InfoWorld review: Top Java programming tools

Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, NetBeans, and Oracle JDeveloper continue Java's tradition of rich and diverse development tools

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Part of the benefit of the IDE-as-backplane evolution is support for other languages. These IDEs support the languages commonly used with Java applications (JSF, HTML, CSS, XML, and so on). Some provide support for JVM scripting languages (such as Groovy and JRuby), languages that are outside the Java domain (such as C/C++ and PHP), and modeling (UML). The following table shows the major languages supported by standard prepackaged versions of the IDEs or developed and made available by the main vendor or project.

Development language support in the Java IDEs

  Eclipse 3.6 JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA 9.0.3 NetBeans 6.9 Oracle JDeveloper 11g
C / C++ Yes No Yes No
Domain-specific languages Yes Yes No No
Groovy No Yes Yes No
JavaScript Yes Yes Yes Yes
JRuby No Yes Yes No
PHP Yes Yes No No
UML 9 diagrams 1 diagram No built-in support 7 diagrams

The next table shows that all of the IDEs provide excellent support for Java SE and for enterprise development. Their support for Android and Java ME development for handheld or embedded devices ranges widely, when looking at the releases as shipped by the IDE vendor or organization, not by third-party plug-ins. (If you were to include third-party products, Eclipse's Java ME support would improve.)

Development platform support in the Java IDEs

  Eclipse 3.6 JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA 9.0.3 NetBeans 6.9 Oracle JDeveloper 11g
Android Excellent Good None None
Java ME Poor Excellent Excellent Poor
Java SE Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Java EE Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent

In the rest of this review, I look at the products with special attention to ease-of-use and coding capability. I believe that those are the main factors determining the productivity and satisfaction of the users. Almost as important is the range of plug-ins. The report card reflects these preferences. I've included the weightings for each of these factors; if you disagree with my assessment of their importance you can easily rescore the products and come up with your own ranking.

Top Java programming tools: Eclipse 3.6

Top Java programming tools: JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA 9.0.3

Top Java programming tools: NetBeans 6.9

Top Java programming tools: Oracle JDeveloper Studio 11g (

Top Java programming tools: Other IDE options

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