Java is a popular programming language used by 9 million developers worldwide. It is the foundation for building systems like android and web applications, embedded processes, game development, and many more.
Like any programming language, Java needs a software environment to write and edit code. You can use either a code editor or an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to edit and run your Java code.
Java has different IDEs like Eclipse, Xcode, JDeveloper, etc. But which one is the best IDE for Java development?
This blog will discuss some of the best Java IDEs and provide you with our best pick. So, if you want to learn more, continue reading.
IDE and Code Editor
Just like how you use software like Notepad and Word to edit text, developers use code editors and IDEs to edit code.
As the name suggests, Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) are integrated with a compiler, a code editor, and a debugger, which makes them perfect for development. Since you can edit, run, and debug your code, developers choose IDEs over code editors.
On the other hand, code editors are lightweight software that allows you to edit and save your code. However, most of them do not have a compiler; hence you can not run your code in them.
Requirements for a Good IDE
What makes an IDE a good IDE?
Here are some essential features an IDE must possess:
Syntax highlighting is a must-have feature as it highlights the code with different colors and makes the code more readable.
If you are a beginner, you will see a notable difference between highlighted and non-highlighted code, as the code without highlights looks dull.
So keep this requirement in mind when selecting an IDE for Java.
Automatic Code Completion
No programmer knows all the syntax of a programming language. They google the syntax and related codes while programming.
Automatic code completion eases the work of programmers by suggesting the complete code or syntax as you write the program. So this is a feature your chosen IDE must have!
Extensions allow IDEs and code editors to add additional features. Since every application can require a different coding environment, you need to install plugins as your application demands.
So make sure you choose an IDE that allows you to install extensions.
Manual debugging is too much of a hassle. So an IDE needs to have good debuggers.
A good debugging tool saves a lot of your time and effort. So, always try to go for an IDE with an appropriate debugger.
6 Best Java IDEs
Considering the factors we mentioned in the earlier section, we have shortlisted six of the best Java IDEs:
- IntelliJ IDEA
- Apache NetBeans
Now, let's look at each one of them in brief.
1. IntelliJ IDEA
IntelliJ IDEA is the most popular and widely used Java IDE with a powerful compiler, robust plugins, and integration support.
According to a survey by Stack Overflow, out of 10,500 Java developers, 45% of voters use IntelliJ IDEA for Java development.
Here are some of the features of IntelliJ IDEA:
- It has a set of tools like smart completion and chain completion that provide suggestions to complete the code automatically.
- It has tools to enhance developer productivity, like cross-language refactoring, data flow analysis, language injection, etc.
- It supports built-in version control like Git.
- The "Write Once, Run Anywhere" paradigm applies to IntelliJ IDEA, as the code written in one operating system like Windows, Linux, and macOS can run on others.
Eclipse is another free, open-source, and popular Java IDE. According to Stack Overflow, 38% of voters use Eclipse for Java development.
Here are some of the features of Eclipse:
- It has Eclipse Marketplace, which contains a variety of plugins. In addition, it also has a Plugin Development Environment that allows developers to create their own features.
- It has code editing, debugging, browsing, and refactoring features.
- It is available for different operating systems and has a cloud edition, allowing developers to code in web browsers.
- It supports real-time validation of errors as you write the program.
- It allows you to set breakpoints that help you debug your code.
3. Apache NetBeans
NetBeans is the official IDE for Java 8, which is why it is one of the best IDE for developing mobile, web, and desktop applications.
According to Stack Overflow, 11% of voters use Apache NetBeans for Java development.
Here are some of the features of NetBeans:
- It allows you to create, debug, deploy and test your application from its own environment.
- You can format and define your own rules for all languages.
- Linux IDE offers readymade templates for script writing.
- It provides parameter hints if you type the dollar ($) symbol.
- It highlights source code syntactically and semantically, which lets you refactor code easily.
Xcode is an IDE developed by Apple for its products like iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Here are some of the features of Xcode:
- It has an inbuilt debugger, code autocomplete, and Graphical User Interface (GUI) builder.
- It is only used to develop Apple products.
- It is free to use.
- It is available in Cloud for Apple Developer Program members.
- It is lightweight and hence, has a fast response time.
- It provides an editor assistant that shows files like callers, header equivalents, etc.
BlueJ was initially created for educational purposes. Today, it is used for small-scale Java development. It is more suitable for beginners as it has an interactive and clutter-free user interface.
Here are some of the features of BlueJ:
- It shows UML charts of your project.
- It has handy features like an object bench, code pad, and scope coloring.
- It is straightforward, interactive, convenient, and easy to work with.
- It comes with a BlueJ textbook and teaching resources.
JDeveloper is a useful Java IDE offered by Oracle that allows you to manage the entire software lifecycle, i.e., coding, designing, debugging, optimizing, profiling, and deploying.
Here are some of the features of JDeveloper:
- It integrates with the Oracle Application Development Framework to simplify the Java development process.
- It can execute SQL queries.
- It has visual and declarative editors that allow developers to edit their applications from the coding document directly.
- It has a web development environment with drag-and-drop features to make application design easier.
What does Programiz Recommend?
At Programiz, we use Eclipse for Java development and recommend it for both beginners and professional developers.
Java is a challenging language to write code in. So its IDE must be capable of handling errors and helping you debug code efficiently.
Eclipse has real-time error validation, which warns you that the code might cause an error while coding. It also allows you to set breakpoints in between the program to troubleshoot errors.
Apart from that, Eclipse has Eclipse Marketplace, from where you can install varieties of plugins as your application demands.
Finally, it allows you to write code in web browsers, as Eclipse is available on the cloud edition.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which Java IDE is best for beginners?
BlueJ is a more suitable IDE for beginners as it is lightweight and designed for small-scale projects. If you want to avoid installing Java on your computer, you can try our online Java compiler.
2. Should I use Eclipse or IntelliJ?
Both IDEs possess the basic requirements to make them great for Java. However, we recommend you choose Eclipse for the following reasons:
- Eclipse is available in the cloud, so you can write code in web browsers.
- Eclipse has real-time validation of errors and better-debugging features, such as setting breakpoints for easy debugging.
- Eclipse has Eclipse Marketplace, which contains a variety of plugins.
- It also has Plugin Development Environment that allows you to create and customize plugins.
The aforementioned features are not available in IntelliJ, which is why we recommend Eclipse.
3. Which Java IDE is used in the industry?
According to Stack Overflow, 45% of 10,500 voters voted for IntelliJ IDEA, so we can say it is more prevalent in the industry.
4. What makes a Java IDE effective?
Here are the requirements to make a good Java IDE:
- Must have a syntax highlighting feature.
- Must have automatic code completion.
- Must have an extension to allow install plugins.
- Must have a proper debugging tool.
5. Which is the best Java IDE for Mac?
Xcode, a dedicated IDE from Apple, is the best Java IDE for Mac.
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