Top 5 Free IDEs for Java Development

Free Java IDEs

Top 5 Free IDEs for Java Development

Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world due to its main advantages – portability and multi-platform support. If you are a Java developer, or just getting started, you should definitely know some Java IDEs on which you can code your applications.

IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment which makes it easy to write code and develop applications. It’s like a utility box that contains all the necessary tools to write better code.

Java can be a complex language to learn (NextStacks makes it very easy to learn Java though), and it’s even more difficult to remember all the syntax. And, that’s when comes a Java IDE that offers features like live editing, which validates the code as you type. It also offers a test and debug environment through the use of breakpoints and watchpoints.

Some necessary features that an ideal Java IDE should have, are:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Code refactoring
  • Powerful debugger
  • Built-in server
  • Breakpoints setting
  • Parameter hints
  • Undo/redo features

There are many Java IDEs out there for every purpose and every need, but let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones.

Java IDEPlatformsReleasedGet Started
EclipseWindows, Linux, macOS2001Get started
IntelliJ IDEAWindows, Linux, macOS2001Get started
NetBeansWindows, Linux, macOS, BSD1997Get started
BlueJWindows, Linux, macOS1999Get started
JDeveloperWindows, Linux, macOS2005Get started
Best Free IDEs for Java

Best Free Java IDEs

With the evolution of Java and its higher adoption by developers, it is important to look at some of the most popular IDEs for Java.

1. Eclipse

Eclipse is a free and open-source IDE that is considered to be one of the best in the market. It’s also popular for its cloud edition that lets you develop Java applications directly from the web browser.

Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS

First Released: 2001

Features of Eclipse IDE for Java

  • Supports automatic syntax highlighting and validation
  • Provides various readymade code templates
  • Offers a powerful and robust debugger
  • Offers an interface with drag-n-drop facility
  • Supports various plugins and extensions
  • Allows the user to set breakpoints
  • Supports code refactoring

Get Started:

2. IntelliJ IDEA

With the features like intelligent code assistant, IntelliJ IDEA is also considered to be one of the best IDEs Java beginners. The community edition of the IDE is free and open source.

Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS

First Released: 2001

Features of IntelliJ IDEA for Java

  • Supports cross-language advanced code refactoring
  • Offers smart code completion and real-time code analysis
  • Quick duplicate detection and smart completion
  • Navigation, search, and keyboard shortcuts for everything
  • Lets you easily use static methods and constants
  • Offers data flow analysis and language injection

Get Started:

3. NetBeans

NetBeans is another open-source Java IDE that contains all the necessary modules for all kinds of Java development. The IDE supports the development of various types of Java applications like JavaFX, Java ME, Java SE, etc.

Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS, BSD

First Released: 1997

Features of NetBeans IDE for Java

  • Highlights source code syntactically and semantically
  • Supports the development of all kinds of Java applications (SE, ME, Web, EJB, Mobile Applications)
  • Offer a powerful visual debugger
  • Cross-platform and multiple language support
  • New and improved support for Bean Validation
  • Offers parameter hints just by typing $ symbol
  • Makes it easy to see the structure of the Java class

Get Started:

4. BlueJ

BlueJ is the most beginner-friendly IDE for Java development. Generally, it is used to develop small Java applications and it is free to use.

Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS

First Released: 1999

Features of BlueJ IDE for Java

  • Lightweight, clean, and easy to use interface
  • Easy interactive visualization like a Unified Modeling Language
  • Emphasizes class structure through a graphic representation of the code
  • Great for learning the basics and the OOP concepts
  • Can directly run through a USB, without installation

Get Started:

5. JDeveloper

JDeveloper is a free Java IDE that is created and distributed by Oracle Corporation. The best feature is, it can manage the full development lifecycle.

Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS

First Released: 2005

Features of JDeveloper IDE for Java

  • Supports both Java Enterprise Edition and Standard Edition
  • User-friendly interface with drag-n-drop functionality
  • Offers tools and features for the whole development lifecycle — designing, coding, debugging, optimizing, and deploying
  • Offers visual and declarative code editors
  • Visual editor for HTML 5
  • Ideal for developing mobile apps and website

Get Started:

Final words

Let’s be real here, you can develop Java applications without using an IDE. However, IDEs do make the development process much easier by providing extra support that you need. They are like an assistant, a personal companion.

There are tens of different IDEs available but the above-mentioned ones are mostly recommended to Java beginners.

Related: How to Think Like a Programmer

All the best with your Java learning journey.

If you have a related query, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Also, kindly share the information with your friends who are learning Java or planning to learn soon.

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