Eclipse vs IDEA Intellij Revisited

Posted by Tejus Parikh on July 24, 2006

It’s been two months into my new employment and I’ve found myself un-convinced by the IntelliJ-vengelicals. Which isn’t to say the IntelliJ-vengelicals don’t have a point.

For instance, Eclipse crashed on me today. I’ve never had that happen to me on IDEA. Also, IDEA does have better support of web-technologies, at least until you find the right plugins for Eclipse. Plus, IDEA lets you completely ignore certain files at the IDE level, without requiring you to add them to your version control ignore files.

As far as speed goes both are equally fast (or slow, depending on your perspective). Overall, I still believe that IntelliJ has a lot of nice little things going for it. But it’s those big major things that keep me on Eclipse.

In my mind, Eclipse’s strongest point is the version control view. Instead of a thinly veiled wrapper around the command line versions, the Eclipse view feels like a real tool. Nothing else that I’ve used so far makes as much sense. I can see what’s coming in, going out, and what’s in conflict and have a chance to review everything before I perform the action. The reduction in accidentally committed files is worth the move to Eclipse alone.

The second point is the one where I could see a bit of debate. Coming from the multiple desktop world of X11 window managers, I find Eclipse’s concept of a perspective much more suited to the way I work. The random tabs opening from all sides of the screen really began to irk me on IDEA. I like the fact that I have a different view when I’m editing source code, debugging it, or synchronizing it. To me, these are all distinctly different tasks, and I’m more comfortable in an IDE that acknowledges that.

Which brings me to the final point of contention with IntelliJ. Swing is a bear to look at for 8 hours a day. Granted, some of the swing themes aren’t bad looking, but the absense of anti-aliased fonts on most IntelliJ views gets annoying. Add that to the fact that Swing and Compiz don’t currently get along makes for a decidedly dot-com bubble era feel. Eclipse, of course, uses Gtk widgets on Linux, which means that if Gnome looks good, Eclipse looks good.

At the end of the day, both are good choices that come down to personal preference. However, I’m sticking to the one that works with Xgl and costs $500 less.

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Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: