No matter the language you speak or even write code in, anyone in the technology industry worth their stripes will agree that IDEs are worth using. This fact is true in Java too, but what is a Java IDE, and which is best for you?
In this post, you will discover what a Java IDE is and explore the top 15 best Java IDEs and why they are ranked so well. Furthermore, you will learn what features they offer and identify which will work best for your particular needs.
Let’s dive right in.
What is a Java IDE?
To answer this question, you need to understand what an IDE is. The acronym IDE stands for an integrated development environment, describing a suite of software and tools for development purposes. These tools and software work together in an IDE to streamline your development experience.
For each language, an IDE will look a little different. In Java, an IDE also includes a compiler needed to test, debug and run the Java software. This need contrasts with many other languages, which do not need compiling before you can run or test the code you’ve written. IDEs typically include tools valued in almost any language, such as an editor, console, previews, etc.
However, not all IDEs are created equal, and the benefits they offer may are not always present in other IDEs. Learning which features will aid you the most is typically the first place you should start when choosing the best IDE for your needs. With that said, let's explore the different Java IDEs available and their features.
Top 15 Java IDEs
Java IDEs come in many flavors and may or may not be available to you depending on your preferred development operating system — Windows, Mac, or Linux. So with that said, let’s start with my personal favorite cloud-based IDEs.
Java Cloud IDEs
Cloud-based IDEs are powerful and come with the added benefit of external processing. Cloud-based IDEs run entirely on an external server and are often compatible with many programming languages. This benefit means you can code remotely and don’t need to worry about your operating system requirements.
Pro Tip: These types of software are great for coding on the go and even on various devices since they run in a browser.
- All that is needed is a compatible web browser
- No need to download or install any dependencies
- Processing power is not an issue
- The operating system is not an issue
- Cloud file storage means your project is always accessible to you
Let’s look at some of the popular cloud IDEs available on the market.
1. Cloud9 IDE
- Code with just a browser.
- Real-Time Team coding.
- Remote coding anywhere.
- Direct terminal Access.
- Quickly start new projects.
2. OpenShift (Formerly Codenvy)
Built on the open Eclipse Che project, Red Hat OpenShift Dev Spaces uses Kubernetes and containers to provide any development or IT team member with a consistent, secure, and zero-configuration development environment. The experience is as fast and familiar as an integrated development environment on your laptop.
- Open-source standards.
- Container portability.
- Enhanced developer experience.
- Automated installation and upgrades.
- Edge architecture support.
- Multicluster management.
- Templates. Save frequently interview questions as container templates and share them instantly for an interview.
- Team Collaboration. Invite other teammates to collaborate with them during the interview.
- Shell access.
- Databases and SQL.
Java IDEs for all Operating Systems
Java IDEs are not all cloud-based, and cloud IDEs may not be the choice for you or your team. Moreover, your team may not be using the same operating systems to produce code for your project. With that fact in mind having an IDE compatible across platforms is very helpful and can take down barriers that previously hindered development.
Pro Tip: These IDEs are best for developers looking for feature-rich software development and OS independence.
4. IntelliJ IDEA
IntelliJ IDEA is an integrated development environment written in Java for developing computer software in Java, Kotlin, Groovy, and other JAR-based languages. It is produced by JetBrains and is available as an Apache 2 Licensed community edition and in a proprietary commercial edition.
- Higher developer productivity.
- Increased productivity in code maintenance.
- Onboarding efficiency.
- Improved code quality.
MyEclipse is a commercially available Java EE IDE created and maintained by the company Genuitec, a founding member of the Eclipse Foundation. MyEclipse is built upon the Eclipse platform and integrates proprietary and open-source code into the development environment.
- Latest modern web and enterprise technologies.
- Massively optimized interaction with app servers.
- Finely tuned developer experience.
- Live share code with integrated collaboration.
- No plug-ins are required, just download and code!
6. Apache NetBeans
NetBeans is an integrated development environment for Java. NetBeans allows applications to be developed from modular software components called modules. NetBeans runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Solaris.
- Solid and Robust.
- Fast editor.
- Productivity Features.
- Easy to customize.
- Distraction-free coding.
- Built-in profiler and Debugger.
- Maven Support.
- Great Community.
SlickEdit, previously known as Visual SlickEdit, is a cross-platform commercial source code editor, text editor, code editor, and Integrated Development Environment developed by SlickEdit, Inc.
- You can customize menu items.
- It enables you to open a file without typing a path.
- Easy to integrate Subversion, CVS, etc.
- You can expand a standard block structure.
- SlickEdit can automatically formats code when pasted.
- You can create multi-platform GUI dialogue boxes.
- This software automatically saves the file after a period of inactivity.
Best Beginner Friendly Java IDEs
These Java IDEs are amazing for beginners who don’t want to be overwhelmed with interfaces and features but instead would like to focus more on the code. They are lightweight and and highly functional, great for learning and for teaching they focus on simplicity and comprehension.
Pro Tip: These IDEs work great for beginners and are built with simplicity and ease of use in mind.
BlueJ is an integrated development environment for the Java programming language, developed mainly for educational purposes but also suitable for small-scale software development. It runs with the help of the Java Development Kit.
- Designed for teaching.
jGRASP is a development environment that includes the automatic creation of software visualizations. It produces static visualizations of source code structure and data structures at runtime.
- This tool offers a graphical debugger.
- The source code can be easily folded depending on CSD (Control Structure Diagram) structure.
- It provides syntax-based coloring.
- jGRASP has icons and menus for compiling, running, and debugging any program.
Greenfoot is an integrated development environment using Java or Stride designed primarily for high school and undergraduate educational purposes. It allows easy development of two-dimensional graphical applications, such as simulations and interactive games.
- Interactive Visual World
- Simple Programming IDE
- Real Java Code
- Teacher Resources
Best Java IDE
As a last point of interest, picking the best IDE for your needs is not always as straightforward as one might anticipate or hope. The reason for this is that it is largely subjective, especially with so many options available. So to help you get started the video below will help explain how to choose the right one to maximize your productivity.
Getting Started Choosing a Java IDE
Each of the above IDEs provides a complete list of benefits, yet each is unique. For example, Greenfoot is best used as a learning tool to help developers new to Java become familiar with the language. Other IDEs may focus more on benefits for the experienced developer or the developer on the go.