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IntelliJ vs. Eclipse: Which is Better for Beginners?

IDEs come in every shape and size and may often cater to multiple programming languages. However, some of these environments might have a language for which they are famous. That said, Java programmers often compare IntelliJ vs. Eclipse to find the better choice for beginners.

Java is a pure object-oriented language, and both IntelliJ IDEA and Eclipse fulfill their purpose perfectly. Choosing to work with one over the other might seem like a choice that varies on the user’s comfort. Some may like tools that prove as a challenge but have better functionalities, while others want simple interfaces. So, let’s explore!

IntelliJ vs. Eclipse: The 7 Key Differences

IntelliJ vs Eclipse differences.Although both IntelliJ and Eclipse have similar uses and aims, the two tools have different fanbases due to their differences. They both have some significant differences that may help us determine how Eclipse vs. IntelliJ compares for beginners – we’ll look at them below.

1. Programming Languages

The main thing that helps users determine which IDE to use is the type of programming language that it supports. If the IDE you just installed doesn’t support the language you wish to use, it will seem useless to you with a few exceptions. Some coding environments are language specific, while others may have extension kits that allow users to use more languages.

We know that both IntelliJ and Eclipse are in demand for their Java-based works. However, they have a lot more to offer than just Java. In fact, IntelliJ supports other languages such as Kotlin, Scala, Groovy, JavaScript, SQL, XML, CoffeeScript, and more – while Eclipse supports PHP, Ruby, Rust, Perl, Lasso, Python, and more. 

2. System Requirements

Another factor that goes into choosing an IDE is its system requirements. Although many beginners get into coding without thinking much of it, operating systems matter greatly in the long run. If your device’s operating system doesn’t support the code editor you’re trying to use; you won’t be able to use that IDE at all.

However, the good news is that most IDEs are supported by Windows, Linux, and MacOS, which currently make up the majority of devices worldwide. IntelliJ IDEA runs on all three of these and takes up about 2.5GB of storage size and 2GB of memory requirements – whereas; Eclipse can run smoothly on 300MB storage size and 0.5GB memory allocation.

3. Performance

The performance of an IDE may vary on several factors. In fact, it is directly related to the system requirements we just talked about. If we compare the system requirements of IntelliJ vs. Eclipse, the latter wins the case as IntelliJ takes up many more resources than Eclipse. So it might indicate that Eclipse has a better performance than IntelliJ.

Looking deeper, Eclipse is indeed better in performance when it comes to starting up complex and bulky projects since it’s a lightweight tool. However, existing and regular projects work better on IntelliJ, making it better for regular usage. But the competition is real close as users contradict a lot on the tools’ performance and speed.

4. Licensing

Licenses can determine a tool’s target user, as many may prefer free tools over paid ones, especially beginners. Most IDEs are open source, meaning that the general public can use the IDE for free and can also contribute freely to its extensions and plugins. Also, as the softwares are free, the flexibility is unlimited.

IntelliJ IDEA is open core instead of open source, which has the option for a premium subscription. This means that users can create projects for personal and commercial usage – however, their contribution to its plugin ecosystem is limited. Eclipse, on the other hand, is open source and does not stop users from using the tool to its full potential without any obstacle.

5. Plugins, Extensions, and Web Versions

Plugins and extensions add to the functionalities of your existing tools. The most significant between the two is that plugins do not modify the tool’s core functions, whereas extensions can change the tool’s default behavior. Web versions of IDEs are also a plus since users do not need to install them, but IntelliJ does not provide it, whereas Eclipse does.

Both intelliJ and Eclipse have a diverse ecosystem for plugins and extensions. IntelliJ has more than 3.3K plugins, whereas Eclipse has about 1.6K plugins under its belt. However, overflowing the IDE with plugins may just make the tool heavier and its performance slower. So, users need to be careful about which add-on they are keeping when it comes to performance.

6. Debugging and Refactoring

Although the aims of debugging are precisely the same, different tools may come with different debugging styles. Suppose we see how IntelliJ vs. Eclipse compare. In that case, we immediately notice the difference as IntelliJ users can simply press Alt+F8 to see debug suggestions, whereas, in Eclipse, we need to select the whole expression.

Refactoring, on the other hand, is restructuring the code without modifying its functionalities. The aim of refactoring is simply to produce efficient codes that save up memory resources and is easily understandable. IntelliJ has built-in features to support refactoring, which is better compared to Eclipse, which needs plugins for refactoring.

7. Usability

The usability of tools often depends on the features that the tool has. Integrated development environments such as IntelliJ IDEA and Eclipse often have similar uses. Although IntelliJ is written in C and Java, and Eclipse is written in Java and Kotlin, both are high-in-demand for Java project developments.

If we compare Eclipse vs. IntelliJ in terms of usability, both are of similar caliber. However, features such as auto-complete work better in IntelliJ compared to Eclipse, so many may deem it more user-friendly. The exact comparison is still controversial, though, since the tools have different userbases and features.

What Makes an IDE Beginner-friendly?

What makes an IDE beginner-friendly?Since we have established the key differences between IntelliJ and Eclipse, we can return to our primary aim of determining which is better for beginners. However, before doing so, we must discuss the factors which make an IDE beginner-friendly.

1. Easy-to-navigate Interface

The first thing that a user notices while trying out a new tool is its user interface. If the interface is not intuitive and easy to navigate, it may overwhelm users who are new to programming – which is already a daunting task for beginners. Also, easy interfaces can help encourage beginners to code more.

2. Cost Efficiency

Another factor that makes an IDE beginner-friendly is its cost. Almost everyone loves a free tool that takes good care of their needs. While most IDEs are open source, some may charge a little money for plugins or offer premium functionalities. Beginners always hesitate to invest in tools right from the get-go, so cost-efficiency is a big deal.

3. Popularity

Popularity might seem like an insignificant detail when you think of it in the long run. However, beginners often choose to go with tools that are more popular for a number of reasons. Such reasons may include having easier access to learning resources or having better support communities – both of which are crucial for providing a better working experience.

4. Easy Installation

The installation process of a tool can make or break the user’s decision to keep working with it. Most IDEs have similar installation methods; however, some may contain advanced features that require a different setup. Beginners who aren’t tech-savvy may instantly feel overwhelmed and drop the tool if they are having a hard time installing it – so installation is also an important factor.

5. UX-friendly Features

Lastly, we must acknowledge the power of user experience. While it may seem that most popular IDEs have their user experience under control, this misconception leads users to ignore features that may have been useful to them otherwise. Having proper search features, error fixing hints, easy shortcuts, and more can help increase the tool’s appeal to beginners.

IntelliJ vs. Eclipse: Which Is Better for Beginners?

IntelliJ vs Eclipse - Which Is better?That said, you must now be wondering how the information above plays into the IntelliJ vs. Eclipse debate for beginners. Well, here are the results:

  • IntelliJ has a better interface compared to Eclipse as it’s much more intuitive.
  • Eclipse is free to use, whereas IntelliJ is free and also has a subscription of $49.9 / month or $499 / year.
  • IntelliJ is more popular compared to Eclipse. However, Eclipse is getting more and more popular gradually.
  • Eclipse may require external development kits during installation, whereas IntelliJ does not – so IntelliJ is easier to install.
  • IntelliJ IDEA is more user-friendly compared to Eclipse due to its easy code-completion- features.

So, overall, most people think IntelliJ IDEA is better for beginners compared to Eclipse. However, you won’t know what suits you best till you use it. So, if you are a beginner trying to choose between these two IDEs, we suggest you try both before settling for one.

IntelliJ vs. Eclipse: FAQs

FAQsThat was all about our IntelliJ vs. Eclipse comparison today, but before ending, let’s go over a few frequently asked questions to help you out some more and to give you a clearer picture.

Q: Which one is the better IDE for Java?

A: IntelliJ is better for Java as it’s the third most popular IDE that native Java supports.

Q: Can we install both IntelliJ and Eclipse?

A: Yes, they can be installed together in the same environment as they store data on different files, so the information does not get mixed up.

Q: Is Eclipse good for C++?

A: Yes! Apart from its obvious functionalities for Java projects, Eclipse is one of the best tools for the C++ programming language in the current marketplace.

Q: What is IntelliJ good for?

A: IntelliJ is good for its intuitive navigation features and advanced coding assistance that benefit programmers from any learning curve to boost their workflow.

Final Insights

Everyone is a beginner at one point in their career, and it is natural to struggle with tools when they are used for the first time. It is normal to overlook features and just blindly keep working. So, we hope our IntelliJ vs. Eclipse discussion encouraged you to use the tools and explore.

If you are looking to begin with Java, while IntelliJ seems better, thinking in the long run, Eclipse has better potential. It may overtake IntelliJ in terms of popularity in a few years. So, in conclusion, we suggest you choose for yourself which seems better. That was all. Thanks for reading!

Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan is a passionate enthusiast for technology. He admires all things tech and loves to help others understand the fundamentals of Linux, servers, networking, and computer security in an understandable way without overwhelming beginners. His articles are carefully crafted with this goal in mind - making complex topics more accessible.


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