Author: Karsten Silz
Nov 1, 2022   |  updated Nov 9, 2022 6 min read

Permalink: https://betterprojectsfaster.com/guide/java-full-stack-report-2022-11/ide/

Java Full-Stack Index Q4/2022: IDEs

The content of this page is identical throughout Q4/2022 - October, November, and December.

Summary for Q4/2022

  • Popularity trend: Eclipse is the most popular Java IDE, though it has declined over many years. IntelliJ holds up well for a commercial product: Except for job ads, it’s neck-to-neck with Eclipse. NetBeans is the least popular IDE. VS Code isn’t a fully fledged Java IDE, but - apart from jobs - it’s 3-4 times as popular as Eclipse & IntelliJ.
  • If you don’t want to spend money, then use Eclipse.
  • If you may spend money, evaluate IntelliJ.
  • Evaluate VS Code for non-Java work, like web development (I use it for all my websites).
  • If you’re using NetBeans, consider moving off of it.

Archive

2022 Oct Sep Aug Jul

Table Of Contents

Choices

Here are the choices in alphabetical order:

Please note:

Popularity

Why Popularity - and How?

Picking a popular technology makes our developer life easier: Easier to learn, easier to build, debug & deploy, easier to find jobs/hire, and easier to convince teammates & bosses. Now popularity can make a difference in two situations: When multiple technologies score similarly, we could go for the most popular one. And when a technology is very unpopular, we may not use it.

I measure popularity among employers and developers as the trend between competing technologies. I count mentions in job ads at Indeed for employer popularity. For developer popularity, I use Google searches, Udemy course buyers, and Stack Overflow questions.

Employers: Job Ads

The Indeed job search is active in 62 countries representing 89% of the worldwide GDP in 2020. It demonstrates the willingness of organizations to pay for a technology - the strongest indicator of popularity in my mind. IntelliJ is the baseline.

Job ad mentions at Indeed for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code
Job ad mentions at Indeed for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code

Eclipse wins, IntelliJ is second, VS Code is third, and NetBeans last. Eclipse has declined over the last three months but still leads IntelliJ 2.3:1. Its numbers may be a bit too high, as Eclipse also has many frameworks, and the search only checks for “Eclipse”, not “Eclipse IDE”. VS Code dropped heavily in the last month. NetBeans is an also-run.

Please see here for details, caveats, and adjustments to the job ad mentions.

You can find the detailed search results with links here. They include breakdowns by continents:

Developers

Students at Udemy

Udemy is one of the biggest online learning sites. They publish the number of people who bought a course (beyond a certain threshold, possibly around 100k). This shows how many people evaluate a technology. This time, Eclipse is the baseline.

Students at Udemy for Eclipse and VS Code
Students at Udemy for Eclipse and VS Code

VS Code wins, and Eclipse is second. VS Code leads Eclipse 3.1:1. Neither IntelliJ nor NetBeans has enough students for Udemy to reveal their number.

Here are the links that show the courses for all and the number of students for some:

Google Searches

Google Trends demonstrates the initial interest in a technology over time. “More searches = better” to me.

Google Trends for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code
Google Trends for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code

This link produces the chart above.

The decline of Eclipse (17 years) and NetBeans (12 years) is clearly visible, as is the rise of VS Code. Let’s zoom in on the last three years:

Google Trends for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code Over the Last Three Years
Google Trends for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code Over the Last Three Years

This link produces the chart above.

VS Code wins, Eclipse is second, IntelliJ is third, and NetBeans is fourth. VS Code just hit its all-time peak. Eclipse has spikes around its quarterly releases but is slightly down compared to three years ago, while IntelliJ is slightly up in the same time frame.

Questions at Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow Trends shows which percentage of questions at Stack Overflow has a particular technology tag. It is a proxy for using a technology during evaluation and productive use. “More questions = better” to me.

Questions at Stack Overflow for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code
Questions at Stack Overflow for Eclipse, IntelliJ, NetBeans, and VS Code

This link produces the chart above.

VS Code wins, IntelliJ is second, Eclipse is third, and NetBeans is fourth. VS Code has risen for seven years and is slightly below its all-time peak from mid-2022. Eclipse and NetBeans have declined for more than eight years, and IntelliJ for more than five years.

Analysis

  • Eclipse: Despite its decline, it’s still the most popular free Java IDE. The free IntelliJ Community Edition is no competition as it lacks support for back-end frameworks like Spring or Jakarta EE and web frameworks. But the cracks show: In Stack Overflow’s “2022 Developer Survey”, 72% of 8,866 respondents dread using Eclipse. And VS Code puts Eclipse on notice. So Eclipse has a VS Code competitor in the works.
  • IntelliJ: In a world where everybody and their dog offer us free development tools, IntelliJ Ultimate Edition stands out as a product people are willing to pay for. Why? Because developers are happy with it: In Stack Overflow’s “2022 Developer Survey”, 68% of 19,723 developers love IntelliJ. Still, JetBrains also works on a VS Code clone.
  • NetBeans: Moving from Sun to Oracle to Apache hasn’t done the oldest Java IDE in this list any good. It competes against the much more popular Eclipse IDE, not to mention VS Code. Feature-wise, there isn’t anything really to set NetBeans apart from Eclipse. And in Stack Overflow’s “2022 Developer Survey”, 77% of 8,866 respondents dread using NetBeans. That’s the worst score there. A low popularity also means getting fewer plugins than the other IDEs.
  • VS Code: It may not be a fully-fledged Java IDE. But it is something we developers have never had - a free, fast, cross-platform, cross-language IDE. And developers love it: In Stack Overflow’s “2021 Developer Survey”, VS Code took the top IDE spot (I don’t count Neovim as an actual IDE). 81% of 52,523 developers loved it - that’s 2% more than last year. The only way is up for VS Code!

So here’s my recommendation:

  • If you don’t want to spend money, then use Eclipse.
  • If you may spend money, evaluate IntelliJ.
  • Evaluate VS Code for non-Java work, like web development (I use it for all my websites).
  • If you’re using NetBeans, move off of it - everybody else has (this is only a slight exaggeration).

comments powered by Disqus