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A Java IDE (for Integrated Development Environment) is a software application which enables users to more easily write and debug Java programs. Many IDEs provide features like syntax highlighting and code completion, which help the user to code more easily.
Eclipse is a Free and Open Source IDE, plus a developer tool framework that can be extended for a particular development need. IBM was behind its development, and it replaced IBM VisualAge tool. The idea was to create a standard look and feel that can be extended via plugins. The extensibility distinguishes Eclipse from other IDEs. Eclipse was also meant to compete with Microsoft Visual Studio tools. Microsoft tools give a standard way of developing code in the Microsoft world. Eclipse gives a similar standard way of developing code in the Java world, with a big success so far. With the online error checking only, coding can be sped up by at least 50% (coding does not include programming).
The goals for Eclipse are twofold:
IBM's WSAD, and later IBM Rational Software Development Platform, are built on Eclipse.
Standard Eclipse features:
The NetBeans IDE is a Free and Open Source IDE for software developers. The IDE runs on many platforms including Windows, GNU/Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X. It is easy to install and use straight out of the box. You can easily create Java applications for mobile devices using Mobility Pack in NetBeans. With Netbeans 6.0, the IDE has become one of the most preferred development tools, whether it be designing a Swing UI, building a mobile application, an enterprise application or using it as a platform for creating your own IDE.
JCreator is a simple and lightweight JAVA IDE from XINOX Software. It runs only on Windows platforms. It is very easy to install and starts quickly, as it is a native application. This is a good choice for beginners.
Processing is an enhanced IDE. It adds some extra commands and a simplified programming model. This makes it much easier for beginners to start programming in Java. It was designed to help graphic artists learn a bit of programming without struggling too much. Processing runs on Windows, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X platforms.
BlueJ is an IDE that includes templates and will compile and run the applications for you. BlueJ is often used by classes because it is not necessary to set classpaths. BlueJ has its own sets of libraries and you can add your own under preferences. That sets the classpath for all compilations that come out of it to include those you have added and the BlueJ libraries.
BlueJ offers an interesting GUI for creation of packages and programs. Classes are represented as boxes with arrows running between them to represent inheritance/implementation or if on is constructed in another. The source code is generated by the UML diagram or vice-versa. BlueJ adds all those classes (the project) into the classpath at compile time.
By default it doesn't display the line numbers, so this should be ticked into Options\Preferences...
Kawa is basically a Java editor developed by Tek-Tools. It does not include wizards and GUI tools, best suited to experienced Java programmers in small and midsized development teams. It looks that there is no new development for Kawa.
See also a javaworld article
JBuilder is an IDE with proprietary source code, sold by Embarcadero Technologies. One of the advantages is the integration with Together, a modeling tool.
DrJava is an IDE developed by the JavaPLT group at Rice University. It is designed for students.
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