Which IDE: Netbeans or Eclipse?

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August 4, 2017

A Comparison Between The Java IDEs: Netbeans and Eclipse

By Arun Kumar Biswal

Unlike other general-purpose programming languages, Java is used widely by developers for building desktop, web, and mobile applications. But developers frequently look for smart integrated development environments (IDEs), frameworks, and tools to write applications in Java efficiently and rapidly. The developers can further write code quickly and efficiently by using an array of Java IDEs. Both NetBeans and Eclipse are hugely popular Java IDEs.

Despite being open source, NetBeans is the official IDE for Java platform. The features and tools provided by NetBeans enable developers to build a variety of desktop, web, and mobile applications with Java 8. The IDE further supports an array of technologies – HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and C/C++ – in addition to Java. The editors, analyzers and converters provided by NetBeans further make it easier for programmers to upgrade their legacy applications to the latest version of Java.

Eclipse is written in Java, and designed with features to simplify Java application development. The developers can further extend the IDE easily by using a variety of plug-ins. They can further use specific plug-ins to develop applications by integrating Java with other popular programming languages including Ruby, Perl, PHP, Scala and Groovy. Also, Eclipse is an open source IDE, and supported by an active community. Hence, it becomes essential for developers to compare NetBeans and Eclipse based on their key features and functionality.

Understanding Important Differences between NetBeans and Eclipse

Java 8 Support: The version 8 of Java comes with several new features and enhancements including lambda expressions, new date/time API, and integrated Nashhorn JavaScript Engine. Hence, many developers prefer writing applications in Java 8 to avail the new features in Java 8. NetBeans is the official Java IDE, and supports Java SE 8 fully. On the other hand, Eclipse implements the new Java 8 language enhancements through Eclipse Compiler for Java (ECJ). The developers have to follow a series of steps to take advantage of the new language features provided by Java 8.

Java 8 Migration: Oracle recommends Java developers to use NetBeans. Hence, NetBeans support the latest version of Java almost immediately after its release. Also, it provides an array of tools to make it easier for developers to migrate their legacy applications to the most recent version of Java. The developers can avail the code editors, analyzers, and converters provided by NetBeans to move their applications to Java 8 quickly and smoothly. But Eclipse does not provide any robust tools to simplify Java 8 migration.

Number of Plug-ins: Eclipse scores over NetBeans in the category of plug-ins. Many developers opt for Eclipse to add functionalities to the application easily by availing the plug-ins provided by it. However, the developers often have to use several third-party plug-ins for Eclipse. The quality and performance of these third-party plug-ins differ. On the other hand, NetBeans enables users to avail a set of stable and quality plug-ins.


User Interface: The user interface of NetBeans is designed based on, whereas the user interface of Eclipse is designed based on SWT. Swift is a Java native lightweight toolkit, whereas SWT is a Java for the underlying toolkit of the system. Many developers find the user interface of NetBeans to simpler and friendlier than the user interface of Eclipse. The simple user interface of NetBeans further makes it easier for beginners to learn and use the IDE without putting extra time and effort. But the Java programmers have to put extra time and effort to work with Eclipse efficiently.

Configuration: NetBeans comes with several built-in out-of-box functionalities. The out-of-box functionality enables users to configure the IDE quickly, and accomplish basis programming tasks without any delay. But Eclipse is not designed with many out-of-box functionalities. The users have to install and configure Eclipse plug-ins to accomplish common tasks and build applications efficiently. These plug-ins make it difficult for beginners to configure and use the IDE within a short amount of time.

Working with Other Programming Languages: Both Java IDEs enable developers to work with other popular technologies and programming languages. NetBeans supports HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and C/C++ along with Java. Likewise, Eclipse also allows programmers to integrate Java with a number of popular programming languages including Python, Perl, PHP, Groovy and Scala. But NetBeans is designed as a tool-based IDE, and enables programmers to work with other technologies through specific projects. Eclipse requires programmers to install and configure specific plug-ins to work with individual technologies. Hence, [http://www.mindfiresolutions.com/java-jsp-servlets-development.htm]Java developers find it easier to work with other programming languages while using NetBeans.

Support for Maven: Both NetBeans and Eclipse support Maven – a widely used project management tool. The complete build lifecycle framework provided by Maven makes it easier for programmers o automate the entire build infrastructure. But many programmers find it easier to work with Maven while using NetBeans. They can run Maven goals directly inside NetBeans. Likewise, they can use a console to view the output of Maven commands directly in NetBeans. NetBeans further makes it easier for users to update Maven dependencies, launch Maven builds, and create new Maven projects.

Android App Development: Java programming language is used widely for developing mobile apps for Android – the mobile platform with largest worldwide market share. The statistics posted on various websites depict that most Android app developers prefer Eclipse to NetBeans. In addition to being simple and fast, Eclipse also provides a standard UI toolkit – Swing – which can be integrated seamlessly into the Android applications. Also, a wide variety of plug-ins provided by Eclipse SDK make it easier for developers to build robust Android apps without putting extra time and effort. However, NetBeans also provides several features and tools to simplify Android app development.

Source Code Formatting: Both Java IDEs have the capability to automatically format the source code of application written in Java. But many programmers find the Java code formatter provided by Eclipse to be more efficient than the code formatting options provided by NetBeans. While using Eclipse, the programmers can invoke the Java code formatter directly by using the shortcut C-S-F. Hence, they can format the Java code in a flexible and efficient way.

On the whole, both NetBeans and Eclipse are open source and cross platform Java IDEs. But Eclipse is supported by IBM, whereas NetBeans is supported by Oracle. Each IDE provides several innovative features and tools to simplify and speedup Java application development. But the developers must evaluate the pros and cons of each Java IDE according to the specific needs of each project.

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