Choosing your Java IDE

Compare Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJ IDEA for features, usability, and project size and type

Updated: December 2018.

Every Java developer needs a programming editor or IDE that can assist with the grungier parts of writing Java and using class libraries and frameworks. Deciding which editor or IDE will best suit you depends on several things, including the nature of the projects under development, your role in the organization, the process used by the development team, and your level and skills as a programmer. Additional considerations are whether the team has standardized on tools, and your personal preferences.

The three IDEs most often chosen for server-side Java development are IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, and NetBeans. These aren't the only choices, however, and this review will include some lightweight IDEs as well.

For this roundup, I did fresh installations of IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate 2018.3, Eclipse IDE 2018‑09 for Java EE Developers, and Apache NetBeans (incubating) IDE 9 on a Mac. I also checked out several open source Java projects so that I could test all of the IDEs on the same projects.

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