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IntelliJ IDEA vs. Eclipse vs. NetBeans: my personal experience...

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This article is about best IDE which you can find for the money - IntelliJ IDEA. But before I will describe the goodies of the latest version and explain why people pay for it, I would like to say a few words about programming with Notepad...

Last century was popular to write programs with Notepad or similar simple text editors. On Internet you could find hundreds of sites which were very proudly informing you: "This site is designed with Notepad". Many people were proud that they could keep in the head all small details of HTML language. I used to design FrontPage, but then I discovered that it was quite buggy - produced very bad html code. So, I found other powerful tools that saved me hundreds of hours.

I never could understand why people would like to spend much time on very routine operations. Even more: they were proud that they did it, it was difficult and almost impossible, but they succeeded and now you see it - my site is here!

Very similar situation was with Java and C++ programming. A lot of people struggled with notepad and unfriendly command line Java compilers: error messages that they produced sometime were very difficult to understand.

Fortunately this time is passed, you can not find anymore those sites with Notepad logo.

The reason is simple and always was clear for me: they did not stand out a competition!!! They simply become extinct. How can you keep, for example my site http://JavaFAQ.nu consistent and up to date? Do it daily with just notepad? No way!

The same with Java - if you program for money, not for your own sake you should forget about notepad, until you are Java Guru! If Java programming is your job- you need modern tools, which will increase efficiency and productivity of your daily work with Java programming by hundreds percents!

It is funny to own retro car, but you can not drive it to your job daily, help your family without working with it a few hours a day. Instead of laying on your sofa, you will lay under that retro car, trying to fix all possible problems.

Writing programs with notepad is the same. You will spend your time not on actual Java programming, but on a code maintenance. Modern IDEs compile your code on the flight and highlight immediately all errors and even more - warns you about possible troubles that can arise during run time. There is no way to do it with Notepad. That's why it is no future for Notepad in Java programming.

Today probably just novices have not heard about IDE - Integrated Development Environment.

Most famous IDEs in Java world today are Eclipse, NetBeans and IntelliJ IDEA.

Eclipse is probably most famous one! Extremely flexible and configurable, has thousands plugins and it is free. Although you can find commercial ones. From my experience I could give it 5 ... 5-... Why? Because of complexity to use it from the scratch, finding all necessary plugins and make them working stable. I tried a few times to start to use Eclipse, but always switched back to IntelliJ IDEA. The problem I had was not so specific - I just wanted to use Eclipse for JSP design. Free plugins, which I found could not even close to come to features of IDEA.

Although there was another problem, due to its extremely high popularity Eclipse caused a flood of plugins on The Internet. Every small and big company, programming team and standalone programmer decided to add theirs 5 cents to Eclipse development - developed their very own stuff.

For me it was difficult to navigate through this plugins crowd and I gave up. I believe that exist good places where people will explain every my question and make everything working. But I need IDE to program my JSPs and not fix/search all the problems with Eclipse. Next time I will do that, but now I am busy with another things, like writing this article Smile

From my point of view, the chosen name - Eclipse - slightly reflects the situation: I got blinded (exactly like under Sun eclipse) by wide choice of plugins Smile

NetBeans I have not used much, just tried... One thing I got confused - the name. I directly felt that it is not best name which was chosen. Two words Net and Beans - both said me: it is not for you! You are not writing Net applications and not use beans. My first impression of the name was that this IDE for those who works with J2EE. And there is no room for those who works with just Classical Java. I was not right of course, but this impression is still in my head: it is not for you! Anyway, all features I have seen in this tool looked useful Smile. I can not say more about NetBeans...

And last one, I am stuck to, is IntelliJ IDEA. I use it more than two years. I got advised by one consultant when we worked together and he said that IntelliJ IDEA is solid product. I gave it a chance and still do it. The most remarkable thing that it is not free!

We have seen many IDEs for Java during last years, almost all of them are gone. But this is surviving and growing. The piece of success that it is from new European Union country where labor force is probably cheaper. While Eclipse and NetBeans are completely free, the guys from JetBrains (company which develops IntelliJ IDEA) succeeding to sale it!

The one of key to success I believe is the quality of Czech beer (JetBrain's headquarter is in Prague)! R&D is done and continues in St. Petersburg, Russia and you know them, Russians - they can hack everything in the world.

Let's look at the IntelliJ IDEA, latest version. Currently it is 5.1.

In this article I will mostly describe new features, since older IDEA 4.x was quite similar to other IDEs. Most important improvements for me I marked with word New.

JSP support New

HTML and XHTML support New

CSS support

I18N support New

Code Inspections New

Debugger  New

JavaScript Support New

Quick definition lookup New

Enhancements in J2EE support New

J2ME support

Refactorings and Search

Code Analysis

Enhanced Open API

Plugin development support New

Version Control Support


Project Views


Code Assistance

Formatter and Code Style

Project and Settings

XML support

This is just very my short overview of IntelliJ IDEA and detailed features description I will give you in Part 2 of this article.

To be continued...

Disclaimer: English is not native language for me and I appreciate if you correct my errors in a friendly way Smile

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