Reinvigorated Java IDEs change the development landscape

Java IDEs have improved steadily over the last few years. Products from IBM, Borland, and Sun show just how far they've come

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Clearly, NetBeans has an unusual mix of features — some superbly implemented, others entirely missing. If the mix of features appeals to you, NetBeans is definitely your ticket. Not only is it free, but it is more responsive than the Eclipse-based products and easier to navigate, as it forgoes the “views” design embraced by Eclipse and simply uses windows. Also, NetBeans is frequently revved, enjoys a very active community, and benefits from a plug-in inventory second only to that of Eclipse.

To be fair, NetBeans is most disfavored by the timing of this review — the company is preparing version 6 of its IDE, which fixes many of my complaints, including the fonts and the runtime configuration. If you’re considering NetBeans, examine the version 6 beta currently available before making your decision.

Final roundup

So which of these IDEs should you choose? If you’re running IBM’s software stack or you have multiple languages spoken at your site, RAD 7 is your best bet — as long as you don’t need support for Java EE 5 or Java SE 6.

If you want an inexpensive solution or one that runs on Mac OS and Solaris (in addition to Windows and Linux), your choice is NetBeans. For all other situations, JBuilder 2007 is the clear choice — and a truly standout IDE.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Value (10.0%)
Features (40.0%)
Integration (20.0%)
Ease of use (20.0%)
Performance (10.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software 7.0 7.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 7.9
Borland/CodeGear JBuilder 2007 Enterprise Edition 8.0 9.0 9.0 8.0 8.0 8.6
Sun NetBeans 5.5 10.0 7.0 6.0 8.0 8.0 7.4
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