Feeds

IntelliJ IDEA 5.0: can it survive the Eclipse onslaught?

Sometimes less is more

New hybrid storage solutions

Review The rise and rise of Eclipse is a mixed blessing for developers. There are obvious benefits in the existence of such a high-quality tools platform, free and open source, and seemingly everyone bar Sun and Microsoft has signed up to use it. The downside is the pressure it puts on other independent tools vendors.

It is sad to see Borland’s excellent JBuilder becoming an Eclipse add-in, for example. In all this, IntelliJ IDEA from JetBrains is a notable survivor. IDEA is focused on the automation of common editing tasks. The trick here is to achieve features that improve productivity without being intrusive or annoying, and in this IDEA is remarkably successful.

Shows how IntelliJ IDEA uses modules to support different application types.

Features

IDEA is a code-centric editor characterized by two key features. The first is refactoring. IDEA was among the first IDEs to include refactoring tools, and remains particularly strong in this area, with an extensive list of refactoring, intelligent implementation, and clear documentation. For example, Safe Delete will delete a class or class member only if there are no usages. If there are usages, they are listed for inspection. More complex refactorings include Generify, which attempts to convert code to take advantage of Generics, introduced in Java 5.0, and to remove unnecessary casts. This edition of IDEA includes several new or enhanced refactorings, such as Move Method and Change Method Signature. Careful refactoring is a potent tool for making code more maintainable, and IDEA is the leader in the field.

This screenshot shows an IntelliJ IDEA refactoring wizard.

The other key feature of IDEA is called Intention Actions. JetBrains describes this as, “When IntelliJ IDEA considers that there is something wrong with your code, it suggests an Action to fix it.” For example, you might declare a JFrame before you have imported the relevant swing package. IDEA will pop up a suggestion, and pressing Alt + Enter adds the necessary import statement.

This screenshot shows an Intention Action at work.

This feature is not unique to IDEA. Eclipse has Quick Fix and JBuilder has Error Insight, both of which will also suggest an import in the example given. On the other hand, IDEA takes the concept further, with a huge range of Intention Actions including refactorings and EJB-specific actions as well as error corrections. They really do speed up coding, and are easy to ignore or disable when they are not needed.

If you have second thoughts about any changes, IDEA makes it easy to go back in time. It maintains local history in the background, and choosing Recent Changes from the View menu lists your main actions, with an option to rollback or view the detail in a difference editor. External version control systems are also supported. IDEA works particularly well with CVS and Subversion (new in version 5.0), but also integrates with Perforce, StarTeam and even Visual SourceSafe.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.