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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eclipse users, go download IntelliJ

JetBrains just announced the release of IntelliJ 9, which also comes with its new Community Edition! Congratulations, JetBrains!

The primary reason I was interested in Eclipse years past was because it was free and better than NetBeans; I could go from one job to another and not have to ask for an IntelliJ license. But I've always wanted to play with it. The final selling point to me was Eric Burke's IDE matrix. The day to start trying out IntelliJ has come now that a free version is available.

I'm playing with it tonight. Everything is familiar yet entirely foreign. I imagine that someone recovering from a stroke, learning to use his hands for the second time, might have similar (albeit more striking) frustration while realizing fingers don't magically go where they're supposed to.

My day job is providing tools and support to the Eclipse users at Google. We have quite a few Eclipse users at Google, but we also have quite a few IntelliJ users at Google. And it's not a terribly inaccurate characterization that the IntelliJ users at Google love IntelliJ. The folks that love it are colleagues I admire; Jetbrains must be doing something right.

If you use the Eclipse IDE to write your software, I encourage you to download IntelliJ and take it for a spin. See what you like, see what you don't. And then, report back. Sharing ideas from other communities can make a big difference to an open community.

Unless you fell into that "Tragedy of the Commons" conversation, in which case we're all screwed.


Philipp Kursawe said...

Beside having a slow responding user interface, slow project setup and manual java file compilation. What does it actually have to offer? The comments over at Eric Burke's entry complaining about Eclipse I can not understand. What are they missing? Is it that you can create massive web apps with IDEA? I am missing no feature in Eclipse and after testing IDEA (again after some years) I see no reason to switch.

Chris Aniszczyk said...

Rob, I honestly believe that the Eclipse Java tooling is better than IntelliJ. The areas I think we suffer at is consuming plug-ins and a variety of quality. First, it's not always easy to find plug-ins that you need for your project. We have a disparate set of people producing code at Eclipse and we have to stitch those together. My hope is that things improved with the new Eclipse Marketplace coming.

The other problem where Eclipse hurts is that there is a variety of quality of the components available. People expect JDT quality in other scenarios like Python tooling and it's not always like that.

I do believe we can learn a lot from each other though. It would be good if both IntelliJ and Eclipse users give each other IDE for a try sometimes and give respective feedback.

Miles Parker said...

Exactly. IntelliJ provides the kind of overall product experience that just can't be quantified by some kind of feature matrix, i.e. "does it have auto compilation"? I'm an ex-hard-core IntelliJ user and I have to say that even way back in version 6 IntelliJ had much more going for it than Eclipse in terms of OOTB functionality and user experience. The main reason that I left IntelliJ frankly was for EMF. Since then I'm glad I made the switch; the Eclipse ecosystem is rich and high quality and I don't like being tied to a single vendor. But if you haven't tried IntelliJ you are missing out on a really brilliant and thoughtful piece of software. I think it's interesting that they have a community edition out now -- in this case responding to what Eclipse has to offer. Imagine if you could put the best from both approaches together.

Robert Konigsberg said...

@Phillip, that's great and you may be right. I'd rather find out what's good about IDEA than presume it's a piece of crap. I can tell you there are plenty of colleagues I know that say the same things about Eclipse. I think maybe this post was not for you.

@zx I agree. I'd like to know more about the marketplace, gimme some time.

@Miles, that sounds nice, and such principles are likely what the next great workbench will be built from. What are some of the can't miss features of IDEA?

Miles Parker said...

Again I haven't used it in over three years so I'm sure there is a lot of new stuff. You know it's sort of un-quantifiable and so I'm going to have to be vague and suggest as you did that people check it out themselves..

Basically it has to do with coding productivity. Code-completion, investigation and browsing are simple more powerful and better integrated. Even something as simple as completing a for loop works better, and somehow the choice of keys and behavior for refactoring seemed more seamless. I still feel like I'm not quite as productive on day to day coding as I was using IntelliJ, but I'd say the quantifiable difference is pretty small. Mostly it's a matter of having more fluidity and naturalness in dealing with changes to code.