The key to choosing an IDE is selecting one that makes you as productive as comfortably possible. Here’s a brief overview of three alternatives to the IBM, Borland/CodeGear, and Sun NetBeans products discussed in this review.
Eclipse. If you don’t need the advanced features of RAD 7 or JBuilder, you might consider a vanilla version of Eclipse, which is available at no cost from eclipse.org. If you need a few advanced features, consider MyEclipse from Genuitec, which integrates many open source tools (including NetBeans’ Matisse) into Eclipse for $54 per year, per seat.
JetBrains IntelliJ. This Java IDE is considered by many developers to be the most productive and enjoyable environment for pure coding. IntelliJ is more intuitive than the IBM, Borland, or Sun IDEs, which is how it earns its great reputation. It has some unique features, too. For example, code rules run in the background, so errors or poor style show up as you code, and correcting the issues results in their immediate removal from the screen. These rules are more numerous than in any of the three products in this review. For sites that write a lot of Java code and do not need modeling tools, IntelliJ is a very strong, inexpensive option.
Oracle JDeveloper. JDeveloper is a feature-rich and free (but not open source) Java IDE available at Oracle's site. Like NetBeans, it is not based on Eclipse. It has strong support for enterprise features, including SOA and Web services and, of course, special integration with Oracle’s database technologies and OC4J Java application server.