IntelliJ IDEA is a Java development tool that comes in two editions: a community edition that can freely be downloaded and used, and an ultimate edition with more advanced features and integration support with a variety of popular programming platforms and frameworks. I have been using IDEA since v12 and although admittedly, the transition was not so comfortable, I have come to enjoy the new environment quite a bit. I have noticed that my productivity has increased and I no longer have to fight with the tool to debug and/or deploy the code.
There are plenty of other development environments I have worked with in my time and while, all have been great “platforms”, IDEA really takes that into the next stage and truly focuses on being a great IDE. Some of the features I have come to enjoy are much more intelligent and smoother code auto-completion support, great integration with Groovy and other JVM-based languages and mostly important, the IDE keeps up to date with the Java platform and I have never had a trouble updating it to the next version or transition to a new edition of a plugin.
There are a few things nonetheless I have noticed and slowly gotten used to. Learning new shortcut keys, which are essential to any developer’s rate of productivity, is sort of difficult. Smart complication and auto-detection of changes without having to manually save the code file also was a pleasant surprise. (I still on habit, try Ctrl+S every once in a while!) Also, running the IDE to take advantage of its true capabilities require a rather powerful machine with sufficient memory, at least 8GB. The IDE is really not intended for the faint-hearted software.
One of the greatest benefits I have very much enjoyed is the licensing model especially for FOSS. As an Apereo committer who frequently contributes to projects such as CAS and (much less uPortal nowadays) I have enjoyed IDEA’s support in providing licenses to such projects. This really allows us to do better and more productive work out in the open and hopefully, fosters the open source community better and more efficiently.
If you have not transition to IDEA yet, I’d highly encourage you to give it a try. You’ll be on and off tempted to go back to your old habits and remain in your comfort zone, but once you get past the initial bump, it will be a joyful ride all the way! :)
Download IntelliJ IDEA from: http://www.jetbrains.com/products.html