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IntelliJ vs Eclipse: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Paul Larkin - January 22, 2021

IntelliJ vs Eclipse is a long-running debate with no clear answer. Both provide many features to make development easier. IntelliJ is recommended for beginner programmers . Eclipse, on the other hand, is suitable for experienced programmers working on complex and larger projects. However, it is all a matter of preference and either resource is viable for Java development.

When you work as a software engineer , you often find yourself needing tools to help aid development. Integrated developer environments (IDE) such as IntelliJ and Eclipse aim to make dealing with those tasks an easy and quick experience.

Both IDEs are free for individual use. They have lots of proponents in the developer world, but which one wins in a head-to-head, IntelliJ vs Eclipse? Having a notion of both IDEs’ strengths and weaknesses allows you to determine which is best for your shop.

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IntelliJ vs Eclipse: A Guide

This guide is here to help app developers and web designers get a handle on these two favored IDEs. In this article, you get information on the resources each app requires, efficiency, the languages and frameworks they support, and licensing requirements. With our help, your search for a time-saving and low-cost IDE gets a kick in the pants and makes it across the finish line.

IntelliJ or Eclipse: Which is Easier to Use?

When using a new IDE, you want to jump right into it, make use of its features, and start developing. Ease of use is an important factor, especially if you plan to use the IDE for several months or even years to come.

It can be difficult to determine which IDE is best as everyone has their personal preference. However, most developers believe that IntelliJ is the better of the two for ease of us.

IntelliJ Gives You Everything You Need

IntelliJ comes out of the box with everything needed to get started. You can begin your projects immediately without worrying about additional materials.

The same cannot be said for Eclipse. In fact, many people consider Eclipse a loose connection of plugins rather than a proper IDE itself. While you can get the same result from downloading various plugins to Eclipse, it makes it more difficult and time-consuming to get started.

IntelliJ vs Eclipse: Performance

Which app requires more resources?

Veteran developers and coding bootcamp hopefuls might not share much in the way of common programming knowledge. But it doesn’t take a seasoned programmer to know that computer resources often require careful rationing. IDEs eat up spare resources and leave developers scrambling to complete their tasks with low memory or processing power. That’s why it’s essential to know what sorts of resources your new IDEs will consume.

IntelliJ IDE Resources

IntelliJ requires 2 GB minimum of RAM and at least 2.5 GB of disk space for install and cache space. Meanwhile, Eclipse requires a minimum of .5 GB RAM and 300 MB disk and cache space.

Eclipse IDE Resources

Eclipse comes up on top when it comes to having a light touch on your system resources. The IDE requires a minimum of .5 GB RAM and 300 MB disk and cache space. If resources are a priority at your shop, consider going with Eclipse. If resources are a priority at your shop, consider going with Eclipse.

Eclipse vs IntelliJ Efficiency

Efficient apps equal happy coders.

Writing the code is only part of a developer’s tasks. After you complete your work, you still get to wait for the code to compile or a build to finish. The less time you have to sit around and wait for your code to finish processing, the better; efficiency is a key factor when you shop around for a killer IDE. Short builds and compiles means more free time to focus on the next task.

Eclipse comes out on top in this category as well. Eclipse is more efficient when it comes to handling memory and creates far fewer objects in order to complete a task. More object creation results in higher processing and memory requirements. IntelliJ has lower throughput than Eclipse and potentially higher pause time, too. Efficiency isn’t everything, but every bit helps, and Eclipse has more potential for quicker and less resource-heavy processing.

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Supported Frameworks and Languages

Both apps offer support for many different environments and hold your hand to make the experience easier.

Frameworks and language support are crucial when you shop for an IDE to help streamline your programming. The most wonderful IDE the world has ever seen doesn’t do you a lick of good if you use an unsupported language or framework. Both Eclipse and IntelliJ have robust support for frameworks and programming languages, but they differ in the ones with which they can work.

IntelliJ supports the following out of the box:

  • Java
  • Groovy
  • Kotlin

It also has thousands of plugins available to add support for Dart, CLojure, Perl, Python, Scala, and more. However, some plugins require you to have the paid edition of the IntelliJ IDE.

Eclipse is a Java-based app and has no issue working with that language. It also offers plugins for more than a hundred frameworks and hundreds of languages. However, Eclipse’s plugins don’t get the same level of scrutiny as IntelliJ plugins and may cause interoperability issues.

In comparison, there is no clear winner. While Eclipse does give you more options, each plugin comes with its own risks. You’ll have to find one that doesn’t hamper performance. IntelliJ has limitations on language support, but rest assured knowing that the plugins run well. If diversity in programming languages is important to you, stick with Eclipse, otherwise, either IDE is fine.


The ideal IDE makes your life easier without costing an arm and a leg.

Money is one of the main concerns of every business around, and that extends to development shops. Licensing and subscriptions eat into a software team’s budget in a hurry and result in unforeseen shortages and crunch situations. That’s why it’s important to select an IDE that doesn’t keep your team from spending on other vital resources. So, which IDE of our two has the least bite on your wallet?

While both of the IDEs are free to use, IntelliJ is open core instead of being open source. That means that the base product is free to use, but versions with more features and plugin support will cost you. Eclipse, however, is entirely open-source, which means developers have more freedom to create plugins that work for others without costing a thing. If you want to save as much cash as possible, Eclipse might be your go-to app.

IntelliJ vs Eclipse Feature Comparison

Both IntelliJ and Eclipse have several features that make them preferred IDEs amongst developers. These are the differences between their features. Consider them when making your final decision on which IDE is best for you.


Eclipse has over 1200 plugins available. IntelliJ only offers 750 at the time of writing. The difference may not matter to beginners. Experienced developers might have difficulties finding the support they need with IntelliJ.


As mentioned before, Eclipse performs faster when it comes to handling larger projects. IntelliJ does beat Eclipse in performance when working on existing projects.


Autocomplete is one of the more significant features of an IDE. The IntelliJ autocomplete function smartly chooses autocomplete options that fit your code. Eclipse provides you everything related to what you’re writing.

For example, writing the letters “if” shows every potential thing you could write in your code that starts with those letters, including unnecessary listings.


When debugging in Eclipse, you must evaluate the entire expression. IntelliJ allows you to evaluate part of the expression. It also gives the ability to edit the expression in the dialogue window and evaluate it again.

Which IDE is Right for You?

Both IDEs get the job done and offer plenty of assistance to get your development tasks completed. Eclipse comes out on to in many categories, particularly performance when it comes to large projects.

By comparison, IntelliJ is the preferred option when it comes to debugging and autocomplete features. This IDE does lack regarding plugins.

The best thing about these two IDEs is that either is a good option. Whether you’re an experienced developer or programming for the first time , you can’t go wrong with IntelliJ or Eclipse.

Think carefully about what you’re developing, what you need, and the way in which you plan to create it. Afterward, choose the best IDE based on what you plan to make and the above information.

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Paul Larkin

About the author: Paul Larkin has years of experience in the tech industry and writes about cybersecurity and future of work.

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