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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2006-07-25 Print this article Print

John Zukowski, a developer at SavaJe Technologies, in Chelmsford, Mass., which builds software for the mobile space, said he uses IntelliJ IDEA regularly. "I used to use JBuilder but switched to IntelliJ with SavaJe," he said. "They didnt force the tool on anyone, it was developers choice, and I just went with what others picked and loved it."
Zukowski said IntelliJ IDEA has many similarities to JBuilder, in particular being a strong and capable programmers editor. "Some people in-house use Eclipse or NetBeans, but in comparisons have found IntelliJ to be faster," he said. "I really like many of the refactoring features and what you can think of as find problems searches that identify problem areas of source that should get a second look."
Benjamin Booth, a developer at webMethods, in Fairfax, Va., said he switched from JBuilder to IntelliJ IDEA and used it for three years until webMethods standardized on Eclipse. The JetBrains tool "is head and shoulders ahead of any other IDE in terms of usability," Booth said. "My Java dev got so much faster using its refactoring utilities, something no IDE had at that point. Everyone on my team tried to memorize all the shortcuts until, eventually, using IDEA for Java felt like an extension of our brain rather than some tool that we were forced to deal with." Jeff Genender, chief technology officer at Savoir Technologies, of Evergreen, Colo., said he has used IntelliJ IDEA too. "IntelliJ seems to be a preferred tool for many developers, as the user interface is clean and it has a good set of open-source plug-ins to choose from," he said. "The company is … very open-source-friendly in that they offer an Open Source License, which means that if youre a committer on an open-source project, JetBrains will give you a free license." However, Genender said he believes Eclipse has caught up to IntelliJ, "and it has many more plug-ins available, so I am finding myself more and more in Eclipse," he said. John Crupi, CTO of JackBe, of Bethesda, Md., and former distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems, said IntelliJ is "probably the best refactoring IDE out there." Geir Magnusson, a Java developer and Apache Foundation committer and project lead, called IntelliJ "very well-polished, and very in tune with the needs of working, professional developers." However, Genender said, "At $499 for IntelliJ, its going to be interesting to see where JetBrains business goes as Eclipse continues to get more refined, and Eclipse is free." Dmitriev said his privately held companys business continues to grow. "It is growing, its always growing—not as fast as it used to, but it continues to grow," he said. One opportunity for additional growth is AJAX development, said Mike Aizatsky, senior developer in JetBrains St. Petersburg, Russia, research and development lab. Aizatsky said IntelliJ has been optimized to support AJAX development. "It is not just for Java," he said. "Our support for AJAX development is as good as our Java support." Tkachman said JetBrains is the master of its own destiny and the team is driven to continue to innovate. "Were not worried too much about competition," he said. "If for some reason in the future we are not able to compete it is our own fault," he said. Asked whether he felt like JetBrains was a Rolls Royce of Java development tools, Dmitriev said: "It may be better to compare us to a BMW—best quality and fast implementation." He said his goal is to remain independent as he is not interested in being acquired. "You might make money, but you lose the spirit," he said. In addition to St. Petersburg, JetBrains has R&D labs in Boston. Dmitriev continues to work not only on enhancing the JetBrains tools, but also on his own research projects, including what he calls the Meta Programming System, or MPS, which he said is a different way of looking at problems and writing programs. MPS implements DSLs (domain-specific languages) to create applications, he said. Moreover, while JetBrains is not an open-source company, Tkachman said it supports more than 350 open-source projects, and through its early-access program, JetBrains shares its plans for its products as soon as they are devised. The company is also working on a plug-in repository, he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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