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10 Reasons Why Java Rocks More Than Ever: Part 7 – Intelligent IDEs


This blog entry in the series is going to be quite short, since there’s really not that much to say besides a statement of fact: Java IDEs are the most advanced in the world!

As a reminder here are my top 10 favorite things about the Java platform again:

  1. The Java Compiler
  2. The Core API
  3. Open-Source
  4. The Java Memory Model
  5. High-Performance JVM
  6. Bytecode
  7. Intelligent IDEs
  8. Profiling Tools
  9. Backwards Compatibility
  10. Maturity With Innovation

A Whiff of Nostalgia …

It took a while for IDEs to become as good as they are today. I still remember when Omnicore CodeGuide was released around 1998, it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Instant project-wide error analysis of unsaved files: you could just stay in the flow and immediately see any compiler errors across all your files. CodeGuide and its bigger brother X-develop were my trusty companions for many years, until IDEs became commoditized.

When IBM released Eclipse for free as open-source, the whole IDE landscape changed. Commercial IDE vendors had a very difficult time to stay afloat and JetBrains seems to be the only one that’s still there today.

A Puff of Magic …

Fast forward to 2014 … we have three great fully integrated environments: NetBeans, Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA. Projects have become much more heterogenous and understanding a single language really doesn’t cut it anymore.

Thanks to low-level architectures built for efficient abstract syntax tree and code dependency handling, these complex environments are handled very well in all available IDEs. Standard project management tools like Maven are fully integrated and are replacing proprietary formats, allowing developers to easily collaborate on the same project with different tools.

Today, you get free and open-source access to all the core IDE features, while plugins enhance the feature-set to the next level. It’s quite dazzling that such advanced creation tools are community-driven and freely available to everyone that wants to build software.

Whether you fancy the amazing HTML 5, dynamic language and Maven support of NetBeans, the versatility and scope of the Eclipse platform; or the smart code completion, intentions, database viewer or dark theme of IntelliJ … each one is just as capable as the other and it’s really a luxury problem to have to chose between them.

A Splurge of Knowledge …

At ZeroTurnaround, we’re very interested in how tools make you more productive and have already published a detailed report about Eclipse. I’ve heard rumors about colleagues taking a deep dive into IntelliJ IDEA with the aim of publishing their findings. If you’re a fan of NetBeans and would like to share its uniqueness with your fellow developers, do let us know, RebelLabs is always looking for new writers and contributors.