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After a decade of using Eclipse, I switched to IntelliJ IDEA - here is my experience

Initial journey with Eclipse

When I started learning Java, I used to write code in notepad. And when I started developing a Swing UI project, I switched to NetBeans. Briefly, I also used DrJava. Only when I started writing Java code professionally, that I started using Eclipse.

Eclipse felt much better than any of the IDEs I had used previously. I was more than happy for Eclipse to autogenerate code for me for getters, setters, etc. (pre lombok days). Also, it integrated beautifully with build tools like Ant and Maven. I had integrated my local server in it and on every code change, code was automatically deployed to server. Though, over the course of time Eclipse started to feel a bit clunky and slow, but still it was the best Java IDE for me.

Rendezvous with IntelliJ IDEA

A lot of people suggested me to try out IntelliJ IDEA and how it is THE best Java IDE, and much better than Eclipse. I tried IntelliJ IDEA couple of times and both the times I felt lost, and abandoned the pursuit. Only recently I seriously started feeling that Eclipse is indeed very slow and it is decreasing my productivity. I was also using VSCode for frontend development during this time and started wondering why can't Java have a cool & fast IDE like VSCode. Initially, I thought of using VSCode for Java development but I wanted to give IntelliJ IDEA one more try. I downloaded community edition of IntelliJ IDEA and read this awesome guide about Eclipse to IntelliJ IDEA migration. And I took an oath that I will use IntelliJ IDEA for at least 1 week for all my professional work and will NOT use Eclipse during this week.

Initial few days was full of struggle (though Eclipse keymap on IntelliJ was a life saver!). I was struggling to use even basic features which I was so used to doing in Eclipse. And biggest challenge was to adjust to the fact that there is NO NEED TO SAVE CODE CHANGES. During that 1 week, every time I felt like a Eclipse's feature is missing, I used to google about it.

So, what was my final verdict at the end of first week?

I was blown away!

IntelliJ IDEA is overall a much better product than Eclipse. Though it starts slow just like Eclipse, but once it has started and indexed your project, it is very fast! There is no concept of workspace, you can open multiple projects in different windows which I find much better than a workspace overflowing with multiple projects. Also, the preinstalled dark theme is much better than any dark theme of Eclipse. There are tons of code refactoring features. I can go on and on about IntelliJ IDEA..

So, If you are a Java developer and have not used IntelliJ IDEA ever, I strongly advise you to try it out. Do read Eclipse to IntelliJ IDEA migration and switch to Eclipse keymap to make the transition smoother!

And I would like to thank the warhorse Eclipse who has served me for a decade! Though, there are use cases for which Eclipse is better than IntelliJ but for now Intelij fulfills my needs and I am going to use IntelliJ IDEA for my Java development!

Happy coding!

Top comments (2)

jimbills profile image
James H, (Jim) Bills, Jr.

I agree.

I have used Eclipse since 2.5x and was impressed with the switch to OSGi when 3.0 came out. This gave it a great technical underpinning but higher level design decisions has prevented it the ability to evolve. With the success of Rich Client Platform, its architectural basis, there is a large body software providing huge inertia preventing its developing modern features. IntelliJ IDEA on the the other hand is not an application platform. Instead, its development can concentrate on useful IDE features.

On the GTK Linux version of Eclipse the irritating UI problems. It is also hamstrung by it overly restrictive concept of a Project and what the developer is allowed to see within the Project, even when all filtering disabled. It has become an Infuriating Development Environment.

With the release of Fedora 35, Eclipse was dropped, forcing me to finally look beyond the distribution for an IDE for my Java development. I have switched to VS Code for Python and Web development but I have yet to find a set of plug-ins for it to meet my Java coding requirements.

IntelliJ has snappy refactoring, code completion, and other code assist, outstripping Eclipse.

jam65st profile image
Jaime A. Mendez

IntelliJ IDEA is awesome for working with any language!!!