Java is the most beginner-friendly language you can think of. It is also the most versatile one, used for software, web, and mobile development. To make the most out of Java’s functionality and almost unlimited range of features, developers rely on integrated development environments. These are dedicated platforms with development tools, libraries, and add-ons.
There are dozens of Java IDEs in the market. Testing all of them would take a long while – to increase the odds of finding the right one, developers need to narrow the selection down to the most popular platforms.
This post is a review of the most popular integrated development environments used in the Java community, their pros, cons, and main features.
Top 10 IDE For Java Developers
Using an integrated development environment helps software engineers work in line with best development practices, saves a lot of time, and reduces the number of code lines a developer has to write from scratch.
Most IDEs have a wide range of built-in tools that accommodate all development activities – front-end and back-end engineering, UX/UI design, and software testing. An integrated development environment is a universal workplace you can use for building projects of any scales across multiple domains.
Here are the top 10 Java integrated development environments:
Eclipse is a free Java-based environment designed for building cross-platform applications. The platform is widely used to support mobile, desktop, and web projects. Eclipse is known for extensive plugin support – there are hundreds of add-ons developers can integrate into the workplace. The integrated development environment is fully customizable – you can move tabs around to get used to Eclipse faster.
- Allows to manage a lot of files at once effortlessly;
- Built-in debugging suite;
- Easy-to-manipulate Git integration;
- Supports various database types.
- No in-depth SQL server management;
- Poor CSS support;
- Challenging remote documentation support.
The integrated development environment gained an extensive user base and is often referred to as the best Java IDE there is. Before downloading the tool, keep in mind that there are two packages. There’s a commercial (paid) license that offers in-depth editing tools and allows developers to fully customize the working environment.
There’s a free community version as well. It is quite feature-heavy as well – you can run debugging, unit testing, and code inspections, as well as refactoring the code multiple times. There is an interface builder, an XML, and a GUI editor.
Unlike Eclipse, IntelliJ is mostly used for Java and JavaSE programming. The tool gets the most praise from Android developers.
- Fully customizable interface;
- Plugin support;
- CI and UI kits integration.
- Inability to use the tool during indexing;
- Doesn’t offer as many plugins as Eclipse does;
- Takes up a lot of system space.
Android Studio is a tool designed to empower Android developers with software engineering and design tools – hence, Java developers can’t use it to develop products for PC or iOS. However, Android Studio is fully integrated with Java and is a go-to choice for most teams who need to develop a functional, scalable application.
Android Studio has a lot to show – it supports most device types, has a feature-rich interface builder, along with a testing toolkit for assessing the project’s usability, performance, and security. Since Android Studio is Google’s official tool, the IDE offers built-in Google Cloud integration.
- Highly functional Gradle build;
- Intuitive module-based structure;
- Easy-to-use interface designer;
- Slow build loading;
- No desktop support;
- No iOS support.
NetBeans is an official integrated development environment for Java 8. It is known for a straightforward modular structure – you will be able to build software products by connecting individual components – modules.
NetBeans is a cross-platform IDE – developers can run it on Windows, Linux, Solaris, and macOS. Apart from the platform’s standard functionality, development teams can extend the toolkit by integrating plugins into the workspace.
NetBeans offers comfortable Java, highlighting increasing the readability of the code.
- Automatically keeps network documentation up to date;
- A large device database – you can find models that are no longer in use;
- A wide range of automation tools.
- Lack of educational content;
- Challenging to update;
- The quality of integration varies by device.
Bluej is not one of the large-scale platforms reviewed above. Instead, it was designed for educational purposes and allowing business owners with little background in tech to create custom applications. Thus, Bluej makes up for functionality shortcomings with an easy-to-use interface.
The platform is fully Java-based and runs using JDK (Java Development Kit). Developers can see the class structure of the project, create new objects, and debug them. Although most features of the IDE are a basic, Bluej supports a powerful Java graphical shell.
- College textbooks use Bluej as a primary IDE;
- Cross-platform – runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
- Unfit for large-scale development projects;
- Uses a peculiar version of Java syntax;
- No code completion;
- No syntax highlighting.
jEdit is one of the most underrated IDEs in the industry. The platform is a feature powerhouse, with almost infinite extension possibility. Other than adding plugins, developers can record and execute macros – this way, they can automate the coding process and bring products to the market faster.
jEdit supports dozens of programming languages, offering responsive syntax highlighting and code completion. Developers can improve the working process using auto-indent, folding, and other code editing features.
jEdit has a wide special character database for UTF8 and Unicode characters.
- Consistent updates;
- Plugin and macros support;
- Cross-platform availability;
- Code highlighting.
- Fully Java-dependent;
- No extensive user base.
DrJava is another tool aimed primarily at CS students. Having said that, the IDE has a wide range of advanced features packed in a straightforward and intuitive interface. The platform has some unique features – for instance, users can enable interactive code evaluation.
Dr.Java offers a full development suite – there’s a debugging tool, an intelligent application editor, along with an interactive pane. The tool is free and runs under a BSD license.
- Fully guided interface;
- Exists as an Eclipse integration plugin;
- Has a shared interface for different operating systems.
- Limited features;
- Doesn’t support other languages than Java.
jGrasp is not a full-on integrated development environment – rather, it’s a tool for visualizing code structure, as well as runtime data structures. The tool enables CSD creation in Java, as well as other languages – C++, C, Python, Objective-C, and Ada. There are a built-in debugger and a separate Java workbench. You can create Complexity Profile Graphs as well.
jGrasp viewers can discern code structures automatically, thus facilitating the development process. Using the IDE, developers can ensure that lists, tables, and binary trees are properly displayed.
- Not cluttered with features;
- Encourages developers to use best coding practices;
- Widely used at colleges.
- No advanced features;
- Not used by professional developers.
JDeveloper is backed by Oracle. The IDE is free and a good universal fit for most projects – be it Java, JS, PHP, or SQL. The platform is an end-to-end development toolkit, with a robust debugging suite and an optimization environment. Developers can integrate JDeveloper with Oracle ADF to improve the efficiency of software engineering.
JDevelopers comes as three smaller subsets of tools – Studio Edition, Java Edition, and J2EE Edition. The IDE lays the groundwork for SQL Developer.
- Supports model-view-controller;
- Supports AJAX;
- Updates are constantly released.
- Bugs and crashes are common;
- Steep learning curve;
- No way to change the jQuery component of the IDE.
Although the similarities in the naming of MyEclipse and Eclipse integrated development environments are striking, you shouldn’t confuse the two. The former is a standalone platform for Windows, Mac, and Linux cross-platform development activities.
The tool offers Java developers advanced JS integrations and features. For instance, you can use the platform for Web 2.0 and Ajax tooling. There is a built-in Maven editor as well. MyEclipse has an advanced reporting suite that increases the readability of documentation.
- Cross-platform availability;
- Plugin and libraries support.
- A paid tool;
- No multilingual support.
Choosing the best IDE for Java development does not imply a one-size-fits-all solution. The platform that suits your tech skills and project needs will be the fittest one. Consider starting your journey in Java development with a basic IDE – Bluej or Dr.Java and moving onto Eclipse or IntelliJ as you progress in mastering the language.