Time to delivery is critical for any business, process or project. And so are the quality and performance of the code written by a Software developer. If a developer has the best tools in his hand, then he can cope with the above challenges to a great extent. In today’s post, our focus is on the web development in Java and to acquaint you with the best Java IDE of our times.
You might be thinking, why Java and why are we talking about Java IDEs? Because still, it is the most popular programming language for the Web and used by a large percentage of Fortune 500 companies like Alphabet (formerly Google), Accenture, Intel, Target and so on. And Java/J2EE is a proven technology to build scalable web services capable of serving millions of users.
But creating best Java applications is not as easy as like cutting a cake. You need state of the art tools to turn your thoughts into reality.
Also, in IT firms which are handling large web-based projects and where Agile is the buzzword, a Java developer has a no. of roles to play. Not only he has to code but automate the acceptance use cases and keep track of the code coverage.
- NetBeans – The Best Java IDE Sponsored by Oracle [Freeware]
- IntelliJ IDEA – The Best IDE for Java Developers [Paid Java IDE]
- Eclipse – The Illustrious IDE for Java Developers [Freeware]
- Android Studio – A Java IDE Tailored for Android Developers
- JDeveloper – A Free IDE to Simplify Java Application Development
- DrJava – A Lightweight Development Environment for Java Programs
- JEdit – A Matured Code Editor for Java Developers
- MyEclipse – The Full Stack Java IDE for Web Development
- JCreator – A Slick IDE for Development in Java
- GreenFoot – The Online Java Instructor and IDE
Watch out Top 10 Java IDEs to for Quick Web Development
NetBeans is the best IDE for web development as of today. It is an IDE which is created by developers, for developers with the goal of making development as simple and efficient as possible.
Not only does it supports enterprise web applications but you can also use it to create mobile and desktop apps. And it allows you to reuse your project workspace on multiple platforms like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Solaris from Oracle.
NetBeans addresses most of the challenges a developer might face during the project lifecycle. It will let you manage all tasks starting from analysis, design, coding, debugging, unit testing, code coverage, source code control, and deployment. Moreover, you don’t need any plugin for these features as all of them are inherent in NetBeans.
Your code might have untracked bugs which are hard to find and can cause delays. But with inbuilt tools like static code analysis, integration of FindBug plugin can help you identify and fix complex issues in the code. Also, the NetBeans debugger gives you a free hand for stepping through the code, set breakpoints, add watches, take snapshots, and track execution.
Moreover, it comes with a powerful code profiler to assist in optimizing your application performance (speed and memory). So that you can build robust, reliable, and scalable Java and J2EE applications. Next, it also includes a visual debugger for enabling you to debug user interfaces without intervening in the code.
You might not want to miss on Maven which has got seamless support from NetBeans. Resolving and adding dependencies take just a couple of clicks to complete. It lets you skip from undesired downloading / rebuilding of indexes.
Let’s check out what else make NetBeans tops the Java IDE list.
NetBeans enables mobile app development with the help of frameworks like Cordova and PhoneGap. And it’s a joy to create mobile apps using these frameworks in NetBeans.
Also, with GlassFish and WebLogic, it’s easy to deploy any web app and test the end to end functionality. It infuses Java 8 support at the core and enables code suggestions to switch for-loops into Java 8 streams and lambdas.
NetBeans supports all popular Web application frameworks (Spring/Struts/Wicket) and libraries like PrimeFaces, RichFaces, ICEfaces.
IntelliJ IDEA is a slick, fast, and reliable tool for web development in Java. It is none other the featured tools development company called JetBrains who runs this product and kept it relevant to the market needs.
The company delivers it in two forms: Free community version and the Paid ultimate edition. The free version is to encourage students, teachers, and plugin developers. Whereas the paid version is for organizations developing commercial applications.
IntelliJ Community Edition
The free edition enables support for frameworks like Android, Swing, and JavaFX. It is also versatile in supporting programming languages like Java, Groovy, Kotlin, Scala, Go, Dart, Erlang and Python.
Also, the IDE is lightweight and brings a few other features like JUnit/TestNG test runners, debugging, code completion, code inspections, code refactoring, maven wizard, Ant, and a visual GUI builder.
You can even enjoy four types of version control systems which include Git/GitHub, SVN, Mercurial, and CVS. And there is Docker plugin to support the deployment of web apps. The free version also incorporates a Decompiler and a ByteCode viewer to perform Deep Analysis.
IntelliJ Ultimate Edition
For beginners, the free IDE has ample features to start web development in Java. More advanced users should prefer the ultimate edition to use the best of the features. Also, please note that this version includes everything available in the free version.
For world-class web development, you need Ultimate version as it integrates frameworks like Spring MVC, J2EE (JSF/JAX-RS/CDI/JPA), Grails, Griffin, React, Angular JS, Node.js, Django, Flask, CMS (Drupal/WordPress/Laravel).
It has additional version control support e.g. TFS, Perforce, ClearCase, and Visual SourceSafe. Also, there are plenty of options to customize your deployment strategy using Tomcat, TomEE, GAE, GlassFish, JBoss, WebLogic, WebSphere, Geronimo, Jetty, and Virgo.
To ramp up your builds, it has NPM, WebPack, Gulp, and Grunt support. And it adds tools like Diagrams (UML/Dependencies), Dependency Structure Matrix to improve quality.
Eclipse is a new age, cross-platform, open source and freely distributed IDE available for enterprise web development. It was IBM Software Group in 1998 who conceived of an IDE that could penetrate deep into the competitive IDE space and be a leader. And that’s what led to the inception of Eclipse as one of the best Java IDE for web development.
Interestingly, Eclipse is itself an example of best Java applications as it’s mostly written in Java. It was always meant to be a robust, full-featured, commercial-quality platform for developing modern web applications.
Eclipse has all essential features that an ideal Java IDE should have.
- Java 8.0 and 9.0 support
- Code refactoring, code editing with prompt validation, incremental compilation, cross-referencing, code suggestions.
- Integrated static code analysis
- Intelligent code completion and quick fix
- Excellent usability and performance
- Support for Win/Linux/Mac OS X
The latest release of Eclipse IDE is Neon till date. And it brought a lot of enhancements and feature addition to Eclipse IDE.
- The Java editor shows a default template for placing +ve/-ve null checks.
- It now helps you classify a security level for specific errors in the code.
- Code assist now supports substring patterns.
- Added ability to remove redundant type arguments.
- Brought in the ability to configure annotation-based null analysis to use multiple sets of annotation types.
- Debugger now accepts additional debug arguments and OS resources view allows attaching a process for debugging.
- Modeling saw big improvements in code generation, model editors, model comparison, and custom graphical editors.
You can see that there are plenty of time-saving features in Eclipse. You can even create custom code templates to boost your coding speed.
Android Studio is a modern IDE for out of the box Java and Android application development. It is relatively a new product which got released in the mid of 2013. Derived from IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio delivers the optimum turnaround on your design and code workflow.
The idea behind this tool was to accelerate the development process and help you create high-quality apps for any Android device. Also, when it wasn’t around, the developers had to rely on Eclipse and ADT plugin. Because of this, the Android OS was falling behind the competitors like Apple. And after Android Studio, Google saw a steep rise in Android popularity and apps usage.
Android Studio bundles a whole list of features that include intelligent code editing, debugging, unit testing, and code profiling. Let us look at each of them in a little more detail.
- Instant update and run make your code changes pushed immediately to the running app. It doesn’t require restarting of application.
- Inbuilt and lightweight emulator installs and runs your apps within no time. It makes your app run on a variety of device configurations.
- The next generation code editor provides a platform to write quality code, reduce time, and increase productivity. You get help from using advanced code completion, refactoring, and code inspection.
- Excellent build system (Gradle) helps in automating build, formulating dependencies, and preparing custom build configurations.
- Gradle is a multi-device build system. It works the same for all Android devices, be it a tablet, a mobile phone, or an Android TV.
- Easy integration with version control systems e.g. GitHub and SVN.
- It is also possible to prepare the Build environment for execution on a CI server like Jenkins and Bamboo.
- Readymade code templates can make app development easy and fast.
- Test your app with JUnit 4 and regress the UI using Espresso Test Recorder.
- Keep track of coding defects by running inbuilt static code analysis tool at regular intervals.
- Make the most of the built-in tools like Layout Editor, Vector Asset Studio, APK analyzer, and Translations editor.
In short, Android Studio is one of the best Java IDE which you must try for both desktop and mobile app development.
JDeveloper is a powerful Java IDE which is open source and initiated by Oracle. It supports the complete end to end development and addresses all phases of the application lifecycle.
This IDE is optimized for managing J2EE applications, databases, implementing REST/SOAP web services, mobile apps, and supports Oracle Fusion Middleware components and applications.
Also, it embeds a couple of tools to fasten the development process. One of them is the integrated WebLogic server which lets you run, test, and debug your J2EE applications. And others include SQL browser and PL/SQL editor to assist in building queries, browsing databases, and generating reports. Another stone in the wall is the WSDL editor which expedites SOAP and REST service development.
Also, two more tools to watch for are the inbuilt XSD/XML schema generators and service test runners.
DrJava is a thin and responsive development environment for writing Java programs. Initially, its purpose was to acquaint the beginners about Java via interactive learning. However, later a no. of extra features got added to serve the advanced users.
DrJava is one of those IDEs which started to support test driven development. It bundles features like intelligent code editor, an interactive terminal for evaluating program output, a source code debugger, and a unit test runner.
In addition to the above features, it supports Java 8 and newer versions. And another useful addition is the integration with Jacoco tool for code coverage. When you run the unit tests, it’ll generate reports containing links reporting the code coverage.
So, in our opinion, DrJava is best suited for the users who recently started learning Java. They can build Java programming skills and then transition to a more business-oriented tool like NetBeans, Eclipse or IntelliJ.
JEdit is an intuitive code editor used by many Java programmers over the years. It supports all leading platforms like Mac OS X, OS/2, Unix, VMS and Windows.
Like Eclipse, Java is the programming language used to develop JEdit. And it is also one of the best Java applications freely available for use under GPL 2.0.
Though, this IDE has a small footprint but offers some of the cutting edge features.
- Being developed in Java, JEdit enjoys the interoperable capability as Java does.
- It includes an inbuilt Macro language to automate any repetitive task. You can also make use of available Macros.
- JEdit packs with an interactive Plugin manager to search and download the plugins you like.
- Its code editor supports word-wrap, code folding toggles, auto indent and syntax styling for 200+ languages.
We believe a programmer should keep looking for ways to turn the wheel. Then only he can bring the change and support innovation. So he should keep exploring new tools and technologies.
MyEclipse is one of the productivity tools to make the development process more efficient. Behind MyEclipse is a Texas-based company called Genuitec who built it on top of open-source Eclipse.
It supports all three sides of the end to end product development which are Enterprise Development, Web Development, and Full Stack Development.
Let’s now have a quick view on the features it provides.
- Enhanced J2EE support for all notable frameworks like Spring, JPA, JSF, Jquery, and Cordova.
- Intelligent code editing with content assist, instant validation, syntax highlighting, navigational help (breadcrumb toolbar and minimap view).
- Complete maven project lifecycle management.
- Integrated MySQL, SQL Server, and Sybase support.
- Brought in Spring scaffolding to auto generate a turnkey Spring project.
- Inbuilt WebSphere to run, test, and debug your application on the fly.
- Other application servers like WebLogic, Apache Tomcat, GlassFish, and Derby have out of the box support.
- Allow creating dynamic web apps using TypeScript and Angular 2 (ES6).
- Finer support for restful web service development and testing.
- Get a live preview of your code with integrated CodeLive tool. You can also jump to the source from any element on the web page.
- Cross-browser testing and mobile simulator support.
- Share and discuss coding updates using integrated Slack.
So you’ve now seen that MyEclipse is full of features that can improve the productivity of any Java developer. This tool is worth trying if you want to do serious web development in Java.
JCreator is also one of the best Java IDE that provides interactive development experience to Java developers. It lends you more firepower to than any other code editor for Java.
Xinox Software is the IT company propelling the JCreator development. The IDE has two variants, first is Lite version with limited features and Pro edition with the full set of features.
- JCreator has numerous features to make you use this IDE.
- Easy Project Management Interface similar to Visual Studio.
- Custom color scheme to organize code.
- Configure multiple JDK profiles and use them in projects.
- Choose project template of your choice for a quick start.
- Support of build and version control tools like Ant and CVS.
- Automatic evaluation of class path, custom user interface.
- Ability to run your application as an applet, with JUnit or in a terminal.
- Built-in tools to call external functions and utilities e.g. XML validator, Java code formatter, RMI compiler.
This IDE gives due attention to ease of use, speed, performance and great user experience. It takes inspiration from Microsoft Visual Studio. If the users have prior experience with VS, then it would be easier for them to migrate.
GreenFoot is a specialized graphical code editor which mainly focuses on training Java to newbies via interactive teaching. It formulates an environment to generate simulations for GUI programs and games written in Java.
The IDE has documented every functionality in detail and made it available for both the beginners and advanced users. It helps all of them in ramping up quickly. The IDE has a simple and straightforward user interface and comprises of a single window to model all objects and classes of an application.
GreenFoot has a target audience where all students, teachers, and trainers fall in. However, it inculcates all required features for a broad range of Java developers.
- The IDE teaches object-oriented concepts via object modeling. It works on the idea of creating actors which live in worlds to build simulations, GUI programs, and games.
- The GUI editor allows adding classes with just a click. However, you can add more depending on your use case.
- It is also easy to extend a class or inherit subclasses from the base class. And that too, you can do with the visual editor.
- GreenFoot has an extensive support of image libraries grouped into categories like animals, objects, buildings, people, and symbols. You can even use the examples to learn and start building a solid knowledge base.
- The IDE features project management, code assist, auto-completion, syntax highlighting, and other relevant tools.
Hailing with such interactive features, there are a large no. of institutions which follow GreenFoot. It determines to provide a Java learning platform that is easy enough for the beginners to write robust, reliable, and scalable Java applications.
Summary – Did You Find the Best Java IDE of Your Choice?
Finding the best Java IDE out of a flooded IDE space is like discovering a pearl in the ocean. However, we shortlisted the top 10 Java IDEs after a deep analysis and outlined their unique selling points.
We wish that the above review would assist you in choosing the right tool for development.
However, if you are using a different IDE and like to see it in top 10, then let us know what makes it stands out among the rest?