When it comes to the list of best IDEs, there is no doubt in putting Eclipse and Intellij there. Along with NetBeans, Eclipse and IntelliJ form the big 3 IDEs of Java development. However, often the two are pitched against one another (IntelliJ vs Eclipse) every now and then.
Interestingly, both IDEs came to see the light of day back in 2001 i.e. almost 2 decades ago. Now, both have succeeded in becoming trendsetters in the IDE niche. Although initially released as Java IDEs, each has added support for many programming languages and other technologies over the years.
IntelliJ is a beginner-friendly IDE that offers out-of-the-box support for Java, Groovy, Kotlin, and XML. It also provides support for other programming languages via plugins. Eclipse offers out-of-the-box support for Java only but supports more programming languages than IntelliJ IDEA via its extensive plugin system that makes it a better choice for experienced developers.
Today, we will be comparing Eclipse and IntelliJ and discussing which one to choose when you have to make a pick among the two. Let’s start with the introduction of the two popular IDEs.
What is IntelliJ?
IntelliJ IDEA is a dedicated Java IDE developed by JetBrains. It is among the best Java IDEs. The Java IDE focuses on developer productivity and flaunts an ergonomic design. It provides support for JVM-based languages to the likes of Groovy and Kotlin.
To fulfill different user requirements, IntelliJ IDEA comes in 2 variants; Ultimate and Community Edition. The IDEs are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
The Community Edition is the free and open-source version of IntelliJ. It is meant for hobbyists, amateur developers, and students. Being open-source means that its source code can be tweaked as per the requirements.
IntelliJ Ultimate is the commercial, production-ready avatar of IntelliJ IDEA. It has all the features available in the Community Edition plus an extensive set of advanced features – like profiling tools and support for SQL and database tools – and immediate customer support. It is meant to be used in production and professional environments.
To help educators and learners, JetBrains offers a special fine-tuned variant of the Java IDE dubbed IntelliJ IDEA Edu. Like the Community Edition, it is free and open-source. Expedia, Netflix, Samsung, Twitter, and Volkswagen are some of the high-profile clients of IntelliJ IDEA.
Features of IntelliJ
Eclipse is a popular Java development IDE originally authored by IBM but now developed by Eclipse Foundation. It is written in C and Java. In addition to Linux, Windows, and macOS, Eclipse also comes in the form of a web-based IDE – via Dirigible, Eclipse Che, Orion, and Theia – that frees developers to work from anywhere.
It is an extensive project that features a wide range of IDEs designed for specific purposes. For example, Eclipse Dirigible is a low-code platform for the development of business applications. Another example is Eclipse Orion that lets developers perform web development right from their web browsers.
Eclipse is better suited for experienced developers thanks to its exhaustive set of plugins. Moreover, it requires low system resources and delivers a great performance. However, adding more and more plugins will make it bulkier.
Eclipse has a huge clientele that includes big names to the likes of Arduino, Ericsson, Google, IBM, and Red Hat. Interestingly, some of its clientele are also its contributors.
What is Eclipse?
IntelliJ IDEA comes with all the benchmark features that are expected from a top IDE. This includes code completion, multi-language support, inbuilt debugger, syntax highlighting, support for frontend and backend frameworks, and VCS integration.
Support for markup languages – like HTML and XML -, Android, JavaFX, and Swing frameworks, build automation tools like Ant and Maven, built-in bytecode viewer, and Docker is also available in IntelliJ IDEA.
Additionally, the Ultimate version of the IDE features advanced abilities like support for web scripting and style sheet languages, Spring frameworks, Selenium, npm, profiling tools, Tomcat, and Kubernetes, and the ability to detect redundant code blocks.
Features of Eclipse
The leading IDE offers a galore of industry-standard features that includes IntelliSense (autocomplete/content assist), extensive plugin support, support for a wide range of programming languages, keyboard shortcuts, and a built-in debugger.
Eclipse offers ready-to-use tools for Java development. For providing support for other programming languages, it comes with an extensive plugin system. Moreover, the IDE is backed by a giant active community that offers support for development issues via thousands of forums.
An outstanding feature that makes Eclipse stand out among the competition is the inclusion of a JRE in the Eclipse 2021-09 (4.21) version.
The main difference between Eclipse and IntelliJ lies in their intended use. While IntelliJ is a Java IDE for professionals and students, Eclipse focuses on open-source development with its wide range of optimized IDEs. Compared to IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse comes in 40+ languages. Also, it is a bigger project than IntelliJ IDEA. While IntelliJ focuses primarily on Java and JVM languages (like Kotlin and Scala) Eclipse offers support for non-JVM languages too, such as C, C++, Julia, and Perl. IntelliJ IDEA offers the Community Edition as the production-ready variant of its IDE while no commercial IDE is offered by Eclipse. Unlike IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse is also available as a cloud-based IDE.
IntelliJ vs Eclipse
Here, we present a simple Eclipse vs IntelliJ comparison table to help you better digest the differences between the two top Java IDEs:
|First released||November 2001||January 2001|
|Developer||IBM (original author),Eclipse Foundation||JetBrains|
|Licensing||Eclipse Public License (EPL) 2.0 and Eclipse Distribution License (EDL)||Free (Apache 2.0) and Commercial licenses|
|Programming languages supported||Ada, ABAP, C, C++, C#, Clojure, COBOL, D, Erlang, Fortran, Groovy, Haskell, JS, Julia, Lasso, Lua, NATURAL, Perl, PHP, Prolog, Python, R, Ruby, Rust, Scala, and Scheme.||Dart, Groovy, JSON, HTML, Java, Kotlin, Scala, Python, Rust, XML, XPath, XSL, and YAML in Community Edition and these plus ActionScript, CoffeeScript, CSS, Go, JRuby, JS, PHP, Ruby, SQL, and TypeScript in Ultimate.|
|Written in||C and Java||Java and Kotlin|
|Number of languages available in||44 (Including Arabic, Czech, French, German, Hindi, Nepali, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Vietnamese)||1 (English)|
|Variants||Eclipse IDE, Theia, Orion, Eclipse Che, Eclipse Dirigible, and more||IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition (free and open-source)IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate (commercial)IntelliJ IDEA Edu (free and open-source)|
|Storage size||Almost 300MB||2.5GB|
|Memory requirement (minimum)||0.5GB||2GB|
|Availability of JRE||Yes||No|
|Recommended for||Advanced programmers and complex projects||Beginners and existing projects|
|Out-of-the-box support for programming languages (other than Java)||None||GroovyKotlinXML/XSL|
|Interoperability issues caused by plugins||Yes||No|
|Cost||Free||Starting from $49.9/month ($499/year)|
|Debugging style||Entire expression||A specific part of the expression|
IntelliJ or Eclipse: Which IDE is Right for You?
Making a pick between Eclipse and IntelliJ is determined by a number of factors that include the case of implementation, technologies that one needs to work with, level of expertise, and personal preferences.
As both IDEs are fine-tuned for Java development, choosing either of them will fulfill the purpose. Hence, the decision of choosing one of them is usually influenced by other factors. For example, if you want to save money as much as possible then Eclipse is the best option.
That’s because it is completely free-to-use and thus, you can add required functionality to it by designing plugins. Also, as it has an exhaustive set of plugins, most of the functionality that you require might be already available as plugins.
Although IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition is free, the advanced functionality that you might be looking for is available only in the Ultimate edition that comes with a price tag.
If you want an IDE that is capable of delivering superior performance for complex projects while going soft on resources then Eclipse is the perfect fit. IntelliJ IDEA is the ideal option for beginners and projects that are not too complex. Also, the IDE is preferred, if, in addition to Java, you need to work with JVM-based languages like Groovy and Kotlin.
Depending on your requirements, you need to make a pick among the two. To decide, underline all your requirements and then choose the one that you find the most suitable.
IntelliJ and Eclipse are two of the leaders in the integrated development environment market. While making lives easier for developers, they have revolutionized the way modern IDEs work simultaneously by constantly pushing the boundaries of what conventional IDEs are supposed to do. In the end, if you are still not sure about which one to choose, we would suggest getting your hands dirty with both the popular Java IDEs to know which one works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I switch from Eclipse to IntelliJ?
A: Yes, you can switch from Eclipse to IntelliJ and vice-versa. However, before making the switch ensure that doing so has some benefit otherwise, it will only consume time and effort, optimizing which is the aim of both the IDEs.
Q: Which Java IDE is best for beginners?
A: For absolute beginners, IntelliJ IDEA is the ideal fit. This is because it is less extensive than Eclipse, which is more suitable for experienced developers.
Q: Can IntelliJ run Eclipse project?
A: Yes, IntelliJ IDEA is capable of running Eclipse projects. In fact, IntelliJ automatically finds the ones available on your system and puts them under the Eclipse Projects tab in the welcome screen. In case IntelliJ is not able to automatically detect the Eclipse projects you have, you can import the same from the File->Open option in the main menu.
Q: Is Eclipse more powerful than IntelliJ?
A: Eclipse is better than IntelliJ for large and complex projects. This is because it indexes the entire project during startup. IntelliJ IDEA, however, outshines Eclipse when it comes to dealing with existing projects. In this case, IntelliJ IDEA delivers better performance than Eclipse.
Q: Is Eclipse free to use?
A: Eclipse IDE is open-source and free-to-use. Also, it comes in many variants. You can download the popular IDE and then tweak it to match your requirements or start using it right away.
Q: How much does IntelliJ cost?
A: IntelliJ IDEA Edu and IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition are free to use and thus, cost nothing. However, IntelliJ offers a premium variant in the form of IDEA Ultimate. Pricing for the same starts at $49.9 per month and $499 per year.