Two Recent IDE Polls -- Odd Similarities

Over the years, in this blog, I have frequently questioned the difference between data and information. All the way back in 2008, I even discussed statistics in the context of (my childhood hero) John McEnroe. How many out there can claim to have been arguing about statistics consistently and coherently for as long as I have? Indeed, not many.

Data is numbers, graphs, statistics, ups, downs, etc. Meanwhile, information is the meaning of data, that is, the conclusions that can be drawn from it.

What does it mean that the statistics over the past month show, both on AND on that NetBeans IDE is (in the case of the best IDE and (in the case of the IDE in which most coding is done?

In both cases, interestingly, more votes were cast in the polls above than in other recent polls on those sites which signifies, surely, that there is more passion around this topic than others that have been dealt with in polls on those sites.

But, the point is that, the correlation between these two different data points is surely interesting. Scoff if you like, but scoff meaningfully. How can the above two polls on different sites, with different people responding to it, be explained?


Well the polls only show that those who voted prefer to use NetBeans, either because they consider it to be the best one (possibly because they use no other anyway) or they use it in preference to others (again, possibly because they don't use any other).

That IntelliJ IDEA comes a higher in the first poll but much lower in the second also shows the effect of having to licence the full IDE.

The first poll certainly doesn't indicate which one is actually the best, that is purely a subjective opinion. The second poll is probably more significant because it doesn't ask for a (subjective) opinion.

Posted by Andy Bailey on February 13, 2014 at 12:29 AM PST #

IBM uses its own customized Eclipse, Oracle uses JDeveloper. I think those alone will push those IDEs quite high in the top of most used Java IDEs.
In over 10 years, I have never developed in Netbeans, nor did anyone at the companies I have worked for. Netbeans is almost a no show (at least in Romania), I still have to point out to people that it has come a long way since SunOne Studio/Forte for Java days. Unfortunately that image is all some think about when they hear about Netbeans,

@Andy: Idea is actually free of charge for open-source projects. Best IDE bar none imho, but then again, they're being paid precisely for a top-notch IDE so they'd be in "some" trouble if they didn't deliver.

Posted by guest on February 13, 2014 at 04:30 AM PST #

I attended a session on Java EE by Adam Bien in a local Romanian JUG meeting. It was a YES show at least on that occasion :) I'm using NetBeans almost exclusively since 2007.
Here's another fellow programmer from Romania who uses NetBeans:

I have to say I was at a conference presentation by Stephen Chin, which is a Oracle Certified Java Evangelist. It was on lambdas. He asked how many in the audience were using IntelliJ, Eclipse and/or NetBeans. Well, there were only two guys in the room, myself included, raising hands on NetBeans. IntelliJ 7 people and the other 30 people Eclipse.

Afterwards Stephen Chin said something off-the-record: he was mentioning NetBeans only because he was an Oracle employee. And there he goes opening a JDK8 project in IntelliJ, all lambdas underlined in red as the lambda support was work in progress, but pretty good.
I had previously played with lambdas on a dev version of NetBeans and I could tell NetBeans was doing far better than "oh that superior" IDE.

NetBeans is on the right track and it will win the users it deserves, not all. There are users who say NetBeans is functionally ok but it's ugly, they prefer the beautiful Eclipse :))
There's no argument agains that, it would trigger the Third WTF War.

Posted by guest on February 13, 2014 at 08:24 AM PST #

Well, I may have been a little unclear: I use Netbeans occasionally, too. I just haven't seen people use it at work. Eclipse seems to be the de facto standard, but, my God, it can be a nightmare at times (short, sporadic freezes, an HTML editor that formats using arcane rules and insists to close a comment when you open one). IMHO, SWT was the dumbest idea for Java ever.

Posted by alex on February 13, 2014 at 02:56 PM PST #

Had an interesting conversation with a former coworker and friend last night. He was getting excited about lambdas and streams in JDK 8 and thought it would be an awesome idea if he and I created a tool that automatically scanned peoples code and converted for them. Being a hard core Eclipse (and Eclipse RCP) guy he then said he bet we could offer this new tool as a plugin to the Eclipse RCP community.

I then said with a grin... why bother making a tool that does that? Just use NetBeans.

Posted by Sean Phillips on February 13, 2014 at 06:15 PM PST #

Yes, because if your project is all set up for Eclipse (formatting rules and such), it's such a joy to move it to Netbeans. Idea scores another point in this area because it can not only use formatting rules from Eclipse, but also use the same shortcuts.
What I have always loved about Idea, however, is the code analyzer. Nothing comes close to that, it's an amazing tool to teach beginners to clean-up their own code. And yes, I know yoou can do it with checkstyle or sonar, but Idea requires zero set up.

Posted by alex on February 14, 2014 at 07:19 AM PST #

@Alex: There is a code formatter plugin available in the plugin center which uses Eclipse formatter engine and the Eclipse formatter xml to format your source code. This should ease most of your pain.

NetBeans also provides code analyzing. Even with autofixing. It is called "Inspect" (Menu Source->Inspect...) / "Inspect and Transform" (Menu Refactor->Inspect & Transform...)

* ...

Posted by markiewb on February 15, 2014 at 06:41 AM PST #

Actually these are two different questions. You have made the assumption that both of these questions relate to Java. They do not. The first question asked which is the best Java IDE. Which IDE is best for developing Java. The second asks where do you most of your coding. It did not ask where do you do most of your "JAVA" coding. In my case I do do most of my coding in Netbeans. However that coding happens to be PHP. So in my case I would have voted for Netbeans in both questions but for totally different reasons. You need to analyze the question as much as the results.

Posted by Michael A. Hess on February 18, 2014 at 06:03 AM PST #

I voted on the jaxenter poll. I never saw the poll. :)

Posted by guest on February 18, 2014 at 07:03 AM PST #

@alex- I disagree about SWT. Swing sucks. Always has always will. SWT was necessary for decent UI performance, and it works great. If FX is as good or better performing than SWT and Netbeans converts to FX before Eclipse, then Netbeans might catch up to Eclipse in adoption rates. Otherwise Eclipse will remain the most used IDE.

Posted by Don on February 18, 2014 at 08:01 AM PST #

I'm using MPLAB from Microchip. Since the MPLAB X version, the embedded IDE is Netbeans to write programs in ASM or in C code. So, since this version more and more people will acquire a (first) experience of Netbeans.
I'm using too Java with Netbeans for others environment.
To teach software development, its really a good thing to use the same platform because the number of hours is really low.
I test BlueJ but I don't like it because students don't use a professional IDE. It's certainly a good environment to start to study Java but it's goal is distant what the enterprises needs.

I don't know if Netbeans is better than others but what I know is working fine with Microchip development and with Java Development.

I will probably test Netbeans with Php but I'm not sure it could replace Django for Python.

Posted by VBreton on May 02, 2015 at 10:55 AM PDT #

I do a lot of Grails at work. I've also recently used Griffon ( on a project.

Netbeans support of Grails and Groovy is pathetic at best. Actually, Netbeans support of Groovy in either Grails or Griffon is horrible.

If you don't believe that, open a groovy file in Netbeans after you've added the groovy/grails plugin. Enter a comment that ends with a period and watch the completion menu pop up. Try to refactor something. Watch it not do anything at all.

Most Java development with Netbeans is an absolute joy. Search for usage of a method or class? Fast and accurate. Completion help? Fast and accurate. Refactoring a class? Boom, there it is.

I work with folks that use IntellJ. They use other tools to access MySQL or MongoDB tables. I can do that within NetBeans. *BUT* IntellJ provides some type of support for Groovy. There's completion! There's cross-referencing that works!

I'd really prefer to use NetBeans, but after you throw Groovy into the mix, NetBeans falls upon its face.

IMO, part of that problem is Groovy itself. I've grown to really hate the language after using it at work for over a year now. It has all the problems of Python without any of the structure or documentation that Python provides.

But, some people think that Groovy rocks instead of sucks.

Posted by guest on April 14, 2016 at 09:04 PM PDT #

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Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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