Jacek Furmankiewicz evaluated strengths and weaknesses of Java IDEs-Eclipse, Idea and Netbeans, in an article. A thread is running on theserverside.com. Readers passionately poured their comments on why their IDE’s is superior to other. One of the reader commented that the number one reason people use Eclipse is because it is free. I say, Eclipse is the best Java free IDE available. Netbeans 4 was free but developers started treating it with respect only after Netbeans 5. I have to mention that, they have done amazing job with Netbeans 5.5 and its modules for JEE5. You can create CRUD based JEE 5 app, with Entity Classes, JSF pages, persistent unit without writing single line of code, if you have existing database schema.
I started my Java development with Eclipse and still sticking to it. I feel it is fast and easy to do Java coding. It’s code completion, incremental compiling, support for fixing errors, refactoring and debugging are great. Over the time I became so comfortable with Eclipse, that, when I come across new IDE, I will simply ignore it, unless it increases my productivity massively when compared with Eclipse. Even if I switch to new IDE, it will take sometime to get used to shortcuts and other features.This is the same case with most of the developers. I hardly used IDEA. IDEA users says it is faster than Eclipse and I don’t know about other features in IDEA . But I don’t find anything in Eclipse that is blocking my productivity in the area I am working.
Sometimes the nature of your project and your company’s working environment forces you to choose the IDE. One of the reasons I am slightly inclined towards Eclipse is I am Eclipse plug-in developer. To be productive in this area I need to use Eclipse. But I am not totally biased towards Eclipse. For example, if I have to do Swing development, I will choose Netbeans 5.5 over Eclipse or if I want to write J2EE app that will be deployed on Websphere, I will go for WSAD. If it is pure Java coding, I will stick with Eclipse.