Choosing Your Java IDE

Popular JAVA IDEs in 2020
Popular JAVA IDEs in 2020

IDE that is, Integrated Development Environment is an essential tool for every programmer using Java. IDEs are heavily feature-oriented and hence, make Java programming much more convenient and constructive. Although there are many IDEs that are used by programmers and coders across the world, the three most preferred IDEs for Java are Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJ IDEA.

Choosing the right Java IDE depends on factors such as the nature of your project, your level of programming skills, and the process used by your development team. Whatever Java IDE you choose, it should allow you to freely edit, develop, debug, and test your systems, so that apart from a well-crafted code, you also have intelligent refactoring and code metrics.

So, let’s delve into the Java IDEs and know which serves what purpose!


Eclipse is a free open-source IDE that has long been one of the most popular IDE for writing in Java. Launched in 2001, Eclipse was a project of IBM developed to replace the Smalltalk-based IBM Visual Age family of IDEs. It is compatible with Windows, Oracle Solaris, Linux, and Mac OS X.

One of the most exceptional features of Eclipse is that it has a plugin design that allows it to be extended to other languages as well. These plugins support nearly hundred programming languages and over 200 application development frameworks. Another good thing about Eclipse IDE is that a project designed using this displays a model of its contents including the declaration of Java elements and the details about the type hierarchy along with references. The debug support feature of Eclipse runs both locally and remotely provided you use a JVM that supports remote debugging.  

Eclipse is primarily used for developing web, enterprise, desktop, and mobile applications.  


Initially launched as a commercial product in 1997, NetBeans IDE was bought by Sun Microsystems in 1999 and was released as an open-source IDE in 2000. The present version of NetBeans (8.1) is compatible with Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and Solaris.

Although NetBeans has fewer plugins than Eclipse, Oracle still considers it as the official IDE for Java 8. It offers great support for Java 8 as well as for the conversion of older codes. The editor, code analyzer, and converter tools of NetBeans allow programmers to upgrade applications to be compatible with new Java 8 language constructs (example: lambdas, functional operations, and method references). The end-to-end development design of NetBeans provides a convenient environment for secure and easy coding, testing, debugging, compiling, profiling, analysis, and deployment.  

NetBeans’ language-aware tool detects errors in real-time while you are writing your code and provides you with useful documentation popups and smart code completion ideas. The Inspect & Transform tool of NetBeans allows programmers to inspect their codebase, while automatically fixing the errors in the code. Furthermore, NetBeans has a variety of refactoring tools using which you can analyze your code and restructure the code without breaking it.

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ IDEA is the premium Java IDE that comes in two editions: free Community edition and the paid Ultimate edition. It was developed by JetBrains. While the Community edition is suited for JVM and Android development, the Ultimate version with additional features is designed to support web and enterprise development.

The Community version supports Java, Kotlin, Groovy, Scala, Maven, Gradle, SBT, SVN, Mercurial, and CVS. On the other hand, the Ultimate version supports Perforce, ClearCase, TFS, Git, SVN, Mercurial, CVS, JavaScript, and TypeScript. Some of the most helpful additional features of Ultimate edition are:

  • Spring MVC framework, Spring Integration, Spring Boot, and Spring Security.
  • Support frameworks like Node.js, Angular, and React.
  • Java EE support such as JSF, JAX-RS, JPA, CDI.

The most striking feature of IntelliJ is IDEA that is designed to provide an in-depth insight into your code with the help of developer ergonomics, built-in developer tools, and polyglot programming experience. IDEA offers “smart completion” of code by listing pop-ups of most relevant symbols best suited for your current code context.

Apart from these three IDE, there are also various lightweight IDEs available such as DrJava, BlueJ, JCreator, and Eclipse Che. Every IDE has its distinctive features, functions, and benefits. But, to fully utilize the features of any of these IDEs, you need to have a strong grip on the concepts of Java.

So, don’t wait any longer – hop on to Coding Ninjas where we cover the fundamentals of Java programming language in our online as well as offline courses. Oh, and if you’re confused as to which course to choose – online or offline, we recommend you read our article on the same.