NetBeans and Eclipse are both wonderfully-designed Java integrated development environments (IDEs). Both programs offer excellent debugging capabilities, open-source coding, plugins, and extensions. The major difference comes down to your goals as a programmer. NetBeans is easier to learn than Eclipse, but Eclipse can handle larger projects. When you know your goals, you’ll know your IDE.
The tech world is full of options—so much so that even your options have options. This is especially true when it comes to coding. Between narrowing down the programming languages you want to master and finding the right career path, you will run into hundreds of decisions as a developer.
Let’s get down to business and discuss one decision many Java developers have to make: NetBeans vs Eclipse, which is the best Java IDE for me?
What is an IDE?
IDE stands for “integrated development environment.” An IDE is a tool for programmers. It allows for more than just text editing. An IDE is a text editor, debugger, and compiler all in one. This makes for speedy programming with less editing time and stress.
IDEs tend to take up more CPU power and memory than the average text editor, and the sheer volume of features and capabilities can compromise efficient text editing. Therefore, some programmers and coders choose to stick with a basic text editor. Even so, IDEs are powerful tools as you learn how to code, develop your coding style, and determine what to do with your skills.
IDEs for Programming in Java
If you are looking to work specifically with Java, you’ll find that you need a particularly powerful program to tackle the abilities of the language. Java is a language with immense capabilities. It can take some time to compile. Especially if you have to write first in a text editor, then copy it to a compiler to check for mistakes.
Therefore, an IDE is the ideal when it comes to coding with Java. According to Java World, the most commonly-chosen IDEs for coding with Java are NetBeans, Eclipse, and IDEA. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just focus on comparing two of these: NetBeans and Eclipse.
NetBeans as Your IDE
NetBeans started in Prague as a student project to create a Java IDE. The project caught so much attention that the students successfully marketed it as a commercial project. In 1999, Sun Microsystems, the originator of Java, took a liking to NetBeans and struck a deal with the students. Sun Microsystems obtained NetBeans, and kept it open source. Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2010 and took over both Java and NetBeans. Oracle made NetBeans an official Java IDE.
NetBeans is more than just an IDE; it is a platform. It supports coding in HTML, Java, and CSS with a clean-cut structure designed to simplify the look of large projects.
NetBeans is ready to use out of the box. No extra plugins or extensions are necessary to increase usability. Since it is open source, there are thousands of other users that can help contribute to projects and concepts. And, as noted by NetBeans itself, they even have a developer support package to help you fix what the open-source community cannot.
Overall, NetBeans is an amazing, open-source Java IDE that allows for optimal functionality out of the box. It’s a free software supported by the same company that owns Java, which means NetBeans has fantastic Java support.
Eclipse as Your IDE
Eclipse was developed in the late 1990s in response to a rising need for an all-in-one editor. According to Iri, International Business Machines (IBM) designed Eclipse to handle text editing, compiling, and debugging on a more commercial scale. It didn’t take long for IBM to make Eclipse open source and give it a royalty-free license. Doing so allowed more companies to utilize the software on a commercial scale.
Eclipse formed the Eclipse Foundation. It’s a nonprofit creating a vendor-neutral source for implementing, sharing, and teaching the developments of the open-source code in Eclipse. The Eclipse Foundation is still active today. It aims to establish global collaboration of individuals and companies alike to create new innovations in and improve the commercial experience of Eclipse.
Eclipse is now commonly integrated in commercial settings. Eclipse was even an original competitor for Android App developers. The IDE is capable of handling large amounts of code in order to create powerful programs, applications, and extensions to improve the Eclipse experience. Like NetBeans, Eclipse is written in Java, so it’s capable of supporting nearly all operating systems, but it doesn’t limit its users to writing in Java.
Eclipse is designed with customization in mind, running off various extensions and plugins. The idea behind Eclipse is that out of the box it functions at the most “bare necessities” level. Eclipse’s extensions and plugins provide rich functionality. That functionality makes the Eclipse experience what it is.
Therefore, Eclipse’s learning curve can be steep if you are starting from little to no experience. However, if your goal is large-scale projects or app development, this learning curve is well worth climbing. Now that we have a better grasp of what’s going on with each of these popular Java IDEs, it’s time to compare NetBeans vs Eclipse head to head.
Comparing NetBeans vs Eclipse
Since both NetBeans and Eclipse are IDEs and both run off Java, you’d think there wouldn’t be too many differences between the two. While the list of differences is short, the nature of the differences will be a deciding factor over which IDE you choose to enhance your own programming experience.
NetBeans vs Eclipse: Out-of-the-Box Experience
The first major difference between the NetBeans and Eclipse is the out-of-the-box experience.
NetBeans is ready to go out of the box, complete with nice functional elements. It comes with easy-to-understand drag-and-drop modules and handy plugins available to the user before they even click a button.
Eclipse is, on the other hand, a rather barren program to begin with. This is because Eclipse offers a fully customizable experience, but that means it can be rather difficult to learn if you’re just beginning the learning process. When you’re working with Eclipse, you must first learn how to add plugins and extensions, as well as decide which ones to install.
NetBeans vs Eclipse: Project Size
Your project size will also affect your decision. NetBeans is a quick and fantastic IDE, but it’s not developed to the enterprising level that Eclipse is designed to handle. Keep your goals in mind when making your decision. NetBeans’ easier learning process may be appealing to you as you start out, especially since you’ll be starting with smaller projects. However, if your goal is to work on Android development or large scale projects, your future self will thank you for taking the time now to learn Eclipse.
Conclusion: NetBeans vs Eclipse
Overall, both NetBeans and Eclipse are high-functioning Java IDEs. So, when comparing NetBeans vs Eclipse, you simply need to determine what’s most important to you.
NetBeans is functional from the get-go and considerably easy to learn for the beginning coder. However, it can be a little rudimentary when it comes to editing larger projects.
Eclipse, on the other hand, is designed to handle larger projects in elegant fashion. It does have a steeper learning curve though, since it relies on the immediate adaptation of plugins and extensions to become the slick software it’s designed to be.
It’s hard to choose the wrong option, since both NetBeans and Eclipse are elegant and high functioning. So, gathering what you learned from this article, pick your favorite IDE and code away! You’re on the move to greatness, one line at a time.