What’s the Best Java IDE? NetBeans vs. Eclipse vs. IntelliJ

An IDE (Integrated Development Environment) makes programming more accessible than writing your code on a text editor. It pushes various code suggestions and underlines the errors in your program, eventually making you an efficient programmer.

Java is a widely-used programming language of all time, given its excellent functionality and widespread acceptance as a development method. There are many great Java-based IDEs like NetBeans, Eclipse, and IntelliJ.

Let’s take a look at each of these development environments in detail.


NetBeans has a large user base of Java developers, including professional developers for enterprise, embedded systems, web, mobile, desktop applications, and more. Oracle backs NetBeans as their official IDE for Java 8 and beyond.

You can find plug-ins for all major frameworks on this development platform. Its free and open-source nature makes it a perfect fit for students and learners. Additionally, you can also use the environment for other purposes, given its excellent functionality. Interestingly, NetBeans started as a student project in the Czech Republic in 1996; however, its first version was released in early 2014.

NetBeans is entirely written in Java and supports Windows, Mac, Oracle, Solaris, and Linux. The development platform offers excellent features for the end-to-end software development life cycle that begins from requirement analysis, application designing, development, and goes all the way to debugging, profiling, and testing. Compiling, running, and deploying applications is also way efficient on NetBeans.


  • Smart Reader: Error correction is tedious in most IDEs, but NetBeans changes this with its Smart Reader feature. The feature detects errors from your code and pushes some suggestions for debugging purposes. NetBeans comes equipped with a light text editor compared to other development environments, making it easier on your hardware.
  • Built-In MAVEN Support: NetBeans is perfect for developers who want to benefit from MAVEN in their projects. The development environment comes with built-in support for MAVEN so that you don’t have to import MAVEN from other sources.
  • Support for Latest Java Technologies: The power of NetBeans lies in its elaborate feature set. It supports all the advanced features and methods that Java supports, making development easy on the platform. The code editor, analyzer, and code converter are some of the many great tools NetBeans brings.
  • Support for Multiple Languages: NetBeans primarily focuses on Java development, but you can always use it for other languages. The platform supports many languages, like JSP, JavaScript, HTML, XML, and others on the client-side. It offers C, C++, and PHP for the server-side.
  • Easy-to-Use: The user interface is amicable, and it won’t take much time to get used to the environment, making it perfect for beginners and first-time coders. The community support at NetBeans is highly responsive, and you can always check if your issue has already been discussed on the online forums.

Limitations of NetBeans

  • Memory Usage: While NetBeans comes with a lightweight code editor, the platform can still turn into a memory hog if you run a complex program. System optimization is not the best among Java-based IDEs and can do wonders with a bit of improvement.
  • Limited Official Support: You won’t find a lot of official documentation from NetBeans on the internet. You will need to resort to online communities to find a fix to your issues. This is not much of a problem, as the community support is excellent, given the large userbase.

Eclipse IDE

IBM developed Eclipse and released it in late 2001. Eclipse features several plug-ins and features that aim to make the development swifter. None of the other IDEs come close to the number of plug-ins that Eclipse features. Junit, testing, MAVEN, Spring Framework, and Subversion are popular plug-ins on Eclipse.


  • Code Insight: The code insight feature is handy while writing a program on Eclipse. It points out the errors and shows you code suggestions to make the coding process faster. You can press the Tab key, and the recommendation gets implemented onto your code, which saves you from repeatedly typing redundant parts of your code.
  • Advanced Tools: Eclipse is a feature-rich Java-based IDE with excellent offerings, like the Docker feature. Docker helps you organize your stack of packages. Eclipse also supports Git for tracking your existing files.
  • Support for Multiple Languages: Eclipse is primarily used for Java development, but it supports other languages like C, C++, PHP, HTML, and more. You can find plug-ins related to all these programming languages in Eclipse to make the programming process efficient.

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Using Interfaces in Java

Cons of Using Eclipse

  • Eclipse needs to restart every time you install a plug-in. This can become a menace when your project needs numerous plug-ins.
  • Eclipse uses exceptionally high memory, especially while running bigger programs.
  • This IDE is not known for its speed. It can sometimes take more time than other light IDEs to run a program.

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ is a top-tier Java-based IDE that large enterprises and businesses use. The development environment offers unique enterprise-level features, like intelligent source code indexing, reliable refactoring, and dynamic code analysis.

The IDE is available in two variants: the free community version and the advanced ultimate version. The advanced version is tailor-made to suit the needs of enterprises.


  • Analysis Data Flow: IntelliJ intelligently creates a list of symbols while you type your code which you can use by pressing the Enter key. This massively reduces the code development time cycle.
  • Navigate to Duplicates: This feature finds the redundancies in your programs and underlines them for you. For example, it tells you if you have declared the same variable twice. This way, you don’t need to find the redundancies manually.
  • Quick Fixes: IntelliJ shows a bulb-shaped symbol when you make an error while writing the code. The IDE environment fixes the bugs automatically when you press the bulb icon.
  • Version Control: The version control feature helps you track your project by extending its support for GitHub. This feature is a lifesaver for open-source developers who use GitHub for developing their projects.

Cons of Using IntelliJ

IntelliJ takes time to index your code, especially in more elaborate projects. You cannot use most of the functions until your code gets indexed completely.

The plug-in support is excellent in IntelliJ, but the IDE keeps many unnecessary plug-ins on by default.

IntelliJ is the most feature-rich IDE for Java development, which also means it is a memory hog. The minimum system requirements are also four times greater than the other two IDEs on this list.

Related: Java Input and Output: A Beginner's Guide

NetBeans vs. Eclipse vs. IntelliJ

Java IDEs make the development process efficient with their handy features. All three IDEs on this list are unique and choosing an IDE boils down to your requirements.

NetBeans is the perfect IDE for beginners, thanks to its friendly UI and excellent support. IntelliJ has a nifty feature set for enterprise users. Eclipse is a versatile IDE that can perfectly serve the needs of a beginner and an enterprise.

Author: Wini Bhalla

Source: Wini Bhalla.” What’s the Best Java IDE? NetBeans vs. Eclipse vs. IntelliJ”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/best-java-ide-netbeans-eclipse-intellij-compared/

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