Sunday, February 27, 2005

How Eclipse outshines IntelliJ IDEA

I enjoy IntelliJ IDEA. It is a better Java editor than Eclipse. I find Eclipse clunky, slow and ugly. But I expect Eclipse to dominate the Java editor marketplace and plug-ins such as Jupiter are the reason why. Ilmyggo points out Jupiter in his post, Two excellent Eclipse plug-ins and notes:

The Jupiter code review plug-in tool integrates with Eclipse in order to carry out code reviews. Reviewing code is a tedious job. Previously I've been writing comments on paper copies, using @todo-tags and other custom JavaDoc tags. No more! With Jupiter you just move the cursor to the place in the code where you see an issue and enter a new Jupiter issue in the review editor. The issues are listed in a separate review table, and are also displayed as purple marker fields in the source code editor. Nice!

'Nice' indeed. Because of Eclipse's development model and corresponding mindshare, outstanding academic projects like Jupiter gravitate to it rather than to IDEA, the better product.

But IDEA will stay better for only so long. If you imagine the improvement of Eclipse and IDEA (and JBuilder, et al) as lines on a graph of quality to time, IDEA intercepts the y-axis at a higher point than IDEA and remains higher at the present moment, but Eclipse has a greater slope because of the larger contributing mindshare. It is a matter of time before Eclipse will pass IDEA, and not long afterwards IDEA will stagnate as its advantages no longer raise it above the free alternative.

The marketplace is very efficient.

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