Java first appeared on the scene in 1995. Touted as one of the “write once, run anywhere” languages. Java was expressly designed for use in the distributed environment of the internet, but in recent years has become one of the more popular languages for developing mobile apps on the Android platform.
To best develop with the Java language, you should have an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to help make your life a bit easier. Even if you plan on working with an outsource Java development company, such as BairesDev, you’ll still need the tools for in-house development. Of course, not every IDE is created equal. Some of these tools offer more features, while some focus on making the task as simple and painless as possible.
Let’s take a look at some of the best IDEs for the Java programming language. Before you dive into this list, you might first want to better acquaint yourself with what Java is. For that, give our article “What is Java?” a read. You might also want to take a look at “What Types of Projects Can Be Developed Using Java?” to get a better idea on what exactly Java can do. Finally, take a look at the Java services offered by BairesDev.
And now, let’s dig into some of the best Java IDEs on the market.
BlueJ is a free Java IDE designed specifically for beginners and used by millions around the globe. One thing to consider, before installing this IDE, is that it was primarily designed for educational purposes and small-scale software development. However, that shouldn’t put you off, as BlueJ is widely used by Java veterans (who swear by this platform). But if you’re new to Java, BlueJ should be the first IDE you ever consider, as BlueJ provides a unique environment that includes a coloring scheme for every element (such as classes, methods, loops, and if-else statements), and offers a very interactive graphical representation for classes. BlueJ includes features like syntax highlighting (though minimal), an extension-manager, git integration, and unit testing.
The one thing missing from BlueJ is code completion. But for new users, that shouldn’t be an issue. BlueJ uses Java 11+ (which requires a 64-bit operating system) and can be installed on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Eclipse is another IDE dedicated to Java. For many, this is the best IDE on the market. This particular IDE can be installed on the desktop (Linux, macOS, Windows) or can be used from the cloud (called Eclipse Che). One feature that appeals most to Java developers is the ability to manage different workspaces simultaneously. This makes working on multiple projects incredibly easy and efficient.
The one caveat to Eclipse is that it can consume a lot of resources on your system. When using this IDE, you might have to close other applications to prevent your machine from bogging down.
The Eclipse desktop client and the SaaS Cloud account are both free.
Codenvy is a commercial, cloud-based Java IDE, built on Eclipse Che, which offers three variants: Developer, Team, and Enterprise. Both Developer and Team variants have a free option, but if you want more RAM on the Developer version you’ll have to pay $10 USD/month. The free Team version gives you 3 developers, but if you’ll need more you’ll have to pay $20 USD/user/month. For information on the Enterprise edition, you’ll have to contact Codenvy.
Codenvy includes code completion, syntax highlighting, and refactoring. With Codenvy you can start a project in seconds and customize the IDE with plenty of optional extensions. Codenvy allows you to work online or offline and offers a command line interface for push, pull, and clone.
For team Java development, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Java IDE solution than Codenvy. Codenvy also offers one-click Docker environments, team onboarding and collaboration, and devops workspaces.
The Greenfoot Java IDE is another tool intended for educational purposes, specifically for high school and undergrad students. With a focus on two-dimensional graphic apps (such as simulations and games), Greenfoot is an outstanding option to inspire early Java developers.
Because it tends to be geared toward games, Greenfoot includes easy access to animated graphics and sound. This IDE also uses an interactive environment to explain abstractions and core concepts of object-oriented programming (such as class/object relationships, methods, object interaction, and parameters).
Although the Greenfoot interactive visual world might put off more experienced developers, anyone first attempting Java might welcome the ability to create “actors” which live in “worlds”, in order to build games and other graphical programs.
Greenfoot is free and can be installed on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
IntelliJ IDEA is one of the most popular IDEs for Java on the planet. There are two versions of this particular tool: A free community version (licensed under Apache 2) and a paid Ultimate edition.
This particular IDE allows developers to really deep dive into their projects with the help of cross-language refactoring, data flow analysis, chain completion, language injection, smart completion, Perforce integration, on-the-fly code analysis, integrated version control systems, and static member completion.
IntelliJ IDEA supports most Java frameworks and JVM-based programming languages (such as Kotlin, Groovy, and Scala).
IntelliJ IDEA can be installed on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced Java programmer, there are plenty of Integrated Development Environments for you to use. From this short list, you’ll probably find just the tool necessary to help take your Java programming skills to the next level.