There are two free IDEs for Java: Netbeans and Eclipse.

Netbeans seems to have better auto-complete support and compile/debugging support. However, it lacks support for auto-completing variable/method names, as well as word-wrap support.

What are the Pros & Cons of Netbeans over Eclipse, and vice versa?

+61  A: 

Eclipse - first and foremost, because it has amazing versatility as a platform. If you are into it, it can be your only IDE you will use for any type of development: Java by default, C++ via CDT, Java EE extensions, Python via PyDev - just to name a few.

Needless to say, Eclipse has full and complete support for java development: code completion, syntax highlighting, code refactoring, etc. I rarely find myself needing external tools for these types of jobs.

Yuval A
I like a lot eclipse but for GUI sucks (Visual Editor is dead)
sadly, eclipse doesn't do .net; +1 anyways.
David Schmitt
@David, NetBeans doesn't either ;)
Yuval A
It doesn't make you coffee either, despite it's name.
I wouldn't say that Eclipse's best thing is that it can be used for everything. I actually dislike that, quality of different plugins/extensions vary wildly and who said I want to use the same IDE for everything? (Unless it did an outstanding job at everything, which it doesn't)
Vinko Vrsalovic
@David: there is Silverlight support though: :-) (funded by Microsoft)
Peter Štibraný
I'm a big Eclipse fan, but managing the plugin dependencies drives me crazy. I use MyEclipse. At $60/year, it's a really nice 'distro' that saves me a lot of headaches.
Mike Sickler
Eclipse is the best open source program I've used and I still hate it at times. Call me ungrateful but I'd really could do with just Project Explorer, autocomplete/syntax coloring, refactorings and one-button compiling/running of the class/project.
I used to love Eclipse until it became bloated and slowww
Joe Philllips
Everything that Yuval says about Eclipse is also true of NetBeans, which supports C++, Java EE, Python, Ruby+Rails, JavaScript, CSS, etc. etc.
Jose M Vidal
+2  A: 

I haven't used NetBbeans in years. But I'm sure both Eclipse and Netbeans support the Java programmer really well. I use Eclipse daily and I must say that it kicks ass. It has a huge support from the open source community.

+5  A: 

I use Eclipse for my Java development, but that's the IDE I used when I first started programming Java. I've checked out both Eclipse and Netbeans and I think overall it just comes down to personal preference or what you're used to using. Both IDEs have good support of Java and several plug-ins to integrate other tools with your development.

+17  A: 

The GUI builder from NetBeans is a huge plus for it against Eclipse. If you don't do GUI development, then they are relatively equivalent.

Vinko Vrsalovic
No. Have you tried JavaScript editing is Eclipse, it sucks. At least few months ago.
Adeel Ansari
Why are you making the same javascript comment repeatedly?
That is probably the biggest difference nowadays. Especially since NetBeans now has the call hierarchy function as well :)
+7  A: 

As a very occasional Java developer, I have found that NetBeans was less complicated than Eclipse and therefore more accessible and easy to use.

Eclispe though is far more extendable. I've found it no probelm to jump between the two perhaps you should do the same?

John Nolan
+2  A: 

I've used both Eclipse and NetBeans , but not for any huge projects. Eclipse doesn't have a built-in GUI designer, so you have to do it either by hand or with a plug-in. Also, Eclipse makes a ton of temporary files in strangely named directories for some reason, and that always bugged me (a minor thing I guess).

NetBeans was perfect for what I was doing, it has a top-notch GUI designer, and a cleaner interface. I also liked how easy refactoring was, but I think it's probably just as easy in Eclipse.

In the end, I'd recommend NetBeans unless there's some awesome plug-in for Eclipse that will help you.

+16  A: 

I think NetBeans has come a long way and deserves at least equal billing with Eclipse now. Eclipse had a good head start, because NetBeans stumbled out of the blocks, but I think it's drawn even. The Eclipse plug-in architecture seems a bit bloated to me now.


Since IntelliJ community edition was announced, we have a hands-down winner for best free Java IDE. It's not even close.

+1 for bloated. I still prefer it to NetBeaners
Joe Philllips
+1 for IntelliJ IDEA
Nader Shirazie
+5  A: 

I would really recommend Netbeans over eclipse there is some really good stuff in it and it's also very easy to use.

The auto complete is extremely good such as in the way when your auto completing parameters for a method it wills suggest ones of an appropriate type etc.

It does however not have word wrap (however it is on the cards for 7.0) but when writing Java code you really should not need it as most Java code conversions stick to the 80 character long line limit.

If you have a look at that shows some of the great new features for Java in Netbeans.

Mark Davidson
Eclipse can also auto-complete parameters. I would argue its auto-complete is better.
Craig P. Motlin
I would be interested to know could you please explain why its autocompletion is better.
Mark Davidson
I have not use NB for year. But what I read from recent new feature of the editor in NB are already exists in Eclipse many years ago.
Dennis Cheung
+6  A: 

If you plan to use your ide for academic or open source projects, i recommend idea intellij.

Otherwise just try Netbeans and Eclipse, then decide on one of them. I have used both of them. But nowadays I prefer Netbeans because I think that it is more user-friendly and easy to use.

By the way both of the IDE's won't have many differences in comparasion charts but the implementation of the features differs for instance svn, ruby, jsf vice versa.

+1  A: 

I have not used Netbeans.But I used intellij IDEA.It works very very slow compare to Eclipse.For java programming my choice is always eclipse .

+3  A: 

I can't recommend any of these. Actually, I can't recommend any IDE for you. Despite believing that every person is different, the same people insist that there is a "best" which is best for everyone.

This just doesn't work. If you want your question answered, get all three, install them and use them for a day. Each IDE has a different philosophy, a different mind set and will fit different people. In my team, two people use IntelliJ IDEA and I'm using Eclipse. I've tried IDEA and frankly, it sucks for me. I would never use it for any kind of work and if pressed to list all the things that I don't like, I wouldn't know where to start. Eclipse just fits my mind set and IDEA doesn't.

For the other people in my team, Eclipse would be about as wrong as IDEA is for me. Plus, all IDEs store their project files in a different place, so there is nothing stopping us from using what is best for each one of us.

Aaron Digulla
+5  A: 

I used Eclipse for years and have just recently switched to NetBeans 6.5. Eclipse needs such a hodge podge of plugins to get it to up to snuff where as with NetBeans I only use a few, nice to have plugins.

NetBeans also has much better Maven integration. I've tried the various plugins for integrating Maven into Eclipse, and they're abysmal.

+34  A: 

This is one of the most recurrent questions in Stackoverflow. The battle between Netbeans vs Eclipse is becoming such an epic one similar to the Vi vs Emacs.

The users of stackoverflow have discussed many, many times only for barely comparing them programming Java or using them for something more specific such as RCP or GUI programming.

According to the responses some conclusions can be drawn:

  • Both IDEs have equivalent features at least concerning Java programming. The election is mainly a matter of personal preferences.
  • Most Java programmers (at least at Stackoverflow) tend to prefer Eclipse over Netbeans.
  • According to extensibility or number of features Eclipse wins over Netbeans.
  • The only field where Netbeans is superior to Eclise is GUI Java programming (thanks to superior Matisse Netbeans plugin).
Fernando Miguélez
And another is JavaScript editing. Eclipse sucks there.
Adeel Ansari
Eclipse with Aptana plugin is a great JavaScript editor.

I would second eclipse recommendation as pointed by previous posts. It has good set of features and adding new plugins like finbugs for your java projects is pretty simple.

+2  A: 

Eclipse if you want more functionality and customization, Netbeans if you like having one "super IDE" that gives you everything out of the box like MS Visual Studio. I've used them both (just in passing since Java is not my specialty) and liked Eclipse because of the plethora of plugins available, but Netbeans was very nice coming from an MS background. Netbeans has come a long way as well and is now pretty much equal to Eclipse in terms of functionality.

If you haven't already, download them both and play around and figure out which one works best for you. If you're doing GUI development, though, then Netbeans wins hands down because of their "Matisse" GUI builder; it's the single best GUI builder I've ever seen.

Wayne M

Oracle's JDeveloper is also free (as in beer), and feature wise on par with eclipse and netbeans. It's probably more complete than eclipse, as you don't have to install a lot of not so well integrated plugins. Includes visual support for jsp/jsf/swing, ejb support etc. It lacks good maven support though and it's drag and drop support through adf bindings is sort of propriatary, as only oracle supports it.

+35  A: 

I would recommend trying both to see what works best for you.

Kind of goes without saying, don't you think?
Yuval A
It is very subjective so just because I am really impressed with an IDE for whatever particular reason doesnt mean that you would be. I really would not choose IDE without trying them for myself, especially since so many are free.
Yea, that was about the approach I decided to go with :)
Click Upvote
Click Upvote - So what is your IDE of choice then? :)
Many of the people here use both. I use Netbeans right now and have used Eclipse in the past. My choice is almost always dependent on the work that I'm doing that minute.
Bob Cross
@Willcodejava, Netbeans, but for google web toolkit I'm forced to use Eclipse. For everything else including PHP, I now use Netbeans:)
Click Upvote
@Willcodejava, What about you?
Click Upvote
@Clicl Upvote - At work I have to use Eclipse but at home I mostly use NetBeans.
@Bob Totally agree with you. For example, the JAX-WS support in NetBeans is much better. Grails support was also much better (things might change with SpringSource Tool Suite though). So, indeed, just use the right tool for the right job.
Pascal Thivent
+10  A: 

I'm happy with Netbeans, some pluses for me are:

  • GUI designer support
  • Groovy support (plays nicely with Java)
  • ruby & RoR support (because I don't just program in Java)
  • svn support

With the exception of the GUI designer, I don't think any of this is unique to Netbeans - it just works well enough for me and is mostly straightforward to use. I found eclipse a bit difficult to approach.

I don't ask much from an IDE though - I'm also happy to use Textmate on the mac.

You don't only program Java? But... I thought it was portable?
Joe Philllips

I would like to use NetBeans more, but some of the tools I've used are exclusive for NetBeans:

  • ClearCase (thanks IBM!)
  • Android
android on eclipse does work for me. Never tried it under netbeans though
Thanks for catching my typo. I meant "exclusive for NetBeans."
It still isn't clear what you mean
Joe Philllips
+3  A: 

I am surprised that nobody has not yet mentioned the distributions of Easy Eclipse

EasyEclipse packages together Eclipse, the open-source software development platform, and selected open source plugins.

You can find the distros here.

I personally use the Expert and GUI distros.

I find it useful not to have all plugins in one Eclipse.

thanks a lot, this was really helpful. I've been struggling with finding a web development dist. for eclipse for a long time
Click Upvote

Eclipse is great.


  1. Autocomplete
  2. Links multiple projects together beautifully so as to allow work on large projects with multiple packages.
  3. Integration with version control.
  4. Fast
  5. Provides all the facilities of the command line
  6. Very stable
  7. Auto-update
You just described NetBeans (except for "Fast", which neither of them are in my experience). I'm not quite sure what you mean by #5, though.
Michael Myers
Netbeans has a great UI but eclipse supports GWT :(
Click Upvote
@Click Upvote: looks promising. But I don't want to hijack this answer to discuss it. If GWT is what you want, could you add it to the question?
Michael Myers
I mean you can basically put all ur command line arguments and instructions to the VM in the project properties in the same way u would write them on the command line. For me, it keeps a sense of unity, inlike other IDEs which have separate fields or checkboxes for various properties like heap size.
@euphoria83: Oh, ok. NetBeans does the same thing.
Michael Myers
+2  A: 

I never was a huge fan of IDEs until I discovered NetBeans. Now I'm a total convert. It's simple to use, unfussy and intuitive. Conversely, having been obliged to use Eclipse on a number of projects I have worked on, I can only say that the opposite applies.

+1  A: 

InteliiJ Community Edition is also free and my preferred choice.

There is also JCreator, DrJava, BlueJ, Gel, JIPE, SyncJEdit and some claim emacs. ;)

Peter Lawrey

In my opinion is NetBeans the Best Free IDE, because it is very neat, has a good speed and i think the integrated GUI - Builder is the best i have ever seen for free!!!!

The one Thing i feel to need is an Repository Explorer like it works in Eclipse.


I use Netbeans. Actually I work with Maven.

Netbeans take maven project folders which include a pom.xml as its native project.

It doesn't have to import or install any stupid plugins. And it doesn't make any stupid dot files inside my project folder.

I really don't understand who uses Eclipse. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of so called Java developers can't make 'hello world' program without Eclipse.

Jin Kwon