I used to be a hardcore Emacs user. Emacs with the JDE extensions was (I think inarguably) far superior to the first few generations of Java IDEs -- for example, Visual Cafe, or the first JBuilder versions. But IDEs have gotten better as Java has become more sophisticated, and now I don't think that using Emacs is defensible. I switched to IntelliJ IDEA several years ago.
Now, regarding NetBeans or Eclipse: I've been using Eclipse a lot lately, as I'm working on developing a set of plug-ins for it, and I can honestly say that Eclipse 3 starts to come close to being in the same league as IDEA; but IDEA still "feels better" to me, has better performance, and is considerably more polished. With Java IDEs, you get what you pay for.
Of course, everybody has their own opinion on this, and I fully expect the flamage to start quickly.
Hi Ernest, Thanks for the response. So would you say that it is better to develop Java apps using one of these IDE's rather than VI or EMACS? Or do you still feel that there are a few edges that they have over IDE's?
author and iconoclast
I now think it's better to use Eclipse or NetBeans (or especially IDEA) than to use Emacs for Java development.
I think it's incredibly important to know a little vi (and even a little "ed") to be a UNIX user, however. Make sure you know the fundamentals. One of these days, X/Windows might not start for you, and knowing how to use vi could save your butt.
To LEARN Java, use an editor like VI. To USE Java commercially, use an IDE like Eclipse (but not after learning it properly without one).
The key here is productivity. While you can do anything by hand, IDEs take away the repetitive chores and catch typos and sometimes logic errors while you type so you loose less (or no) time correcting them. This hampers learning greatly but speeds up development by making you more productive.