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News: Why we dropped Eclipse in favour of IntelliJ

  1. The debate over development tools has to be as old as the software engineering itself. Whether it will be a build tool, VCS or an IDE, you will always have different preferences. But my preferences have recently changed and I would like to elaborate on our move from the Eclipse to IntelliJ.

    It all started with a simple shortcut named ALT+ENTER. Based on the documentation it is not doing much – just using the suggested quick fix. But this feature is backed by something that makes many other IntelliJ features so much more pleasing to use.

    Say hello to smart indexes. Whatever the JetBrains guys are doing under the hood, their indexing is blazingly fast and supports different content. This benefits of the fast indexing are paying off in several different usability features:

    • As-you-type code smells and warnings. In Eclipse you have to launch the analyzing manually, in IntelliJ you will have the feedback on those immediately.
    • Code completion and code generation support offered is orders of magnitude better due to the very same indexes.  I guess you all remember the infamous java.awt.List autoimport on Lists which took years to be removed from the “top recommendation”. No such annoyances when using IntelliJ.
    • The fixes offered by the ALT+ENTER make sense in so many occasions that it already starts to frighten me. On some cases I have suspected they have an Amazon Mechanical Turk watching me as I type – the recommendations are just so good.

    To see the other reasons behind the migration, read the full article from this blog post.

    Threaded Messages (10)

  2. its not easy[ Go to top ]

    eclipse also has many good points over other IDEs.

    some of the points raised here are not really valid or make sense to some people not all. 

    not everyone uses every feature you feel is "important" to you. 

    and dont forget eclipse is free with tons of plug-ins that others dont have. :)

     

     

  3. free vs commercial?[ Go to top ]

    It's not just free vs commercial. There are other free IDEs out there. Using Eclipse at work, and it really sucks on large projects. Some show-stoppers for me:

    - task management is laborious at best; UI is blocked for ages on some dumb operations, e.g. save a file and it sometimes rebuilds a lot of stuff for minutes, blocking everything in the meantime

    - no native maven support; there are plugins to read what it understands from your pom's and synchronize that to its proprietary configuration files, but it really doesn't work well and doesn't understand all of your config; forget most plugins, code generation in other phases, ...; you end-up having a project that builds differently in eclipse, that's not always synchronized etc.; the only real way to build a maven project is to run maven, all other IDEs seem to have found that out

    It looks more like a bunch of plugins written independently and of various quality, than like an IDE.

    Opened the same project in Netbeans, which I've been using for all my other projects. Works perfectly without additional config.

    I've even used jdeveloper some years ago. Worked interestingly well. Switched to Netbeans due to licensing problems, but it was really a nice product, except that we were under the impression that we were the only users in the world ;-)

    Intellij looks fine, but I still fail to see what I'd get in it that's not in Netbeans for free (in fact, at least on paper, I think that I get more in Netbeans than what I'd get in Intellij). Just prove me wrong on this one, I really have some interest in the product.

    To me, it's more like eclipse vs all others. Give me any IDE, *but eclipse*, and I can work happily.

  4. free vs commercial?[ Go to top ]

    I understand your points on "prove why I should pay when I can get good enough -- or maybe just as good -- for free," but as an industry, we do need to adjust our expectations on what value is and what is worth paying for. If a tool makes my life as a developer easier or better, or my efficiency or quality higher, then it has value -- regardless of its price. The question of how much one would pay for that value is going to differ widely, for many reasons -- and many of those reasons will be good reasons. And there are many options -- such as IDEs -- that are free. At the end of the day, though, by assuming that everything (in software) should be free, we have dramatically undermined our own value. The pendulum has swung too far.

    Peace,

    Cameron.

    For the sake of full disclosure, I work at Oracle. The opinions and views expressed in this post are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of my employer.

  5. free vs commercial?[ Go to top ]

    I actually tried to make two points.

    The first one was about paying for IntelliJ vs the same features (or more) for free in Netbeans. Netbeans has value for me, I'd pay for it if it was needed. I'd pay for IntelliJ if I'd see some added value. Which added value is there, behind the hype?

    My second point was that Eclipse is far behind *any* other option: IntelliJ, Netbeans, and even JDeveloper.

  6. free vs commercial?[ Go to top ]

    I never said its free vs. commercial only. if you read it carefuilly - its last line in my response and starting with "dont forget..."

    There are people who still love EMACS.

    few years ago there was nothing. it was visual cafe which had copied Visual studio. then Eclipse came along as god sent. Now we are looking for better and thats industry cycle.  

    So you should be careful with this kind of a post - everyone likes their own whoobi.! dont say yours is better than mine. :).  

    i m staying warm with mine ....

  7. Just subjective opinion[ Go to top ]

    Please do not forget, that post has just described our reasons why, after trying IntelliJ for about a week or so, we have stayed with it. These are subjective reasons, specific to our personalities, working habits and project at hand.

  8. Intellij is a beautiful ide, and, of course, better than Eclipse.

    On the other hand, we must not speak about "Eclipse", but about a particular distro.

    For example, RedHat's distro, jboss dev studio, is a valuable product, and the early version is free.

     

    Finally, here we see the endless debat: free and good, or commercial and super?

  9. On the other hand, we must not speak about "Eclipse", but about a particular distro.

    For example, RedHat's distro, jboss dev studio, is a valuable product, and the early version is free.

    Really? Some distros could be better, but it's basically the same software, with the same root design flaws: "background compiling" is not so background and can block the ui, maven is *not* natively supported, etc. Not usable for serious projects, in my opinion.

    Finally, here we see the endless debat: free and good, or commercial and super?

    Don't think that's the debate. There are free alternatives, Eclipse being the worst (and sadly still the most used) IDE in my opinion.

  10. Eclipse worst IDE[ Go to top ]

    I really have to jump in here, just to prevent any novices from running away with a wrong message. I have been using IDEs since the early 1990ies (starting with Smalltalk). I got real excited about IDEA when it first appeared in the early 2000s, and switched to Eclipse later on. I have been using Eclipse on a large scale (> 150000 LOCs, > 20 individual projects) application project, which also happens to use the underlying framework from Eclipse (RCP) as its basis. Recently, I have returned to IDEA because I followed Google's switch to the new Android Studio, migrating a  part-time non-profit Android project which I am maintaining.

    I must say that in my view Eclipse is still a very good choice as a project IDE, and also as a platform for Rich Client applications. Granted, there are plugins that are not well programmed and sluggish, but the general infrastructure is still one of the nicest pieces of (Open Source) software produced in the recent decades, and the IDE, to me at least, is very well usable on any kind of project. In fact, I think the underlying concepts are much more advanced than those of IDEA.

    my 2cts,

    Christian

    • The fixes offered by the ALT+ENTER make sense in so many occasions that it already starts to frighten me. On some cases I have suspected they have an Amazon Mechanical Turk watching me as I type – the recommendations are just so good.

     

    The only thing that is frightening _me_ is that - from the screenshot in your blog - you seem to think that "Replace '+' with 'StringBuilder.append' is a good advice in that case.