IntelliJ IDEA Eclipses Eclipse for Java Programming

At the end of 2018, Java Magazine published the results of a survey of 10,500 Java developers. According to this survey, 45% of Java developers use some version of IntelliJ IDEA, while only 38% use Eclipse. Said differently, for every 10 Eclipse users, there are 12 IntelliJ IDEA users, or 12 of 22 (55%) choose IntelliJ IDEA over Eclipse.

One takeaway from this might be that the two IDEs have a relatively equal share of advocates. But that view fails to consider the high cost of switching IDEs, both for individuals and for teams. We must take into account that some percentage (I would think a high percentage) of developers who use Eclipse do so out of pure inertia: Eclipse does the job. The team knows how to use it. Our entire software ecosystem is built around Eclipse. Eclipse is free. Why switch?

If that’s the case – that many of the 38% who use Eclipse do so out of inertia – that means that those people aren’t really making a choice. The number of developers who make an active, unconstrained choice who choose IntelliJ IDEA over Eclipse must be considerably higher than 12 of 22.

StackExchange

ThisĀ query of StackExchange data shows that in 2015, there were 3.4 posts tagged “eclipse” for every 1 post tagged “intellij-idea”. In 2018, that ratio was 1.4 to 1, and so far in 2019, the ratio is 1.2 to 1:

StackOverflow posts comparison

This shows a much faster trend towards IntelliJ IDEA than the change in the number of developers who currently use one or the other.

Google Trends

Another piece of data that tells this same story is this Google Trends chart, which shows that as of July, 2019, there are more searches for IntelliJ IDEA (Computer Software) than there are for Eclipse (Software):

Google Trends: IntelliJ IDEA vs. Eclipse

The week of August 23, 2015, there were 84 searches for Eclipse and only 27 for IntelliJ IDEA. This past week, the week of August 18, 2019, there were 45 searches for Eclipse and 49 for IntelliJ IDEA. That’s a ratio change from 3.1 to 1 to .92 to 1 – a huge change.

My Takeaway

My takeaway is that IntelliJ IDEA is the clear Java IDE of choice. I’m not saying that Eclipse is dying, but clearly developers who can choose freely overwhelmingly choose IntelliJ IDEA.


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