When coding a program in Java, deciding on the language to use is only half the battle. The programmer must decide which IDE (or integrated development environment) works best for the job. The undertaking of large projects in Java requires the use of an IDE.
The right IDE can perform invaluable tasks like decompiling files. Usually, the IDE includes a code editor, a Java compiler (which is usually faster than the compiler included with Java), and a debugger. The popular comparison of “IntelliJ vs Eclipse” deserves a thorough discussion.
These tools are accessed through a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that helps coders finish tasks quickly and efficiently. A competent IDE will help a coder immensely when dealing with any programming challenges.
Two of the most well-known Java integrated development interfaces out on the market are Eclipse and IDEA. While the two IDEs couldn’t be more different in many respects, both development spaces have positive and negative attributes that affect a Java project developed within them.
This article will examine both IDEs in depth to consider which development space, IntelliJ vs Eclipse, is right for your project.
First, let’s examine Eclipse. Created back in 2001, Eclipse was one of the first IDEs developed in Java. This IDE is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) program for Java. Eclipse is open-source, which is great news for Java programmers on a budget.
At least to an extent, open-source software is generally free to all users. Even better, anyone with a computer and some expertise can create plug-ins or write code to implement new features or make the IDE run more efficiently.
In other words, while an “official” Eclipse update is released every June, programmers are continually writing plug-ins for the IDE. Considering all of that support, it’s highly unlikely that a bug or issue that a programmer has with Eclipse would be unsolved for long.
Eclipse has a number of other features that make it worth considering. For example, one helpful feature is “UI Monitoring.” How many times have programmers experienced a system slowdown or even a system hang when programming? With Eclipse, you can monitor just what process is causing the problem and can easily cancel it if necessary.
A new feature for this year’s Eclipse update is expanded Rust support, along with support for building Java 10 and Java EE 8 based applications out of the box. A multitude of improvements to themes have been included.
Eclipse has excellent Git support. Instead of having to drop to the command line in order to use Git Flow, you have access to all the features right from the Eclipse UI.
If you don’t know what Git is, you should. Git is the most popular version control software in the world. It was originally developed as version control for UNIX and has mushroomed into something bigger.
Git is easy to use, is lightweight, and basically ensures that every member of your team is on the same page. In short, it’s a good idea to use Git on a large project, and the fact that Eclipse is so compatible with it is wonderful.
Despite all the pros of the program, there are some issues with Eclipse that need to be taken into consideration. First of all, due to Eclipse’s architecture, it is usually slower and less responsive than other IDEs.
Eclipse compiles in the background while you’re working. This is great when it comes time to compile the program. The environment can seem sluggish while coding because of this. You should remember this lag when considering Inellij vs Eclipse.
These features are plug-ins and do not come pre-installed. You don’t need to install the plug-ins and have them take up memory if you have no intention of using them.
However, if you do choose to install the plug-ins, you have to be careful. Eclipse plug-ins can conflict with each other. If two plug-ins cause a significant conflict, the entire programming environment may freeze or crash.
Also, if the coder installs too many plug-ins, Eclipse can get bogged down and become practically unusable. Make sure to use plug-ins with prudence and restraint.
IDEA has few of the issues Eclipse does. Also developed in 2001, this IDE has been available for quite a while. Jetbrain, formerly known as IntelliJ, mainly developed IDEA as one company. However, Jetbrain has made a version of IDEA open-source, so that users can try it and alter it for free.
Please note that Jetbrain does charge for the IDEA Ultimate Edition, which includes a number of web applications and opens the number of languages IDEA uses. The price of the Ultimate Edition varies but can be high. However, as Javaworld points out, the expense can be worth it.
Make sure to check recent pricing on the Jetbrain website before you opt for the Ultimate Edition of IDEA as your IDE solution for Java. Pricing can be another factor in the IntelliJ vs Eclipse decision.
If you decide to use Eclipse, you should be comfortable with participating in forums to get answers to questions. Most programmers are used to doing this by now, but occasionally, going on forums to get responses can be a bit troublesome. When looking at IntelliJ vs IDEA, this tendency is another positive for IDEA.
IDEA also has plug-ins, but they are not as numerous or as useful as those available to Eclipse users. However, as adherents of IDEA point out, the base development environment in IDEA has functionality that can only be imparted by a plug-in when using other environments.
IDEA’s environment runs faster than Eclipse. IDEA generally does not have any issues with the plug-ins that are available to it. There is no need to worry about plug-ins having conflicts or even crashing the development environment as you would in Eclipse. IDEA does not compile in the background as you code, which also helps it run smoothly.
Another benefit to using IDEA is that documentation tends to be fairly easy to find and up-to-date, due to the fact one company manages it. Meanwhile, with Eclipse, documentation may lag implementation of features by several months.
IDEA also includes Git integration, and some Git-specific features are especially noteworthy. For example, when working with Git, it’s much easier to find files with merge conflicts than it used to be.
IDEA groups these files under a Merge Conflicts mode for each changelist. All you have to do to fix any issues caused by a merge conflict is to click the Resolve action link. Clicking will open the Files Merged with Conflicts dialog, and you will be able to fix the merge conflict.
The latest version of IDEA aids the user in helping to resolve Git conflicts. It now displays Git branch names in a Files Merged with Conflicts dialog when you perform a pull, merge, or rebase. When using this dialog, you may group files by directory, which should come in handy if there are multiple files merged with conflicts.
Another feature for IDEA to note is a preview panel for Extract Method refactoring. This preview allows you to see what the results of your refactoring will look like before confirming the changes. Refactoring can be extremely useful when trying to achieve an easy-to-read code base. If you have a lot of duplicated fragments in your code, previewing your Extract Method refactoring can save a lot of time and hassle.
Despite the many positives included, IDEA is seen as lacking in plug-ins. If there is a specific functionality that you need for a particular Java project, you may want to check and make sure it is supported before choosing to use IDEA.
IntelliJ vs Eclipse? You Choose
As you can see, both Jetbrain’s IDEA and Eclipse are valid IDEs for programming in Java. However, they do have very different strengths and weaknesses.
When considering IntelliJ vs Eclipse, keep in mind that Eclipse is well-supported and has been open-source for much longer than IDEA. Its plug-ins provide flexibility that IDEA still can’t match, even though the makers of IDEA recently made it open-source as well.
However, Eclipse’s documentation lags its latest release. Depending on the plug-ins chosen, Eclipse can run slowly compared to other IDEs.
IDEA, however, tends to run faster than Eclipse does. Documentation is generally up-to-date, which is an advantage for anyone who doesn’t have time to go on forums to get answers to questions.
IDEA doesn’t have as many plug-ins as Eclipse does. However, according to the internet, IDEA is more stable than Eclipse. For these reasons, if considering IntelliJ vs Eclipse, you would do well to choose Jetbrain/IntelliJ’s IDEA as your Integrated Development Environment for your next project.