Masoud Kalali's Blog

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From NetBeans to IntelliJ IDEA, Week 1

I have been using NetBeans for a long time now; Because it is easy to use, easy to understand and explain to others, it has impressive Java EE support, etc. I was working on Java EE projects or projects  involving NetBeans RCP applications with 40-50 modules (1m loc or so) which are considered small applications. I didn’t need to have all modules opened or even when I needed NetBeans handled it pretty well. After joining GlassFish team things started to change a little. GlassFish codebase was new to me and the number of maven modules in GlassFish project was way larger than what I could easily open in NetBeans IDE to be able to navigate around in the code, to find the usages of a method, or to locate all of the implementing classes of a particular interface, etc.

I opened a RFE in NetBeans bug-tracking system but till that RFE got addressed I needed to work and thus I decided to give IntelliJ a try and see how it fares with GlassFish codebase and how easy it will be for me to adopt it as the IDE of choice for my day to day work on GlassFish.

First days impressions (Positive):

  • Can import the entire GlassFish codebase and start using it, no delay in code assisting popup and amazingly no lag after the initial scanning and indexing of the entire codebase.
  • Find usage works almost perfectly, sometimes it says that the class/es are outside of the codebase which might be my fault when importing the project
  • Code completion assistant is fast, when I say fast I mean really fast.
  • I like the fact that I can choose between different available LAFs. [The CDE/Motif LAF is still part of the JRE which denotes the overzealousness of keeping the backward compatibility of the platform?]
  • I like the “Store Current Layout as Default” feature which let me store a layout and use it when the layout get too messed-up.
  • I like the “Autoscroll to source” and “Autoscroll from source” though I’d rather have the action to do it manually when the mentioned options are disabled and I want to locate a class in the project view

First days impression (Not positive ones): Some of what I am missing might be available somewhere in the IDE but I haven’t find them yet….

  • I was not able to switch between different profiles for the module, for example IDE, release, etc. Maybe it is somewhere but I have not found it yet.
  • I think the color schema is hard to read because some of the used colors are low contrast, for example the comments, annotations, are hard to read and required some adjustment to be easier to read.
  • I opened some views that I cannot close, IDETalk, commander, Ant Build… they are all on auto-hide in the vertical bar in the left side without any close button or close action in the context (right click) menu to remove the tab from the side bar. Same goes for view tabs appearing in the bottom bar and left bar. But the good thing is we can rearrange them for better accessibility.
  • I think the local history feature in NetBeans has a better UI and usability than IDEA. In NetBeans the local history is shown in the same tab as the code and not in an extra window same goes for  diff window, etc.
  • The code formatter works better in NetBeans (SHIFT+CTRL+F) compared to IntelliJ (CMD+ALT+L). I like the NetBeans hotkey better as it has something from Formatting in the hotkey. (I tried couple of unindented unglized code snippet in both).
  • The Favorites view does not allow me to add a file system directory to a favorites list which limits the favorites view usage to project members (classes, packages, modules) …

I will post another blog entry after I used IntelliJ for another two weeks to give you a more in depth comparison of how they work for Mavan projects (my comparison will be mostly on Editors and Project/ navigation and refactoring features. Nothing on other languages support, Java EE, JavaFx, application server support, etc.)

3 Responses to From NetBeans to IntelliJ IDEA, Week 1

  1. mkleint says:

    re:

    I was not able to switch between different profiles for the module, for example IDE, release, etc. Maybe it is somewhere but I have not found it yet.

    it’s possible using the “Set configuration” popup menu item on the project node.

  2. Masoud Kalali says:

    In NetBeans the feature is available in the popup menu item “Set Configuration”. But for IDEA I cannot find a menu item named “Set Configuration” in the popup menu that shows up after right clicking on a project node (which is a maven module with several profiles) in the Project view. Am I missing something?

  3. John Ceccarelli says:

    NetBeans 7.2 has backround scanning implemented, which means that once you have done the initial scanning all subsequent scans happen in a background thread and do not block the UI. Beta’s coming soon, please give it a try.

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