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Java IDEs? 679

Billy the Mountain asks: "In the startup company I'm in, we just got a new president and she asked us about ways of increasing developer productivity. We develop Java applications, servlets and JSP. I don't use an IDE. I use an enhanced text editor, EditPlus, because I like its color coding of keywords. I guess what I'm asking is what Java IDEs do you use and what features do you like best?" If you were to build a Java IDE from the ground up, what features would you include?
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Java IDEs?

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  • Together (Score:4, Informative)

    by wintahmoot ( 17043 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:39PM (#2535705) Homepage
    You should definitely have a look at Together Controlcenter from TogetherSoft. It's not really an editor, but great for modelling Java applications.

    Hope you like it...
    • Re:Together (Score:5, Informative)

      by igrek ( 127205 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:48PM (#2535745)
      Together is nice, but last time I checked it was very expensive. Something like $7000 for single-user/single-computer license or $11000 for floating license.

      I don't mind paying for good software, but 4-5 digit figures... it's too much, IMHO.
      • Re:Together (Score:2, Informative)

        by matt[0] ( 12351 )
        We bought one license of Together 4.2, and premium subscription to get the upgrades (now running 5.5), I use it as I am our "chief architect". It is just too pricy to outfit a whole shop with, unless you are insanely successful and can afford 7G for software.

        It is also a bit slow for general use (I run it on a P3-1000/512MB Ram/IBM A22p), I usually design in Together and code in VIM.
    • Re:Together (Score:2, Interesting)

      by qapla ( 25141 )
      Together is an amazing program.

      The best version in my opinion is 3.0 (I don't know if you can still buy it, but it is reasonably fast and does everything that it needs to do... later versions are somewhat buggy it seems).

      Also... it is made with Swing which is a huge drawback... it runs just as slow on my dual 1.5 GHz Athlon box as it does on my 550Mhz PIII... so something must be wrong with the code...

      But overall, what Together does is so amazingly useful that I can ignore the sluggishness. The way it keeps the model in sync with the code is worth a fortune in enhanced productivity. It's the best development environment I've ever used... If only they could re-implement it in C :)
  • JCreator (Score:4, Informative)

    by Qui-Gon ( 62090 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:41PM (#2535717) Homepage Journal
    Its has a simple interface. Does syntax highlighting,projects,etc. check it out. The only downer is it only for Windows. :( []
  • Who needs an IDE? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tapin ( 157076 )

    Syntax highlighting, data dictionary, easy compilation and debugging... what else do you want?

    • Re:Who needs an IDE? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by boudreau ( 78766 )
      Who needs one???

      Anyone on a large scale project does. Let's throw out some useful buzzwords: distributed, scalable, flexible, etc, etc.

      Projects that have those types of requirements and have a lot of developers should be using a good IDE, that contains an excellent debugger. My view is that the debugging feature is what adds the most value to any IDE so long as the IDE does not skimp out on all the basic (and advanced) text editing features.

      Just my $0.02
  • by sylvester ( 98418 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:42PM (#2535720) Homepage
    I've worked extensively in both Jbuilder (2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 5.0) and more recently Netbeans (an offshoot of Forte).

    Every version of JBuilder, I hope that it gets faster. It never did. And they changed their licencing for their free version, so i moved away from it.

    Netbeans is dog slow, too.

    If I were building a java IDE, it would be slim and trim. I don't use debuggers - proper logging and the occasional use of system.out.println()'s is enough for me. I want syntax highlighting, PROPERLY FLEXIBLE code reformatting, and name-completion. And I want it fast. I guess the problem with most Java IDEs are that they're written in Java (which makes sense) but without enough attention to writing fast java (which _is_ possible.)

    Netbeans has some really nice simple features like abbreviations (Think autocorrect in MS-Word) so impj expands to "import java." and "psf" expands to "private static final" (how many times have you typed _that_?) but it doesn't have much for code reformatting. And it's stupidly huge.

    And no, I don't like emacs. I'm a GUI guy, and emacs (or xemacs or whatever) doesn't cut it for me.
    • by rfsayre ( 255559 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:50PM (#2535760) Homepage
      There is Eclipse [], which I've never used, but it got good reviews from Netbeans users (I have used Netbeans). It appears promising as it as a natively implemented GUI (SWT), and a completely modular design. It also has refactoring and other neat stuff check out this recent article [].
    • Netbeans (an offshoot of Forte).

      NetBeans isn't an offshoot of Forte. NetBeans is the open source project that Forte is based upon. Saying NetBeans is an offshoot of Forte is like saying Mozilla is an offshoot of Netscape Navigator.

      Netbeans is dog slow, too.

      Might not be the fastest thing on earth, but it's not that slow. I mean, come's an IDE, not a web server. How fast does it really need to be?

      I use NetBeans every day. I wouldn't try to run it on a 486 or anything, but I do run it on three different machines (a 400mhz/256mb Ultra 5, an 850mhz/256mb PC, and a 700mhz/384mb PC), and on all of them it's a bit slow starting up, but after that it's pretty responsive. Again, not greased lightning or anything...

      I've tried VisualAge for Java (IBM), JBuilder, SGI's Jesse, and one or two others I can't recall right now. NetBeans is one of the best I've ever seen, even before you consider that it's completely free (beer). JBuilder is nice, too, if you have the cash to pay for it.

      • NetBeans isn't an offshoot of Forte. NetBeans is the open source project that Forte is based upon. Saying NetBeans is an offshoot of Forte is like saying Mozilla is an offshoot of Netscape Navigator.

        Heh, thats pretty funny! Mozilla _is_ an offshoot of Netscape Navigator (4.x code base), rewritten a few times, and then recycled back into netscape 6.x.
        However, it is still an offshoot of netscape navigator
  • File Linking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by basking2 ( 233941 )
    Because of the oodles of files that large java projects (or even moderately sized ones) tend to create, I would LOVE and environment that would via some magical interface, let you navigate to a file that defines an instantiated object.

    Yeah, it's a hairy feature to implement, and one that that I haven't seen much of outside of HTML environments, but file hopping when building your own libraries gets to be a pain in Java!

    My 2 cents. :-)
    • It's a cron-job type of thing and you'd have to write some elisp to integrate it with the lxr output (or hook into the fragment database), but it could be done:

      It looks like they're nearing a 1.0 release and have got the database integration and CVS integration cleaned up a lot lately. You'd still have some work to do if you wanted a fully-automated in-editor version of what you're asking for, but it would be fun stuff to implement, I think most of the drudgery is taken care of by now. Wow LXR has come a long way!!!

      When I was a full-time Java/C/C++ developer I often used DDD + XEmacs + the combination of LXR and CVSweb to keep my wits about me and could therefore point other developers to whatever I'd done recently, how it worked, and what it involved. Now I'm more of an admin/loose cannon...

      Haven't used LXR in a while and it seems like all my code has degenerated into componentized Perl, C, and Bash lately, but I still use CVSweb, JavaDoc-style docs (POD, JavaDoc, PHPdoc, Doxygen, whatever works), and a syntax-hilighting editor (Vim or XEmacs) whenever I write anything that'll be deployed for more than a week.
      I know that the Gnome and Mozilla projects use LXR integrated with CVSWeb, but don't judge it harshly just because of that ;-). (actually I'm using Galeon and kind of like it better than IE, so scratch my bitching about Mozilla)
    • I wasn't quite sure what you meant here, but it seems like there are a few solutions to things you might have meant:

      1) Way to find classes that implement a particular interface. Just do a JavaDoc run in JDK 1.2 or higher, the page presenting the interface you are interested in will list all of the implementing classes with links to those JavaDoc pages (true, it's not built into the editor - but I find myself switching between the editor and JavaDoc anyway).

      2) Ability to go to the class that your current variable is a type of - many IDE's have symbol browsing built in that will let you hover over your variable "foo", and jusp to
  • by Mr Thinly Sliced ( 73041 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:46PM (#2535733) Homepage Journal

    Well, as always, the text editor itself is really up to you - I use the ubiquitous emacs [] along with the fantastic jdee [] IDE that installs inside emacs for syntax highlighting, quick toolbar access to your classes, and easy creation of class from templates.

    If you are serious about writing good OO componentised java though, its almost essential now to use a decent UML tool during the design stages and further like rational rose [] / together [].

    One of the nice things about together [] is that it works by placing javadoc comments inside your java - so your design documentation is never out of step with your source. Invaluable.

    I don't work for together - but I do find their tool helps me visualise the workings of complex systems without remembering all the methods and stuff.

    So if I had to put a finger on it - let developers choose their editor/IDE themselves, but get all developers to use a UML tool independant of the IDE.

    Mr Thinly Sliced
    • oy. UML is nice for meetings and sketching things out, but the diagrams can (and should) be generated from the code, so any particular developer doesn't need to use it.

      All developers should be versed in reading UML and drawing out pseudo-UML on a whiteboard or a sketch page or whatever. But it's a needless step (for some developers, not all) in the development process when it comes down to a developer writing out the code for his/her component.

      So, I like Emacs+JDEE (for myself) and Eclipse (as a suggestion for others that don't like emacs). ArgoUML is becoming a decent free UML tool. UML diagrams should be generated from the code for new developers to be able to understand a developed system. High level architectural docs should be UML or better yet, simpler pseudo-UML.
    • I agree that jdee over emacs is a great solution for Java development. The original poster also asked about JSPs.

      Support for JSPs in emacs isn't there automatically with JDEE, but the mmm-mode [] module works great. It deals with the problem of having both HTML formatted code and Java code in the same buffer.

    • Hell, why not do it the easy way?

      Write the code, get it up and running, and then reverse engineer it into UML via the Rational Rose tools. Satisfies the Architect-types, and makes you look as though you've stuck to the design outlined by those pretty UML pictures.

      Err.. not that I've ever done it that way. Nu-uh, not me.
    • Using an automatic tool to generate/maintain UML is a bad idea. UML should represent stuff in your head, stuff that you consider important. The exercise of drawing it by hand is an important part of the UML design process (you are supposed to remember all those methods; if you can't, your system should probably be simplified). And too much detail is just as bad as too little detail.

      In practice, I have also found the various "enhanced" IDEs (with support for roundtrip UML or refactoring) to be too sluggish. I prefer a fast editor, a fast compiler, and some simple linking between error messages and source code any time

  • Look into Eclipse! (Score:5, Informative)

    by gmjohnston ( 254601 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:46PM (#2535735)
    IBM just announced (in the past day or so) the release to the open source community of Eclipse ( []). Not only is it a great Java IDE, it's also designed for extensibility from the ground up.
  • visual cafe, forte (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 3am ( 314579 )
    forte is free (Free too, i believe), but isn't the best. The text editting is cumbersome. but heck, try it out (from Sun... you can find it from, and if you like it, you've saved a buck.

    visual cafe will cost you, but is quite good.

    honestly, J++ was my favorite (i'm ashamed to admit), but i certainly would recommend it any more :)

    metrowerks has one, too, but i wasn't very favorably impressed with my limited usage of it.
  • jedit (Score:2, Informative)

    by ocipio ( 131260 )
    use jEdit [].

    Written in Java. Its not an IDE, but its an excellent editor.
  • lots out there (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:47PM (#2535740)
    Well, most shops I've seen use Jbuilder []. It's fast, it's very good and at least version 4 was free. It's the top dog for a reason. Unfortunately, they've switched to an absurdly expensive model for their upper tiers of commercial products.

    I've also used Codewarrior for Java [], and have been pleasantly surprised. It's a top-notch environment. Metrowerks has done some fine work.

    Forte/NetBeans [] has a way to go. What a pig. 3.0 has some nice speed and stability increases...

    If you don't need a really fancy setup, try jEdit []. It's an open source text editor with syntax coloring(60 file types!), and the plug-ins avaliable give you plenty of project management features.

    And a dark horse: IntelliJ []. I really like it. Lots of "enterprise" features bundled in a relatively cheap package.

    • Re:lots out there (Score:2, Informative)

      by danox ( 232017 )

      I currently use Forte. This program definately requires some hardware thrown at it. It was just bearable on a 500mghz PII with 245MB RAM. I upgraded to a 1.7 Mghz P4 with 1GIG RAM, and it is very usable. I like forte becasue it is both simple and powerfull. It only does as much as you need it to do. I especially like the new method for creating .jar files in V3, two clicks and your jar file is recreated exactly the way you want. I also like how it can be used to browse the contents of a .properties file. And it's XML suport is cool as well. (XML files appear in the explorer as a node, and you expend the entire tree and change values from the propery window without ever editing the file directly). I use forte for programs that I am developing on my own. One drawback I have noticed with forte, is that since it lives on the JVM, if you crash the JVM while testing a program, you also take down forte, bummer.

      For team projects, my company uses IBM Visual Age for Java. Still resource hungry (though it doesn't touch FORTE) it has the best team based development model that I have found. The IDE connects directly to a server-based reposititory in which all code is kept. Anyone can alter any code they want, but they then have to version their code for it to be available to others. Each class, package and project has a manager, who is able to meld the different versions together and then release the official version of the code. It works well in a heighrachical structure, but can get messy when there is no clear line of ownership in the project.

  • NetBeans [] is an amazing IDE, although it was a bit slow on my 400 Celeron at work.

  • Together (Score:2, Informative)

    by ajole ( 132756 )
    At Queen Mary and Westfield College in London we use TogetherJ by Together soft.
    With together you can make use cases, sequence charts, state charts, all the edu text-book stuff, but most of all are class diagrams. make us happy. works for c++, too.
    It's a hog, though, so get a fat machine. Forte isn't bad, though for a nice IDE.

    I gotta agree though, emacs is the shtuff.

    Patrick Kidd []

  • CodeWarrior (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:50PM (#2535759) Homepage
    What about CodeWarrior by Metrowerks []? I use it for C++ codeing and I think that it's great. It's got stanex highlighting, a debugger, etc. It can also do C and Java, so maybe that would be right up your alley.
  • Forte. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DGolden ( 17848 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:50PM (#2535763) Homepage Journal
    Um, I think Forte/NetBeans and IBM VisualAge/WebSphereStudio/Eclipse/Whatever have the serious Java IDE market pretty much sewn up between them. Borland used to be a player, but aren't now.

    It's been months since I've met anyone who doesn't use Forte/NetBeans, although people targetting IBM Websphere server tend to use VisualAge for Java.

    One feature I'd like to see is a "see-through" source pane, showing superclass code with a muted background in the same pane as the class you're editing, so that you don't have to hold so much state (remembering the superclass) in your head, perhaps with a configurable depth to which to walk back up the class hierarchy. This would make working with inheritance easier for dolts like me.
  • Kawa (Score:2, Informative)

    by benb ( 100570 )
    Kawa was a nice IDE a few years ago. (But not open-source.)

    I didn't track it, but it seems like it got pushed around between several companies and has finally been dumped by Macromedia []. Morons.
  • I use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebby ( 11637 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:52PM (#2535775) Homepage
    Slickedit [], hands down the best balance between Notepad and a full fledged IDE I've seen. Think emacs, but with a better GUI and without all the extra crap and ridiculous key combos.

    I've cranked out many lines of Java code with it, so it's lasted the long haul for me.
    • Re:I use (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hattig ( 47930 )
      Is that you, Roy? :)

      Seriously, SlickEdit appears to be amazing, but I am an emacs man, and I like my mode of operation: [edit stuff]
      ctrl-x v v [cvs comment] ctrl-c ctrl-c

      SlickEdit doesn't do CVS, but it does other code repositories.

      It also has emacs emulation.

      It is a lot for an editor. And I have only seen badly formatted code generated using it - sure programmer disfunction, but annoying.

      You have to get comfortable with your editing environment. Once comfortable (say, a few weeks regular use) then you can evaluate it.

      One thing - I hate editors that restrict you to Courier. That is a crap editing font.

      kate (KDE editor) is also nice as well, and configurable. Built in console option, and multiple files open at the same time in a good GUI. Multiple highlighting modes (not as advanced as the 'old' KDE Advanced Editor though), not restricted to a fixed-width font, etc. I like it.

      I used to like the old Amiga editors as well. BED. GoldED. CygnusEd. They were solid and good as well. Not relevant to the topic, but interesting anyway.

      • Re:I use (Score:3, Informative)

        by MemRaven ( 39601 )
        I use slickedit on a regular basis. And we use P4 at our shop (i.e. not one of the "default" source control systems). If you go to Tools->VersionControl->Setup you can actually specify all the commands with keyword replacement to put in any other command-line based source control system. So you can integrate with CVS using it if you just type in a few commands. So in that case Visual SlickEdit does do CVS.

        Visual SlickEdit also allows you to pick all your fonts (great for me who loves lucida sans in 9 point).

        I've seen badly formatted code with Visual SlickEdit, but it's probably programmer error. If you know how to set up your autoformatting stuff (just how it does open and close braces when it does it automatically, and yes, you can turn it off) then you can get it to happen just how you like it. It doesn't look exactly like emacs-default, but I personally hate most of hte emacs-defaults, so there you go.

        One thing that I haven't seen yet is the tags support. While in ctags you have to do something (like hit a key) to see a tag, in visual slickedit you just over over a keyword and it shows you in another pane all the references or the source of any local or class or global variable. And of course it does the drop-down listbox for all the member variables and methods and suchlike. That's the feature that really got me hooked on it, and I find it difficult to live without it at this point.

  • Personally I have only used Netbeans [] (an open source IDE writte entirely in, you guessed it, java) and Forte. I've heard of some people who like a Tek-tools product but I don't know much about it.

    The thing I like about Netbeans is that it runs on Linux AND Windows. Again, personally, I've only used the Linux version. I think they also have maybe a Mac OS, OS/2, and Unix (?) version of the product. The difference between Netbeans and Forte is that development builds come out often with new features that I can't deny loving.

    Of course, no product is without bugs. Fortre has bugs. Netbeans has bugs. The only major problem I've found using Netbeans is that when you request an inexistent branch during checkout the program crashes. There are a few other petty problems, but, again there are builds that come out all the time and bugfixes almost daily. Hope this helps!
  • Netbeans (Score:5, Informative)

    by illusion_2K ( 187951 ) <slashdot@dissol[ ]ca ['ve.' in gap]> on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:55PM (#2535789) Homepage

    During the whole discussion of Eclipse the other day, I wrote about how it differs from Netbeans. []

    For me it meets pretty much all of my needs:

    Open source

    Decent interface (although some people disagree), which you can configure to appear as a single window or multiple windows (great for those multi-monitor setups)

    Support for CVS

    Ability to mount FTP directories as a filesystem so that I can store projects on the servers at school

    Support for a whole wack of Java standards which I don't use at all - JINI, JSP, beans, etc...

    ANT [] build scipts

    Plenty of other stuff I won't bother to mention.

    In fact the only real minus to it is that it is kind of a memory hog and takes a bit to load up (probably because it's written all in Java). Either way though, it's worth a look.

  • use the emacs JDE (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phranking ( 134197 )
    Its what I use, a bunch of (I think) lisp modules that plug into emacs and keybind all sorts of whiz bang keystroke saving nonsense (ex. "bo" auto-expands to "boolean" and M-/ scroll completes variable and method names ala bash's tab key). I had massive wrist problems, and got a kinesis and installed the ide and I'd estimate my total number of keystrokes is down to maybe a third of what it used to be without JDE's code completion functionality. Not to mention the built in debugger, which shows all variables in scope in a particular instance of a class (which also kind of sucks when the stack gets really huge, or you've got a really meaty instance, but hey). As far as GUI building - I've always found that I've better luck with swing when I get in there and lay stuff out explicitly.
  • by mactari ( 220786 ) <rufwork AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @09:55PM (#2535791) Homepage
    What does a Java IDE need?

    * Open source -- I want a new feature, I add it. I see a bug, I fix it.
    * Code completion -- As much as you might hate M$, there ain't no faster coding that Visual Basic, and most of that is due to Intellivisio -- ur, Intellisense. If the IDE finishes my lines for me, that's half the battle right there. (Thanks, Mr. Ness)
    * GUI RAD -- Look, I want to program the nuts and bolts, not spend tons of times making a beautiful set of buttons. A RAD lets me WYSIWYG my way to a great UI.
    * Syntax highlighting -- as stated in the post, I like to see what's a string, what's a comment, and what's code. And see it quickly.
    * The exact same UI cross platform -- When I go from Windows at work to a UNIX workstation down the hall to my iBook at home, I want to use the same tool to program my "write once, test -- ur -- run everywhere" code. My code's crossplatform, why shouldn't my IDE be too?

    Hey, lookit there, I just described !

    Sun funds much of the development team, so I know I have support. But before Sun gets their hands on the code to turn it into Forte, I've got full access. Was actually reading /. waiting for Netbeans to download updates as I wrote this.

    Only drawback -- I sure wish this was written in assembler. ;^D Without a 1.8 GHz machine, it's still a little slow.
  • I like the idea of NetBeans [], a free and Open Source (Mozilla-esque license) Java-based Java IDE. Uh, looks like the site isn't responding, so here's the Google cache []. I like its UI design, too. However, my experience with it has been that it's really really slow. I suspect misconfiguration on my part, since I haven't heard more general revulsion towards it. 30 seconds to build "Hello, World!" would cause revulsion, I figure. Still, having an IDE that runs on all platforms is nice.

    On Windows, I've used Oracle JDeveloper [], which is Free(beer) software and can be downloaded from the Oracle Tech Network site if you register. I've mainly used the older version (3.1) for doing JSP work, but it contains some native code and is thus faster. I think Jdeveloper was based on Borland Jbuilder, but I'm not familiar with the new version.

  • Forte for Java (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Josuah ( 26407 )
    I've used Forte for Java Community Edition (CE) and it's really great. It's free, and supports most everything the developer needs, although if you need some beefier features you have to pay for the Enterprise Edition.

    The only problems I've had with it are a lackluster editor, which doesn't do as much syntax coloring as I would like or handle indentation very well (you have to right-click and choose to re-indent/nice-up the code).

    But one of the nice things about Forte is that it uses XML and plain text for all the project files. You can copy the files from one computer to another and even between platforms and you're good to go as long as you have a copy of Forte for Java over there.
  • I haven't written an IDE, but I use one (Is that kind of like, IANAD but I play one on TV?). Start simple. Make a basic editor with color coding for keywords, maybe even variables and other things. Most importantly, make it extensible via plugins. If you're going to go open-source, this means that you don't have to write all the functionality. Other people will write coold stuff to plug into it.

    I don't do Java, but I've played with it and the lack of a good IDE is a problem. Make it possible to plugin new functionality (code-snippet libraries, integrated CVS, regular expression/text search tools, etc) and people will add to it.

    The current project I'm in involves a very component-based system. One of the best things we ever did was to add a "plugin" capability to our system. We now support one executeable (with very limited functionality), but we have a bunch of different options, in the form of plugins, that we can ship to different customers to fit their needs. If there's a bug in the primary code, then we fix it and all of our customers get it, no matter what customizations they have.

    Granted, I'm the architect of the product, so I've got a little pride in the fact that it works so well for us (not that plugins were my idea, but for our product, it's original). But after seeing it work so well, I'm sold on the idea of creating component-based, extensible products. I think it's something that would work especially well in the open-source environment.
    • You should have a look at jedit [] it is not a complete IDE but rather a very powerful text editor with _tons_ of plugins (anything from a java class browser to a full featured irc client). And it's open source also.
  • Try CodeGuide (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    CodeGuide by OmniCore ( is pretty inexpensive, performs really well, and has a bunch of useful features, including very good code introspection and completion. It doesn't do GUI form editing, purely code editing, but that's all I need it for since I do exclusively server side work.
  • by Kablooie!! ( 34290 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:02PM (#2535832) Journal
    I don't work for intellij: I'm just a very satisfied customer.

    Check out IntelliJ IDEA at [].

    IDEA is an excellent fully-integrated IDE. It supports (among many other things):

    • Full syntax highlighting of Java and JSPs
    • All the smart editor functions you would ever want
    • Configurable coding style pretty-printer
    • Integrated debugger, CVS, ANT, and extensible with an "External Tools" interface
    • Shortcuts galore- you can do everything with the keyboard if you choose.
    • The big thing: Built-in support for a whole mess of Refactorings []
    • And a whole lot more

    IDEA is written in Java, so it works on the main platforms (I personally use it on Solaris, Linux, and occasionally Win NT/2000). Despite this, performace is good.

    It costs something like $400US and I think it is worth every penny.


    • Yep! I've been using it for the last couple of months, and it's the first IDE that I thought was worth the bother.

      Before IDEA, I used things like vi or nedit. Every IDE I tried seemed to be mainly an interface annoyance coupled with a bunch of code generations tools (which personally I think are for dolts). Or instead it turned out to be something that insisted on a particular way of development that had very little to do with how I worked (hello, TogetherJ and VisualAge).

      But IDEA has excellent attention to UI: it does what I want about 90% of the time; JBuilder is more like 30%. And its automated refactorings are the bees knees; being able to safely and quickly rename a method across a 1000-class project is alone worth the money. And that sez nothing about the other refactorings or the many other handy tools.

      And like the previous poster, I'm not affiliated with IntelliJ; I just think their products kick enough ass that I coughed up my own personal dough for a copy to use at work.
  • VIMIDE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by matt[0] ( 12351 )
    If I were designing an IDE, I would integrate gvim as the text editor, integrate ANT, and include a UML-to-code component like in Together ControlPanel. It would also have to load very fast.

    NetBeans has ANT integration, Together does too, but they all have sh***y text editors and are sluggish.

    My suggestion is to buy a copy of Together CC 5.5 for laying out projects (give it to your chief architect), and let the coders use whatever they want. If you are doing a project which requires Swing, you also might want to use JBuilder. VisualAge is good but generates terrible code. It really helps to use one of those tools when laying out panels.
  • It's minimalist although the company [] was recently sold, and it seems to be growing in alliances with other vendors. Especially good for beginners, imho. The recent integration with CodeWright makes it very flexible for the advanced user as well.

    Lately, I've also tried using ctags(1), with the newer options for parsing java code:

    $ ctags --lang=java
    then combining the tag files with Vim(1) using Vim's syntax highlighting and the tags to hop around. ctags and vim dont really give you a visual class browser... but they're free.
  • Java based IDE (Score:2, Informative)

    by updatelee ( 244571 )
    I would love to use an IDE, a great editor with debugging eatures like stack trace and step by step variable windows. that would be great. I use ultraedit for coding php, Ive use ZendIDE a java based IDE, dont like it, the editor just isnt as powerull as ultraedit.

    Chris Lee
  • Omnicore CodeGuide (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rodbegbie ( 4449 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:09PM (#2535862) Homepage
    Codeguide from Omnicore [] is absolutely outstanding. Its automatic code help [] feature is incredible. You can see the errors in your code before trying a compile.

    I use Forte, and find it painfully slow, but its Swing forms designer tool is superb (it's a piece of cake to do GridBag layouts!)

    CodeGuide is the best I've used in terms of quick, easy code development.

  • by mrAgreeable ( 47829 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:09PM (#2535863)
    I've tried several. Here's a rundown of what I've experienced. All of these have syntax highlighting, code completion, popup parameter help, can jump to the place a class or variable was defined. The all have a debugger.

    Codeguide [] This was my first java IDE. I used it for a while. For a java IDE it's not so slow. Real-time compilation shows any code mistakes (it underlines them red), even stuff that others miss. Free evaluation version. Not terribly expensive. Relatively poor debugger. Nice autoindenting and code formatting. Virtually nonexistant CVS integration. Closed source.

    JBuilder [] : Slow. Does a lot. Has excellent plugin support, so it can be extended a lot. Nice project management. The Enterprise version has excellent CVS integration. Has a visual editor if you do a lot of Swing programming. Fairly poor real-time error detecting. The best "enterprise" tools of these I mention. If you're doing j2ee stuff maybe you can use that stuff. Nice debugger. Library support for editing classpath is great. Autoindenting and code formatting a little weaker. Frustrating memory leak under linux has been plaguing it for years. There is a free version, closed source.

    NetBeans [] SLOW. Reall, really slow. Has a ton of plugins. Ant integration is cool. Project management is a little hard to get used to. Etrememly flexible.I gave this one a real chance but the speed and bugs finally drove me away. Weak CVS integration. This is whas Sun's Forte is based on. (Think Mozilla/Netscape.) Open source.

    Idea [] Excellent IDE. The refactoring support is 2nd to none in any IDE for any language I've ever seen. Code formatting is excellent, I've never seen so many options for how to format code. Code templates are cool. Library support is a little weaker than jbuilder and codeguide - that's one of its few weaknesses. Decent CVS integration. (Not as good as JBuilder, nothing I've seen is.) I code faster with this IDE than any I've used. UI to override methods, implement interfaces, move methods (and fix all the dependencies in your project), rename methods/classes. Lots more. Try it. Closed source.
  • I found this site while searching Google for Java IDE's - here [] is the link. Hope it helps. It appears to have a listing of a whole bunch of different Java IDE's - some commercial, some
  • Try this.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jheath ( 33357 )
    Instead of learning an IDE how about focusing on what the language offers and how to best use it and the APIs that support what you do? Instead of spending money on the same IDE for everyone how about having the Java developers work on the Sun Java Programmers Certification together and let the company pay for that? Meet one day a week at lunch and discuss a chapter from a certification guide. If that's too basic how about springing for a copy of Design Patterns for everyone and go through it a pattern a week over lunch? Everybody down with patterns, then think about something similar with Martin Fowler's Refactoring or whatever strikes the group's fancy. Learn javadoc and how to exploit it effectively. Do code reviews and pair programming. Think about what you do and how you do it rather than ask "Gee, what tool can I go buy to do my work for me."

    In short figure out the actual tool (the Java language) and the ways to use it effectively rather (patterns and best practices) rather than waste the time and money learning to use a tool which may do "something" for you but ultimately rests between you and the tool you are working with, Java. Besides, you've got at least person that department that is using either vim or emacs and there's gonna be a fight when you come for their editor.
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:20PM (#2535904)
    Actually, the advice of the other posters here is decent. I have tried most of the IDEs and Java-aware editors out there. Let me preface this by saying that I have both used these tools and managed development organizations that have used them in heterogeneous environments at my company. In the end, I still use emacs about 95% of the time for editing Java source code. As far as using UML tools, others have recommended Together Control Center and in my opinion this is a superior product to Rational Rose, but this really only comes into play in the design phase of a project with sufficient complexity to merit it, and doesn't really speak to your question (though I think proper use of UML and design documentation do improve developer productivity in the long term).

    Lemme give a quick run down of what Java IDEs I have knowledge of:

    • Kawa: A nice, relatively clean IDE, syntax highlighting, add-on modules for stuff like EJB/servlet debugging and nice things like that. It may have a different name these days, I tried it over a year ago for a while.

    • JBuilder: This is old faithful amongst Java IDEs. It's not that fast, but it has a lot of features, and a lot of nice modules (I like the JxBeauty plug in, makes quick reformatting really easy). Also has great JSP editing support, with dual mode syntax highlighting (a MUST if you are doing serious JSP work, i.e. HTML and Java syntax highlighting in the same file). I've never seen it do autoindenting, which I can't stand (nothing else I've seen does as good a job at this as Emacs). But as an IDE is the best package I know of. Has improved a lot since 3.0, but I've only tried each successive version a few times. 5.0 is installed on my box and I used it for JSP editing for a while, but not much else, and I don't do JSP work anymore.

    • Netbeans/Forte: I have seen people who swore by this. Actually, only one guy, and I fired him (not because he swore by Netbeans, which I consider a slow bloated piece of dog turd, but because he was incompetent). I really disliked it and found that I had uninstalled it within a day. YMMV depending on your tolerance for REALLY slow REALLY laggy Swing apps (and this was on a PIII 750 with 256 megs of RAM)

    I've also tried some editors that are nicely Java-aware but don't include the other IDE features. jEdit, Textpad and Emacs are my favorites. Nothing beats a nice, well configured emacs, IMHO. It actually can be configured as more or less a full IDE with automatic compiler and debugger invocation, but I just use it for the slick editing capabilities and the nice color configurable syntax highlighting, auto-indenting, etc. Only weakness is that the dual-major-mode JSP highlighting hacks I've seen out there are all pretty weak and annoying to use. JBuilder is easier on the eyes and brain if you are doing JSP work.

    That's about it for my experience. I have come back to emacs every time, since ultimately it's more work than it's worth in terms of any productivity I'd gain to use an IDE. The reality is that if you know the command line tools for your development platform (i.e. javac, jdb if you need to debug, and java for the VM) and you have a good build tool (I HIGHLY recommend Ant for pure Java apps, then using emacs and the command line, you are just as productive if not more so than the dude down the hall with the IDE. Once the stuff you are working on has become part of a large application with its own build structure, etc. making your build system and your IDE work together is really not feasible.

    Most importantly, what I really STRONGLY don't recommend is forcing everyone in the company to use the same IDE. This will have a hugely negative impact on developer productivity if you have people who like and prefer to use emacs and command line tools. Offer official training and support for a "preferred" environment if you want, whatever that environment may be, but don't force it on people who are comfortable and productive in a different environment, unless you really want to piss them off AND you can afford the several weeks of down time while they familiarize themselves with the new environment.

    On the subject of integrated debuggers, etc., sometimes they are useful, sometimes they are not. Occasionally I have to turn to the debugger, but as apps get more complicated, if you have threaded anything, etc. it becomes difficult and poor practice to rely too much on the debugger. It's a tool, know when it's appropriate, whether you use one on the command line or embedded in your IDE of choice.

    And if you are building GUI apps, I highly recommend getting an IDE with some decent RAD tools in it (the IBM Java IDE as I recall had better tools than JBuilder). If you are just hacking JSPs and Servlets, productivity is primarily limited by developer competence and coordination between development and design staff (that's the hugest one in my experience), not by anything fundamental to the IDE or editor you are using.

    Again, YMMV and these are just my opinions.

    • > Most importantly, what I really STRONGLY don't recommend is forcing everyone in the
      > company to use the same IDE.

      It's interesting to note how many dev shops force their developers to use a particular operating system too - this is gradually changing but what I really want to do is develop in the way I am most productive and making me use windows + JBuilder cos everyone there does is pants at best, unproductive and expensive at worst. It's got to the stage now that I take my laptop with me. (Linux/emacs watch me alt-meta-shift-cokebottle [] those naughty windows boys)

    • Kawa (Score:2, Informative)

      by tpv ( 155309 )
      Kawa: A nice, relatively clean IDE, syntax highlighting, add-on modules for stuff like EJB/servlet debugging and nice things like that. It may have a different name these days, I tried it over a year ago for a while

      Tek-Tools made Kawa.
      They sold it [] to Allaire (for $9 mill!).

      Macromedia bought^H^H^H merged [] with Alliare.

      Macromedia killed off [] Kawa.

      The tek-tools version of Kawa was quite nice, by all reports it was destroyed somewhere between Allaire + Macromedia.

  • Check out IBM's Eclipse [] and/or Slashdot's post about it a couple days ago here. []
  • I own four orphaned Java IDEs, two from Sun, one from Microsoft, and one from Symantec. Grrr.
  • Why I like Forte... (Score:4, Informative)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:31PM (#2535938) Homepage
    When I first saw Forte (and prior to that, NetBeans) - I knew there was something good there. The main reason I like it: It make Java almost as easy to code in as VB.

    Drag and Drop controls, property settings, code linking - very, very easy - and Java! Don't get me wrong, I know how to code Java using a text editor, etc (NEdit is my favorite) - but it is a bitch to do Swing "by hand" - Forte takes the pain away (for the most part - some of the more custom stuff you still have to do by hand, and it has its glitches - but it still beats hand coding to whip out a quick app).

    What I hate about Forte: It is a resource intense HAWG!!! In order to be able to use it at all, you need at least a 300-350 MHz machine, and at least 256 MB of RAM - the faster you go and the more memory, the better it is (my first experience with Forte was on a P200pro w/ 64 MB RAM - don't try it unless you like watching your disk grind away)...
  • Borland JBuilder (Score:3, Informative)

    by JohnZed ( 20191 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:32PM (#2535940)
    JBuilder is still the best that I've found. The Pro edition will run you about $999 and enterprise around $3000 per seat, but it's incredibly usable, fast, powerful, etc.
    Most importantly, it has an amazing OpenTools API for customization. Check out and you can find dozens of (usually open-source) plug-ins that really increase the utilty of the IDE.
    Oh, and there's a rumor on the JBuilder newsgroups that version 6 will come out at the end of the year. You might want to check into that if you're making a big purchase and at least get a guarantee of a free upgrade (Borland often gives upgrades to people who bought within the last month or two, but after that it's big $$$).
  • I have just recently started using Forte [], which is Java based and produced by Sun. I think it is based off of their purchase of NetBeans some time back. The editor is quite nice, but it has far more features than I want. Personally I just edit with vi and use makefiles, but I'm required to find a development environment for multiple developers, and they aren't so keen on the old school methods.
  • In this article [] there is an overview of integrated development environments for Java. As Java virtual machines and computers have become faster, the speed issue is less problematic (but not entirely gone).
  • by Lord_Covenant ( 105707 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @10:56PM (#2536034) Homepage
    I use EditPlus for general programming & text editing - it has syntax coloring files for everything (httpd.conf files even).

    I have used Together, and I usually dump new lumps of code in to get a handle on them. I don't use it for day-to-day editing.

    For straight Java that winds up being packaged as a JAR, I use VisualCafe. The JAR packaging tool is very nice. I'm a "real coder" and don't use the debugger really, so I can't comment for those who have had problems.

    I have been investigating NetBeans and believe that for machines that are 650MHz+ it's fine.

    Finally, the most revolutionary tool we use, which has radically improved our development is Macromedia DreamWeaver UltraDev. For our JSP work, I can't say enough nice things. It does an amazing job of parsing existing code and adding new code without reformatting or destroying custom tweaks. We have done a few things, like standardizing on a JDBC-driver level connection pooling mechanism, and it works great.

    Regardless of your tools, I cannot recommend adding memory to your development machine enough. No matter what you are doing, it's a lot more productive to be an alt-tab away from your other tool than having to go through a disk grind to load another app. 256MB would be a minimum. And before you squawk, it's cheap! Damn cheap!

    As a final note, we use CVS for version control. We mostly do development on Win2K and deploy to Linux and Solaris. Finally, we are really looking at Mac OS X closely as MySQL, Postgres and Apache look better there than on Win2K.

    All in all, it's a bunch of tools, but I feel about as productive as I have since THINK Pascal (bonus points if you remember that one).
  • by FastT ( 229526 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @11:03PM (#2536069) Homepage Journal
    The latest version of Forte for Java 3.0 is actually surprisingly good. I tried to use previous version of Forte and they were just terrible. If you tried Forte before and didn't like it, try it again now.

    Version 3.0 seems to have fixed the major shortfallings and improved responsiveness tremendously. I run 3.0 on my 650 MHz laptop with only an occasional garbage collection pause, but it runs flawlessly on my 2x1 GHz machine. I've not switched to using it full time and haven't had any significant regrets.
  • I've used ForteCE (SUN) and VisualAge (IBM) and liked things about both of them. They both have quirks, but the quirks are overshadowed by the price (FREE).

    Something both of these products have in common is that they are resource hogs that bog your machine down and require very fast CPUs to be usable. If you have a fast machine, try them.
  • by jalagl ( 253529 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @11:20PM (#2536129)

    I work at a consulting company, and about 1 year ago I was in charge of evaluating several IDEs in order to standarize the development environment. Before that, there were people using vim, emacs, Editplus (my favorite - I still keep it around) and whatever-editor-you-can-think-of. I considered the following IDEs during the evaluation:

    • Forte for Java
    • Netbeans
    • JBuilder
    • Visual Age
    • Kawa
    Most of the applications we build are web-based J2EE applications. The requirements for the IDEs were:
    • Code completition (obviously)
    • Ability to remotely debug JSPs and servlets running in Tomcat, JRun, Weblogic, and iPlanet web server.
    • Ability to remotely debug EJBs in Weblogic, and iPlanet app server.
    • Facilitate the creation and deployment of EJBs and Javabeans components, including the xml deployment descriptors and the creation of .war and .jar files.
    • Extensibility. (we like to build our own tools)
    • HTML attribute completition on the JSP pages (like Homesite does).
    • To a lesser extent, the performance of the IDE.
    • Some others I can't remember right now...

    In the end my recommendation was to purchase several licenses for JBuilder 4 Enterprise for the EJB programmers and to have the rest of the team use JBuilder 4 Foundation. The main reasons were:

    • very nice and easy to use OpenTools API (we already have about 50 or more tools that greatly simplify our work)
    • some very nice EJB features and wizards, like automatic deployment descriptors, automatic creation of the archive files, etc.
    • Deploys to Weblogic 5.1 (what we used at the time)
    • Allows us to debug JSPs and servlets in Tomcat, Weblogic, JRun and iPlanetWS (with some work).
    • Allows us to debug EJBs in WebLogic.
    • Integrates with Visual SourceSafe through some readily available opentools

    The only ugly part was the price, but the Enterprise Edition, along with our own inhouse OpenTools, boosted our productivity quite a bit, so we could say that it more than paid for itself. It also doesn't support HTML, but since then we also bought Macromedia's Ultradev, and the graphics designers take care of most of that part.

    Right now I'm looking at the latest version of JBuilder 5 Enterprise Studio, which also contains Rational Rose. It might be in our upgrade path in the future for the JB4 Enterprise users, but there doesn't seem to be any replacement for JBuilder 4 Foundation, since the JB5 Personal Edition has a more restrictive license.

    As a side note, recently I've been using the latest version of NetBeans (3.2.1) quite bit in my house and it seems pretty nice. It handles remote debugging quite well, and it does understand HTML.


  • by gururise ( 263174 )
    In order of preference:

    1) TogetherSoft allows for UML->Source and Source->UML. Try the Community version of Togethersoft for FREE, only the print functionality has been disabled in this version. Has great syntax highlighting, and is fairly fast for a full blown java application. .shtml

    2) Forte for Java CE the Community Edition of the popular Forte Software is what I personally use for my Java Development. While not having the UML features of the Togethersoft product, I find it suits my needs just fine. An integrated debugger, and syntax highlighting make for a friendly (and free) product!

    3) Glimmer for linux. While not a full blown IDE, for simple projects, I find myself using glimmer alot. It's quick, written in C, and supports syntax highlighting for a plethora of languages (php, c, c++, java, perl, and lots more!), and best of all.. it's GPL!

    Gene Ruebsamen
    Orange County Real Estate []

  • VisualAge for Java` (Score:4, Informative)

    by mchang ( 218175 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @12:11AM (#2536317)
    Personally, I'm a convert to VisualAge for Java from IBM. I've used JBuilder, Forte, Together/J, XEmacs, Notepad, VisualCafe, you name it.

    VisualAge has a rather steep learning curve associated with it compared to a lot of the IDEs, but it really is the first product that I can recommend for Java coding.

    Unique features that I find useful are:
    * No files -- just a big 'ol database repository that is managed by VisualAge. There really is no need for files in Java, really, and this makes things great for reorganizing your code and proper versioning.
    * Incremental compilation that works with the debugger -- breakpoint your app, change code, continue with new changes.
    * Method-atomic units of editing. You edit at the method level instead of the file level. Easier to conceptualize large OO systems as you don't spend time navigating lines and lines of code and various files. Just pick a package, class, and method from a nice hierarchical window system and start coding.
    * Semi-open plug-in interface. Write your own little applets to do things to your own code base (fancy search/replace, exporting your code, merging changes...) -- this also means you can download/buy cool add-ons (Instantiations' VA/Assist and JFactor come to mind).
    * Good Enterprise team coding system. That repository is pretty good for keeping versions around and keeping things straight between teams of coders. You can also use and SCCI? compliant version control system.

    It can be tricky to master at times, but worth it, IMHO. Best of all, you can get a copy for $60 with the book Effective Visualage for Java at your local Barnes and Noble.

    Not affiliated--just finally satisfied with an IDE.
    • I like the way VAJ is designed. The project/package/class/method (and file-less) organization is logical. The repository might get one in trouble if it's not backed up frequently (though a third party source control tool could overcome that pretty easily). Incremental compilation is good as the project gets bigger and bigger. I still haven't tried writing event-driven systems with it but based on what I read it seems to have pretty good support for event-driven coding.

      My only concern are its steep learning curve, difficult to use different version of jdk and pretty slow response. As with other IDEs it requires you to work in a certain way.

      On a side note, I think a good IDE should have a good documentation system that integrates with other software design tools so that requirements can be reflected in the code/doc easily. It'd be a dream come true if I look at any part of a project (design/doc/code) and from there get to the other part of the project easily to allow me to view from the big picture all the way to the smallest detail real quick. Then again I don't have experience designing big enough system to really have an idea of how the doc should be integrated with the design. If anyone here has a good idea of how it should work I'd like to hear about it.
  • I am unclear on something about Java. It seems that as it requries a VM to run, which is in essence an (emulator/interpreter), sort of like the types of "compilers" used for BASIC, it isn't turing-complete. Are there any Java compilers written in Java, without some other type of programming language existing in the back end? Pascal is written in Pascal, C++ is written in C++, and so on. HOW they do that confounds me, but I've never understood if Java is a real "programming language" or just a sort of compiled very powerful scripting engine.

    My $.02 and some lint.
    • 1. Java is Turing-complete. As is every programming language you're ever likely to run into. Rule of thumb. How the implementation happens to run the code (VM, compiled to assembly, hand-evaluated with pencil and paper) is irrelevant.

      2. Sun's Java compiler is written in Java.
      • Yes, javac is written in Java, and that's why it's hella slow. Try putting it in a Makefile sometime. Ugh. That's why IBM's Jikes compiler is written in C++... much faster startup and compilation. In my tests Jikes is 7-20 times faster. I haven't tried Jikes on any of the new Java 1.4 stuff (assertions) so it may not be an option in that case.

  • For all things text related I use the VI(de). Others may be more robust, have better features, cost more money -- but damnit I spent 23 1/2 years learning VI , and 1 day without using it may well indeed set me back 10 years in the study of VI. And those $10 a minute calls to the VI helpline can get a bit costly.
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @12:35AM (#2536375) Journal
    Eclipse is an IDE framework written in Java. It is very extensible; all support for editors, compilers, debuggers, and other tools, etc is provided as plugins.

    Although it's written in Java, it can be used to develop programs written in other languages; there are already proof-of-concept plugins for C (using gcc) and make.

    It is being developed by OTI, an IBM subsidiary who did Visual Age Smalltalk and Visual Age Java. These people have a lot of experience building IDEs.

    Currently you can download the basic framework and a set of plugins that let you edit, compile and debug Java applications --- a pretty decent Java IDE. (The very-context-sensitive code-completion is pretty nice. It also has a great feature where it compiles the code every time you save and puts unobtrusive error icons at every line with an error --- an excellent way to keep your source error-free as you go, without getting in your face.) You get the source but currently not under a true open source license. The OTI people promise that they will be moving to a true open source license soon.

    This is a big initiative within IBM. The WebSphere Workbench product is already based on Eclipse. Lots of people within IBM, including IBM Research, and several other companies are building new development tools as Eclipse plugins.

    One slightly weird thing about Eclipse is that it doesn't use Swing. Instead it has its own toolkit called SWT, which is designed to expose a single cross-platform API but is reimplemented using native widgets on each platform. You can download versions for Win32 and Motif but in the newsgroups some OTI people said that they're working on a Gtk port.

    More information at [].
  • Because my Java work is almost exclusively centred around servlets, I don't need anything too fancy GUI-wise. In fact, I find the best way to work is the same way I've worked with other languages for years - with a text editor and a build tool. Vim [] is IMHO still the best source-code editor around, but what is there to use as a build tool when it comes to Java?

    Ant [], of course :) Ant's a very powerful build tool that combines an XML-based build-script markup with the power to write your own custom tasks in Java, and in my environment it makes building/testing/deploying a breeze. Simple, powerful and effective - great stuff :)
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday November 08, 2001 @02:58AM (#2536756)
    What I have found is that if you mandate one IDE, whatever it is someone will loose productivity. Personally the approach I've generally taken is that people are free to use whatever IDE they like, we have a good ANT setup for building and groups of people who use non-ant aware tools like JBuilder set up those configs which we also maintain in source control. I use Emacs, but other people on my team use Vim, SlickEdit, NetBeans (which I also use for debugging), JBuilder, and Textpad (sigh). The only way you can loose is that you can't buy many bundles usually, but most of the tools people like turn out to be free for the most part (except of course for JBuilder and TogetherJ, which is useful for design but can be hnady other times as well).

    What is good to standardize is directory structures and locations of projects, which helps you define the environment for the build a little easier.

    The setup that seems to work well for us is something like this (some things are new elements I've not quite tries yet):

    <DIR - project root>
    build.xml (ant build script)

    .bashrc (defines environemnt variables needed to run ant along with ant shortcut alias) (keep this one in source control and people can modify it locally once for odd setups - called by .bashrc under name

    runAnt.bat ( does all of the stuff the bashrc does, but in the way only a batch file can. Ick! Used by those poor souls without Cygwin)
    <SUBDIR build> - generated by ANT (compiled class files go in here)
    <SUBDIR source> - holds all source code
    <SUBDIR other...> any other subdirs you might need (resource, deploy, etc.)
  • IBM's Eclipse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tal Cohen ( 4834 ) <> on Thursday November 08, 2001 @03:57AM (#2536818) Homepage

    (Disclaimer: I am an IBM Research employee but this is my own personal opinion; I do not speak for IBM).

    Here at IBM's Haifa Research Lab, each one is allowed to choose his own tools. Many choose powerful editors with the ability to run JDK tools, and find it sufficient. That's what I did, up until a few weeks ago.

    I'm now using the soon-to-be-publicly-available (as open source) Eclipse, and it is downright amazing.

    The current version (1.0) has some shortcomings, but they are all minor, and the next version is already in advanced stages. Here are a few of the key features that are rather unique and available in 1.0:

    • Import management - a simple menu choice arranges your 'import' statements -- and adds missing ones, too.
    • Refactoring framework - easily rename methods, variables, and classes; move classes across packages; etc., and all the relevant source files (including those that use the rename/moved elements) are updated. Future refactoring support will include moving methods or fields up/down the hierarchy tree, and more.
    • Color-coded stdout - lets you easily tell System.out from System.err output.
    • History management - made a bad change? Choose 'Compare with -> Local history' (or 'Compare with -> CVS version', etc.) to see a fantastic visual diff between the versions, and undo changes. History is kept for each Save you do.
    • Does not use Swing - Eclipse is based on SWT/JFace, IBM's GUI frameworks for Java that are much snappier than Swing and look good, too. Of course, you can still use it to develop Swing applications.
    • Platform intergration - the Windows version of Eclipse supports OLE and allows you to edit (e.g.) Word documents from inside the IDE, if they are part of your project.
    • Configurable IDE - the various internal windows are easily configurable into tabbed noteboooks - the format of the notebooks (tabs available in each) is not preset and can be changed easily.

    I probably forgot a few more things. Plus, the whole thing is plugin-based and additional plugins are already available (from IBM and soon others). This includes database management, XML editors and more.

  • We all use JBuilder here, out of preference rather than any compulsion. It is a swing app, so needs decent machines (runs sweet on a dual P3-800) but the interface is pretty nice, and it has lots of syntax highlighting & auto completion features. There is a cheap/free basic "personal" version, but the license says you can't use it commercially. The standard version is a couple of hundred, well worth it. If you want to get flashy then the Enterprise version has some fantastic features for supporting teamworking and EJB development. Trials are available from their website for all versions.

    Other than that, I have heard many bad things about Visual Age, mainly around it's use of a repository rather than the filesystem - while there are some advantages, it has a habit of rewriting your code for you, losing comments etc in the process. Also, unless your whole team are working in VA, it's a royal pain in the butt.
  • Visual Age for Java (Score:3, Interesting)

    by under_score ( 65824 ) <<mishkin> <at> <>> on Thursday November 08, 2001 @07:56AM (#2537196) Homepage
    Most of the highly moderated comments have consisted of info about IDE's that are quite traditional: development is editing .java files. Visual Age for Java is significantly different. It is an incremental compiler which means that every change you make is immediately compiled when it is saved: you immediately know Everywhere you have made a mistake. As well, instead of working at a class level, you work at a method level. You edit methods not .java files. It has support for some basic refactorings. The really amazing thing is the debugger: you can change the code while debugging! If you find a mistake, you don't need to stop the process, you just change the code, save, and continue. The debugger, appropriately unrolls the stack (and whatever else it needs to do), and continues as if the change you made had always been there. Talk about making the code-compile-run-debug cycle efficient!!! IBM has a free trial download (its only a little crippled - limit of 700 classes). I strongly recommend trying it out. You have to work with it a little bit to see just how powerful these things are. I can't stand using anything else now. JBuilder sucks in comparison!

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