Update: JPDF2HTM5 has been rebranded as BuildVu and JPDFForms has been rebranded as FormVu

I have a love/hate relationship with my IDE

For development I have access to 3 Java IDEs – Eclipse, IDEA and NetBeans, but for general development, I have tended to stick to IDEA.

I first got into IDEA about version 5 and I stuck with it because I found it by far the most productive IDE for writing pure Java. However, my relationship has been going downhill for sometime now. I still love the features it offers and the editing capabilities are second to none. But I have fallen out of love with it….

My problem is that it is now slow and bloated and I spend far too much time watching it reindex the workspace. It seems to use far too much memory for basic functions. I have quit most plugins and try to avoid running other programs but it still seems to struggle on my high end Mac. The final straw in our relationship came when it refused to run our PDF plugin in sandbox mode, throwing cryptic internal memory errors.

So for the last fortnight I have been eying up the alternatives. Both NetBeans and Eclipse have come a very long way in their development in the last few years. They are fast and there is a wealth of features – IDEA still has the better features but it is no longer the huge jump over its rivals.

I really like the simplicity of NetBeans over Eclipse. I just want to code Java so I don’t need the complexity of multiple perspectives. But I currently lack 2 critical features… I like to have a function to indent my lines correctly (I don’t want a full format) and I cannot find this on NetBeans. Also NetBeans seems to display my code incorrectly formatted. Code which is correctly indented in Eclipse/IDEA is not displayed as such with NetBeans – maybe I need to alter some setting. If I could find the answers to these questions, it would be my tool of choice. If you know the answers, please let me know.

That leaves Eclipse. It is fast, has a good set of editing features and I think the Marketplace is brilliant for finding interesting tools. I can live with its slightly clunky interface as it is fast.

I hope one day, I can rebuild my relationship with IDEA. But I am sorry, you’ve lost those sleek and efficient looks which made you so wonderful to spend time with. And I know that I am not alone.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your IDE? What do you prefer? Are you thinking of being unfaithful to your current partner?

After I wrote this article I investigated the issues in more depth and you can read what I found in the sequel article.

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.
Markee174

About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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