InfoWorld review: Top Java programming tools
Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, NetBeans, and Oracle JDeveloper continue Java's tradition of rich and diverse development tools
Top Java programming tools: Oracle JDeveloper Studio 11g (126.96.36.199.0)
Oracle's JDeveloper Studio is uniquely different from the other products examined here. It walks its own path and reflects the agenda of Oracle, rather than concerning itself with needs outside of Oracle's interests. Rather than viewing it as a free product that's closed source, it's more accurate to view JDeveloper as Oracle's internal development tool that it offers at no charge to anyone who might find it useful.
The Oracle agenda makes the product narrowly focused and thereby limited in some respects, but also very effective in other ways. The ties to the Oracle software stack can be seen in all aspects of the IDE, even down to the version number, which by fiat cannot move ahead of the version number of Oracle's core product, the DBMS. Given this wall, the version number extends into increasing levels of decimal points. In the process, the usual information regarding which releases represent important product upgrades is completely lost.
Installation is simple, but the final product is curiously registered on the system where it's installed with the telling name of "Oracle Fusion Middleware." Most people don't view IDEs as middleware, but this categorization underscores JDeveloper's substantial support for middleware development as part of its extensive enterprise capabilities. For example, JDeveloper provides lots of support for ADF (Application Development Framework), Oracle's preferred Java Server Faces (JSF) component set. It equally supports TopLink (the persistence layer Oracle bought from BEA before it acquired BEA entirely), and it offers extensive Java EE tooling including an embedded version of the WebLogic server that can be started and managed from within the IDE.
The Oracle-only approach works well within JDeveloper as long as you hew closely to the Oracle stack, top to bottom. For example, should you switch from Oracle's JSF components in ADF to those of another vendor, your ability to do WYSIWYG UI development becomes limited.
JDeveloper editor with a bottom panel for managing an instance of the WebLogic server.