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How Do I Choose the Best Java® Development Environment?

By Gabriele Sturmer
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Java® integrated development environment (IDE) is a program that contains various tools for creating programming code, managing program modules, and debugging and testing Java® code. Each IDE has different features, is compatible with specific operating systems and provides a graphical interface for use in creating programs. When choosing the best Java® development environment, you should consider the IDE's layout, ease of use, features, price and system compatibility. There are many IDEs available, so you will likely need to weigh all these factors to find the one that best fits your needs, budget and computer system.

One of the biggest factors in selecting the best Java® development environment is the program interface's layout. You will want to find an IDE that has easy-to-follow menus and groups its toolbar icons in a logical manner. If you create programs that require a graphical interface, you will want to find an IDE that includes tools for designing program layouts. The organization of the IDE's tabs also is important, because a poorly organized IDE can make it difficult to keep track of your Java® program's modules. Programs with a clean layout usually give you the option to hide the tabs and menus you don't need, which can make the interface look much cleaner and easier to follow.

It's important to make sure that the IDE you select supports the features you need. If you need to use plug-ins for accessing databases or the web through your program, the best Java® development environment for you will make it easy to add and use plug-ins. Another helpful feature in an IDE is automatic completion, which suggests words when you begin to type code. Most IDEs support this feature, but some use the feature less efficiently than others do. Other helpful features to look for include the ability to try out programs within the IDE and the IDE's ability to find errors in your code.

Although there are several fully featured, free IDEs available, some used for enterprise software development can come at a high cost and may require multiple licensing fees. You also may find that you have to pay for any product updates that come out, so you will want to consider these costs, especially if you're using the program in an enterprise. System compatibility also is an important factor in choosing the best Java® development environment, but many IDEs in 2011 support multiple platforms and make compatibility less of a problem.

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