For years Eclipse has been the most used IDE among Java developers — even as much as two thirds of them use it. But IntelliJ IDEA has been gaining a lot of ground as well lately, no doubt thanks to the free Community Edition that first appeared a couple of years ago. NetBeans holds the third spot in the popularity list and in 2012 made strong gains compared to our data from 2011 – a nearly 80% increase in usage among those surveyed. MyEclipse continues to maintain a solid niche among happy customers, and RAD continues to release new versions for their core market.

Every IDE has a base of ardent followers who swear by it and claim it to be superior to all the others. Is there any objectivity in such claims? We think it’s all very subjective. The IDEs are very similar in their core functionality, but each has some minor or major details that are different or that the others lack. Perhaps the best reason to prefer one over another is being used to one and knowing all the shortcuts by heart.

If you make a switch to another IDE, you might get used to it after a few months, but huge gains in productivity will likely not happen. The key to achieving high productivity with an IDE is to get to know all the ins and outs of the one you are already comfortable with, especially knowing all the keyboard shortcuts.

In any case, we wanted to give a quick look into what has happened in 2012 in the IDE space, and help you think about what features and improvements you want to see in 2013.

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