JBuilder, Eclipse or IDEA? No contest...

A few days ago, I asked people about their experiences with JBuilder X and IntelliJ IDEA. I've since spent some time with JBuilder X Foundation and also gave Eclipse another try based on some of the comments I received on that post.

Your mileage may vary, but my experiences were:

  • JBuilder X has come a long way since JBuilder 6, which was the last JBuilder version I used. They still have quite a way to go before they catch up with IDEA though. While JBuilder has some useful refactorings, it's still nowhere near the amount of refactorings that are built into IDEA. Also, it's live error-highlighting is not even close to what IDEA does (you've got to respect an IDE that's smart enough to warn you against a potential NullPointerException if not all paths prior to a variable usage assign a value to that variable). To top things off, I encountered some screen redrawing issues in JBuilder where one line of code in the middle of my code-pane was only half-high at some point.
  • Eclipse has gotten many rave reviews, but for some reason just doesn't come natural to me. Things aren't were I expect them to be, or don't work they way I expect them to work. I'm sure I could get used to this, but it would take me quite a while before I'd be anywhere near as productive in it as I am in IDEA.
  • IDEA: while I agree with Hani's comments regarding the lack of innovation in IDEA 4.0 compared to 3.0, IMHO it's still the best Java IDE by far. If I had a personal license for 3.0, I'm not sure if I would be willing to pay for an upgrade, but since I previously used a company license for IDEA, I don't have the option of sticking with 3.0. As their personal license price point is very reasonable, I ordered a copy today.
The personal license offer expires today, so if anyone reading this is interested in purchasing IDEA, they'd better hurry or pay full price instead.

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Well, I did same as you did-bought a personal licence few weeks ago. After having to work with eclipse for a time, I just realize how every cent I spent on Idea was a good spent one...as for Hani, eh, he's doing it because he ..cares too much..as anyone else he doesn't want Idea to become bloated as Jbuilder is..wish you some good time with Idea...;-)

Posted by someone at January 15, 2004 2:45 PM

Everytime someone writes something interesting about eclipse, I give it another try and I don't know why. I'm not sure what I'm expecting to see has changed in the user interface. Heck there are still elements of VisualAge in eclipse and I could never get used to that IDE either. IDEA has a very natural feel for me

Posted by Kirk at January 16, 2004 2:29 AM

Well, they are making even more changes to Eclipse's UI as we speak (for version 3).
It's set of keys are completely customisable, it will soon have split level windows/complete color configuration, folding editor blah blah blah. Why pay when you get all this for nothing......

Posted by Jon at January 16, 2004 3:03 AM

First of all, ya'll gotta wait for 3.0 final. It's architecture is vastly changed, even though it looks pretty much the same. 3.0 not only is now built on a dynamically reloadable plugin architecture that I believe is vastly superior to IDEA, JBuilder and NetBeans open apis, they have added a ton of new features, better UI (or somewhat better anyway), and have a huge backing of major (and many more minor) vendors using or building upon the core for applications. Because of this you'll see a large number of free, and more commercial as well, quality plugins that are readily available. I realize IDEA and JBuilder also have a good set of plugins, my point is, with free comes the ability to more readily build upon it than having to pay money. IDEA is a darn good IDE, perhaps still better than any other for a while, but Eclipse will no doubt overtake all other IDEs within the next couple of years. I dont have any doubt of this due to the large number of developers flocking to it, using it, and extending it. Still, JBuilder for $1500+ is way outrageous in price. I know Borland has an infrastructure to keep supporting (employees, support, etc), but when IDEA is vastly better and costs way less, and even Eclipse is better in many areas and is completely free, I can't see, other than for the old corporate "they have support, free stuff doesn't" crap, why developers and corporations are staying with the expensive tools. Just like in sports you'll always have your die-hard fans as well as those that are just unwilling to try new things, out of fear of either liking it better or spending time to try it out. I tried netbeans several times, each time disliking it. I tried Eclipse and never went back, and honestly, I know I would love IDEA! I almost bought it until I found Eclipse, and to me, $400 is $400 more than I ahve to spend using Eclipse which does most things that IDEA does well, very good itself.

Posted by Kevin at January 16, 2004 2:22 PM

Also note that Eclipse 3.0 provides a platform for generalized application development. I have found the "RCP" ("rich client platform") to be an excellent foundation for prototyping and production work.

Posted by Jonathan Feinberg at January 16, 2004 9:35 PM

Great Article on SharpReader

Trackback from Dave S Sample Blog at January 20, 2004 2:50 PM

The latest Aurora build in EAP (1120) has been labelled as 4.0 Release Candidate 1. The end may be near.

Posted by Jason at January 23, 2004 7:17 PM

I have been using JBuilder X Foundation for a while, and it looks easy to use. But the main disadvantage is its slowness. Is there a free version for IDEA.

I want also to ask, whether using JBuilder X or IDEA, is there any independent developer making a living out of Java?

Posted by Alqtn at April 23, 2004 3:14 PM
This discussion has been closed. If you wish to contact me about this post, you can do so by email.