Engineering choices

Eclipse, NetBeans or IntelliJ: Which is the best Java IDE?

Coman Hamilton
Ninja

Eclipse’s Luna release brought a range of interesting new functions –– but how does the Java IDE stand up to rivals NetBeans and IntelliJ?

For quite some time now, Eclipse has had a thorn in
its IDE. With NetBeans and IntelliJ ever at its heels, the Eclipse
development environment has been battling to hold sway over the
Java community. It’s about time we compared the big three in Java
IDEs.

Over on JAXenter.de,
the German Java community has voted on how Eclipse stands up
against the competition. Only 21% of developers believed the Luna
release has re-established Eclipse as the best Java IDE in the
world. And just over a quarter of participants (26%) would say that
Eclipse and its competitors are generally the same, and that each
software has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Like in the Windows vs Mac vs Linux debate, it seems
that most devs have picked one IDE and are sticking firmly to it.
The results make it pretty clear that Eclipse’s Luna hasn’t quite
won back the entire Java community.

Eclipse: More than an IDE

While IntelliJ IDEA had already long since delivered
support for Java 8 (albeit slightly rudimentary), Eclipse struggled
to catch up with Java 8
support
for its much-awaited
Luna release
. On top of its new Java 8 features, Luna blinged
out with a brand new ‘Dark Theme’ which lets users change the IDE’s
background hue – but that’s also nothing that would impress anyone
working with NetBeans and IntelliJ IDEA.

The latest update has brought Eclipse up to an
impressive 76 individual projects – from software modelling to IoT
tools and even runtime projects. Beating that in mind, you might
say Eclipse is less of an IDE and more of a technology platform and
open source community.

SEE ALSO: How Eclipse has changed in the past year

Being slow off the mark to adopt Java 8 functions is
relatively insignificant when compared with rough times Eclipse had
with the infamous
Juno release
and its frustrated users. In spite of these
troubles, Eclipse makes up for its vices with a vibrant community
of developers and a wide range of plugins.

IntelliJ IDEA and NetBeans

In contrast to Eclipse, there’s no doubt about what
exactly IntelliJ IDEA does. Since it’s developed by one single
company (JetBrains), there’s somewhat less community participation.
But that also means that its built-in features are far more
cohesive. Eclipse can easily become confusing with its endless
plugins built by various community members. IntelliJ IDEA could add
a further feather to its cap when Google selected it as the basis
for Android Studio – the new development environment for
Android.

SEE ALSO: The top 10 NetBeans features according to its users

Right in middle, between Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA, is
NetBeans. Previously part of the Sun development environment,
NetBeans slipped into the hands of Oracle, but has managed to hold
onto its faithful community. NetBeans features platform functions
for various extensions, and yet it still provides a clearly framed
functionality. The software also has a head start on other IDEs
with its JavaFX and HTML5 features.

Each to their own IDE

When it comes to Java IDEs, developers are spoiled for
choice. Three free services battling each other to provide the best
functions and services – it’s something that other tech communities
can only dream of.

Like ninjas vs pirates, deciding on the world’s best
Java IDE is purely subjective – it all depends on what you need. A
swashbuckling, if sometimes chaotic, collection of plugins or a
stealthily integrated functionality?

Author
Coman Hamilton
Before becoming Editor of JAXenter.com (S&S Media Group), Coman completed an M.A. in Cultural Studies and wrote for numerous websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies. // Want to submit a story? Get me at coman[AT]jaxenter.com or linkedin.com/in/comanhamilton
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