes to integrating with other systems and plug-ins as well as help with using web services from sites like Google and Facebook. NetBeans is a great solution for open source development and contains many features that help with sharing project files as well as working with different version control systems. Downsides: there aren’t as many great plug-ins and as much language support as there is with other IDEs so you may want to check that the resources you need for your project will work with NetBeans.

JDeveloper

JDeveloper

Created: 1998

Developed by: Oracle Corporation

Current Version: 11.1.2

Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X & generic JVM

Main Features: Designed for the whole development process and has tools for lifecycle development. Visual WYSIWYG for HTML, JSP, JSF and Swing. Declarative programming features. Support for Java, XML, SQL, JavaScript, PHP and many others. Built in GUI editor, integration with Oracle’s ADF and J2EE framework. Other features include: refactoring, searching, versioning, integrating debugging and WebDAV support.

Price: Free

Our Take: For a developer that is wanting a tool that will work with them through the whole of the project, JDeveloper is a good choice. With the great team support and visual tools, JDeveloper creates a way for you to model, code, test and document all in one place. This IDE may not have all of the fancy and slick features of its competitors but it is definitely bringing something to the table they are not.

Remember that whether you are new to a language and looking for the right development environment or if you have had a chosen environment for awhile, it is best to keep your mind open. Advances and changes in development environment features can happen rapidly and you never know when you could be missing out on a great new way to work on your coding projects. Try giving some different environments a test-run to see what you have been missing!

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