I was in the same boat looking for a free IDE a couple of months back. I was a die hard VA fan (I still am) but I had to give it up because it does not have JDK 1.4 support.
So I tried NetBeans first and then Eclipse. I am finally using Eclipse now.
NetBeans: The main reason I did not like NetBeans was the lack of an "export" feature. Furthe, it maintains all the versions of a file in the same place and it is really difficult to export the classes or java files into a jar (or war as the case may be). I played with it for many days but was disappointed by too many NPEs.
So, I think it is good but needs a couple of more versions to be useful (for me, that is).
Eclipse: I don't like and use the GUI builders, so that was no issue for me. Eclipse GUI is definitely a lot more crisp and responsive than NetBean. I have been using it for past month now, and never got an NPE. The basic version, the one without any pugins is overall good.
Originally posted by David Hibbs:
I'd like to know what you think is lacking in Eclipse. Have you tried 2.0? IMHO Eclipse rules.
Problems with Eclipse:
1. I tried to get the Lomboz plugin to work and finally got it to work too (after a week of banging my head) but didn't like it at all. It needs so many settings and is so finicky. It seems, it needs more care than your own application that want to work on. So finally, I got rid of the Lomboz plugin and decided to sacrifice the Servlet debugging (there is no jsp debugging yet). I now use external Tomcat.
2. Eclipse has an export feature but it is tooo stupid (as compared to VAJ). In VAJ I can just click on a node and export just that whereever I want. Eclipse, however, exports the whole freaking directory structure. For example, In my project TestProj, I have src and bin for sources and classes. So when I export a java/class file to say c:\tomcat\webapps\testproj\WEB-INF\classes, it creates c:\tomcat\webapps\testproj\WEB-INF\classes\TestProj\bin\...
So, I am having a real pain in exporting the classes to my WEB-INF\classes directory.
Further, it does not even remember the previous "types" that I exported. So everytime I have to click more than a couple of controls to specify that I want to export only the class files.
3. Eclipse has TONS of plugins. However, I am not sure how useful they are. The only one that I needed was Lomboz for JSP/Servlet development and I didn't like it.
So, overall, neither NetBeans nor Eclipse is that great as some fans might claim. But then you can't complain...it's free. I hope it gets more
useful after a couple of versions.
BTW, JBuilder Enterprise 6.0/7.0 is pretty good. I use it at my office. It has internal Tomcat (for which don't have to set anything, it just works) and has EXCELLENT JSP debugging. Of course, it is not free. And looks like it can't be run on any other machine even with the license file
I think the Java World really really needs a powerful and smart IDE. MS VisualStudio?