Java IDEs - How do they stack up?

by Shashank Tiwari

The March 26, 2007 issue of InfoWorld has reviewed a bunch of Java IDEs and passed its latest judgment. The report is accessible online at

There are 2 main conclusions - (1) Eclipse base IDEs are doing better than those not based on it and (2) Borland's JBuilder 2007 is the best IDE in the market today.

While the Eclipse vs. NetBeans debate has surfaced again and again in the past, it seems like the current trend is that Eclipse has been re-categorized as a framework rather than an IDE and specific implementations or aggregation of plugins based on the Eclipse framework are the ones being compared with NetBeans.
Also, the InfoWorld review has praised NetBeans without giving it that many credits. It has been specifically mentioned that the version 6.0, which is in beta, promises to be a great option.
Towards the end three alternatives, to the IBM, Borland and the NetBeans IDEs, are also enlisted. These are Eclipse, as such, (perhaps the MyEclipse distribution), IntelliJ and Oracle's JDeveloper. IntelliJ is praised as being a great IDE for pure coding.

The article includes a tabular comparison of the three main IDEs it evaluates. The table is a good way to quickly assess the capability of the IDEs and perhaps one could use it to quickly pick a suitable IDE for ones needs .


2007-03-27 13:20:07
Comparing Java IDEs?? They didn't even mention Jetbrains IDEA, which is the best code-oriented tool on the market.

JBuilder 2007, an Eclipse-based mashup of 3rd-party plugins listed at $2000, is a winner? They don't know what they are talking about. Seems that they are more focused on UML diagramming features than anything else. This is not what makes a good IDE.

In my usual 10-hour day with a Java IDE, I'm doing 7 hours in IDEA (work), and the rest in NetBeans 6.0 (personal projects). I'm faster in IDEA, because it has better editor and code navigation.

I've spent a couple of months working with Eclipse/MyEclipse - not a bad tool, but lacks polish. It's biggest strength is also it's biggest weakness: a multitude of 3-rd party plugins which are half-finished and don't play nicelly together (GUI-wise - that's what IDEs are about).

But when you work on a big enterprise project (>12 months, >10 developers, >1000 classes), IDEs are not the ones saving your day (and paycheck). What is saving you (most-to-least important) is:
1. Good architecture
2. Unit tests
3. Javadoc

Paul Browne
2007-03-28 12:36:38
I'm surprised that you haven't got more 'but *my* IDE is the best' comments :-)

Paul , Technology in Plain English

2007-03-28 14:36:50
Eclipse usually wins the Yelling war, but Netbeans is better.
and where's Oracle's JDeveloper?
2007-03-29 03:54:48
In a world where no one has objective eyes upon the tools we use, I really wonder how one can define which one is "better".
2007-03-29 07:42:05
> it seems like the current trend is that Eclipse has been
> re-categorized as a framework rather than an IDE

Actually, we've always considered Eclipse to be framework and API first and IDE second. In fact, when you download Eclipse from, what you're downloading is an SDK (Software Development Kit). The idea is that you'd use this to build Eclipse products (like an IDE).

In the future, this may change. The packaging project is going to produce one or more "IDE" configurations which will likely not include things like the plug-in development environment and the source code.


2007-03-29 21:20:51
Eclipse is the only Java IDE with readable anti-aliased fonts. The other IDEs -- Netbeans and IDEA -- really suck when it comes to basic screen clarity.

I've used IDEA 5.1 and 6 and the product is getting too complex for its original UI design. I wouldn't buy these products again. Slightly nicer than Eclipse, but not as powerful.

Eclipse doesn't work quite as interactively as IDEA, but it works and there are far more tools for it vs. IDEA. Eclipse is also available as a software platform and IDEA is not, so learning Eclipse has more upside.

NetBeans is the odd IDE out. I don't know what it is good for. It excels at nothing and is even less supported than IDEA. The UI is the worst of all the Java IDEs.

All in all, I would have to say there is no GREAT Java IDE. Eclipse, a B- of an IDE, is the best available, IDEA, a solid C, second, and NetBeans, a fading D-, a distant last.

2007-03-30 06:23:25
Netbeans is the most promising ide out there. Use the latest 6.0 m8 and get a 100% ide. Who said Netbeans is not antiliasing fonts ? If you using Java 6 it is turned by default in Netbeans. 2007 belongs to netbeans !.
2007-03-30 17:01:58
I did say READABLE anti-aliased fonts. Because Eclipse leverages the host OS anti-aliasing, it looks good. Java anti-aliasing, on the other hand, looks fuzzy. So we have IDEA and NetBeans 6 that looks fuzzy and lame compared to Eclipse. Yes, that is using JVM 6 too.

The entire NetBeans 6 experience looks like it was made by morons. Selecting a theme, for instance, only applies to part of the UI, not the entire UI. So you get some things that are black-on-white text and other things that are color-on-black text. The UI on the whole is haphazard and slow. And that is just the easy stuff. There is a reason that NetBeans 6.0 gets the D-. There is no reason, no value proposition, for NetBeans. Sun and Sun's customers would be better served if NetBeans were put on SourceForge and abandoned.

Delphi's Ghost
2007-03-30 18:40:31
In general, we found netbeans to be a more wholesome experience, download the IDE, install 2 of the 4 major plugins for JEE dev, and the visual web tools and you're off.

Unfortunately, they shot themselves in the foot with a crappy visual editor which kind of takes over the whole project structure and JSF tool choice.

Eclipse on the other hand really is a poor choice. I spent 30 minutes downloading a bunch of plugins and noticed no difference at the end of it.

I've found that Java IDEs really suck from the point of view that as soon as you add another framework in the mix, the IDE is clueless. I.e. JSF, it looks in the faces config for the beans for auto completion, but as soon as you add spring, and the spring variable resolver, it doesn't know what to do. Ditto with seam.

Crappy IDEs are the reason we're back to considering .net, I'll miss the refactoring goodness in the Java IDEs though.

2007-04-01 05:13:01
Yep, there is built in support for JEE5 development in Visual Studio 2007, the IDE of choice for Java developers in the year of 2007.
2007-04-03 13:02:44
I read these evaluations, and my mind drifts........

(fuzzy dream sequence transition)

"Nobody expects the IDE Inquisition!"

"Our chief weapon is EMACS...EMACS and Ant...Ant and EMACS.... Our two weapons are Ant and EMACS...and Google.... Our *three* weapons are Ant, EMACS, and Google...and CVS.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as Ant, EMACS.... I'll come in again."