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Open Source IntelliJ IDEA 9: A Coding Partner

12.10.2009
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JetBrains recently announced the public availability of its popular (and formerly proprietary) IDE.  The announcement caused a lot of excitement and spurred debates in October when they decided to offer a free, open source edition of the next IntelliJ IDEA.  DZone spoke with Dmitry Jemerov, an IntelliJ developer, and Ann Oreshnikova, JetBrains' Marketing Director, about the general release.

IDEA is one of the last major, Java-based IDE's to go open source.  JetBrains says the decision was made in order to grow their user base and remove the price barrier for those who wanted to use IDEA, but couldn't afford it.  An increased level of community feedback and code contributions, JetBrains says, will help increase the quality of both the open source and commercial products.  More specifically, JetBrains says the Community Edition will make the platform more attractive to developers who want to build third-party library and tool integrations.  With open source becoming the mainstream, JetBrains believes now is the time to provide an open source version of its IDE.  The company believes that its entry into the open source arena will increase competition and spur innovation.  

The Community Edition of IntelliJ IDEA 9 includes support for Ant, Maven, JUnit integration, Subversion, Git, and Eclipse interoperability along with Java, Groovy, and Scala language support.  The Ultimate Edition has an even more robust set of tools in version 9.  Extensive support for the newly approved Java EE 6 is included in the Ultimate Edition.  Dmitry Jemerov says IDEA 9 "provides advanced code insight (code completion, navigation, error highlighting, smart editing actions etc.) and specialized structure views for most of the specifications which are part of Java EE 6, including JSF 2.0, Servlet 3.0, JSR-303 Bean Validation, and CDI/JSR-299."



Oreshnikova says IDEA 9 has also added support for AIR development.  "Besides that, we've added several new refactorings for Flex, features for generating methods and event handlers, FlexUnit support and a number of other features," she said.  IDEA 9 even has an Android plugin for running and debugging mobile apps on both the emulator and the real device.



The version control capabilities of IDEA 9 have received significant updates as well.  Oreshnikova explains, "One big new feature related to version control integration is task/context management. You can associate the state of your workspace (including the selected changelist, the set of open tabs, and more) with a particular task, and the context will be saved/restored when switching between tasks.  There are also a number of smaller enhancements, such as a new notification in the Changes view, indicating that you have an outdated version of the file, or the new Push Active Branches dialog in the Git integration."

Between the beta release in October and the GA release this week, Oreshnikova says, "Most of the work was focused on bugfixing, but there were some noticeable changes both in the user interface and under the hood. As for the UI changes, I can mention a revamped UI for managing editor bookmarks, with a nifty new popup window for assigning mnemonics to bookmarks. In the back end, the biggest change was probably support for updating the local history in the background, which removed the last major modal part of opening a project."

In a previous interview with DZone, Pavel Sher, the TeamCity Project Manager said, "We thrive on attracting customers who base their choices not on comparison charts, but on how the product feels, how it works for them and helps solve their problems."  Ann Oreshnikova adds to that statement by saying that IDEA is "A tool giving you the feeling of a partner."  She says some aspects of IDEA 9 that really stand out include, "powerful code analysis and code assistance features, outstanding version control support, and a feature-rich advanced debugger.  The Keyboard-centric approach stands out as well."  The feedback from the user community, she says, praises IDEA's intuitiveness, intelligence, non-intrusiveness, and the felling of every feature at your finger-tips.

A comparison between the Community and Ultimate editions can be found here.  Get the the free community edition of IntelliJ IDEA 9 now, or try the Ultimate Edition for 30 days.  You can find the portal to the JetBrains IntelliJ community here.  You can also check out the complete list of new features.

Comments

Joe Vartuli replied on Thu, 2009/12/10 - 4:47pm

Whilst I would love to use the IDEA IDE, unfortunately the community edition doesn't support the JSP Framework and I suspect like most developers who are in the media industry, that just won't cut it.

My company refuses to pay for the IDE when there are free alternatives and I am stuck on eclipse :(, if more developers got hooked on the IDE in their personal time, the demand in companies would also increase!

Andrew McVeigh replied on Thu, 2009/12/10 - 5:42pm

i'm hugely grateful that they've released the community edition.  It gives me the chance to play with the scala IDE plugin.

GeekyCoder coder replied on Thu, 2009/12/10 - 6:51pm

The clojure plug-in in Intellij is very cool too ! Really make learning Clojure a pleasure.

One feature that is greatly missing is embedded Groovy Interative Interpreter just like the embedded Clojure's REPL. That is a time saver. Imagine combining the editing power of Intellij and speed of execution for simple script using the interpreter. A tight integration will be more productive than stand-alone GroovyConsole.

Ricky Clarkson replied on Fri, 2009/12/11 - 5:06am in response to: Joe Vartuli

There's nothing stopping you from paying for a copy. I did (IDEA 6 and an upgrade to 8, though the Community Edition contains pretty much everything I need so I probably won't be paying again).

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