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Eclipse & Intelij IDEA December 16, 2007

Posted by Andre Vellino in Java, Linux.

If there was a 12 step program for IDE addicts I might begin my weekly session with “Hello, my name is Andre and I’m addicted to Eclipse“. The truth is, I depend on Eclipse’s wizard dialogs, code-completion popups, and quick-fiixes for boken code. And yet I envy people who can use Emacs and “java” from the command-line. I even envy those who are addicted to other IDEs such as Intelij’s IDEA from JetBrains.

So I thought I’d try IDEA for a few days. There are some really outstanding things about this IDE – its code analyser from Inspection Gadgets is one. Built-in support for Hibernate and the Google Widget Toolkit is another. It even has a built-in IM client for chatting with other IDEA users. But overall, it is the clarity and simplicity of the UI in combination with a rich and coherent set of features that makes it shine. Everything is right there where you expect it and it behaves consistently.

Comparing IDEA and Eclipse feature for feature would probably not be a fruitful excercise. I don’t doubt for a second that you can make Eclipse do anything that IDEA does and visa versa – I bet there’s even an Eclipse IM client plugin somewhere.

But the major strength of Eclipse (one reason I’m an addict) is also it’s greatest weakness – flexibility and modularity. It’s such a ubiquitous development environment that there are plugins for just about everything you may care for: J2ME, J2EE with Hibernate, Profiling & Code Analysis, Testing Platforms, Swing UI … you name it. Eclipse has become like Linux – everyone picks it up and configures it with different plugins / defaults / splash screens – it has become everything to everyone. And in the process, like Linux I think, it has lost (some of) it’s identity.

But, despite a compelling alternative, I’m still stuck on Eclipse.  Perhaps it’s because I enjoy being mollycoddled.


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