Eclipse 3.3 or NetBeans 6.0 - with surprising result

This interesting JavaWorld article compares Eclipse 3.3.1 and Netbeans 6.01 with a surprising result. The following summary, really amazed me:

Table 2. NetBeans 6.0 vs. Eclipse 3.3: Rated

Feature Weighting Eclipse 3.3 NetBeans 6.0
Ease of use/editing features 40% 2.8 3.6
Scripting/other languages 10% 3.0 3.6
Enterprise support 20% 3.2 3.0
Plugin ecosystem 30% 3.8 2.7
Total score   3.20 3.21

[the table was copied from the fourth page]

It really surprised me, that Netbeans's editor was higher rated than Eclipse's. I prefer the Netbeans editing experience, but my opinion isn't really objective :-). I just like Netbeans's editor more, without knowing the reason. The small built-in wizards like alt+insert make the coding experience more fluent - but this is really my subjective view. Most of the developers prefer Eclipse, because of the editing experience (they often miss in Netbeans e.g. the "Link With Editor" button). On the other hand, Eclipse was higher rated in the Enterprise support, what I really cannot see. Netbeans comes already with really good built-in Java EE 5 support. Applications servers like BEA WLS, JBoss, Glassfish in 6.1 WebSphere are supported as well out-of-the-box. Netbeans comes with SQL-Explorer, Visual JSF designer, HTML-Editor, XML-Support, profiling support for application servers. All this functionality is only partially available on the Eclipse Side - sometimes only with additional commercial plugins like MyEclipse. The Enterprise Support is one of the reasons, why I prefer Netbeans over Eclipse in my Java EE 5 projects.

Eclipse also do not have a visual UML support. The excerpt from the article below simply isn't true:
"...For example, when it comes to UML modeling, NetBeans has a built-in modeling tool that supports UML (including use case, class, collaboration, sequence, and activity diagrams). Code can be abstracted into a UML diagram, and UMLs converted to code. Eclipse, by comparison, offers the Enterprise Modeling Framework (EMF), which is a platform for building tools, and the graphical editor framework (GEF). If you install both of these packages, then configure them, you'll be ready to start modeling your enterprise architecture in UML. You'll have more features than you would in NetBeans, but you'll work harder to get them installed, configured, and running..."

The EMF is only a subset of MOF (Meta Object Facility), GEF is used to build Editors from metamodels. The author of the article meant perhaps GMF (Graphical Modelling Framework) - however no of this frameworks is able to generate UML-Diagrams from source code. This is Netbeans unique feature. However the availability of EMF and GMF and it's metamodelling capabilities is a huge advantage of Eclipse, especially if you would like to build code generators, ...but it wasn't mentioned in this article. Eclipse comes only with the UML metamodel - but I do not know any visual designer (did I miss something?).

I also do not see, that the amount of available plugins, indicates the quality of the IDE. You just need less plugins for Netbeans to complete your work. Actually I only use the UML-plugin - and this one only for the documentation of high level concepts.

I explained my view of Eclipse and Netbeans in the post "Thinking loud about Eclipse and Netbeans"


hi adam,

thanks for sharing the info.

enterprise : yes, that surprised me too.

plugin : I thought that the eclipse plugin community is far far ahead than netbeans plugin community.


Posted by anjan bacchu on March 22, 2008 at 10:30 PM CET #

Hi Anjan,

you are right. There are lot more plugins available for Eclipse, than Netbeans. However the question remains: How many plugins do you really need for productive work?



Posted by on March 23, 2008 at 03:52 PM CET #

Hi admin,

Thanks for the info.

I totally agree with your perspective on the plugin ecosystem.

Frankly speaking, NetBeans's plugin architechture is way far better than Eclipse's. One of the main reason that NetBeans ecosystem's size is smaller than Eclipse is that Eclipse's plugin tutorial are well documented (This is already improved in last 2 years in NetBeans).

So I believe once NetBeans gets more and more popular, there are a lot of companies are likely to invest or port their product on NetBeans.


Posted by David Lin on March 23, 2008 at 04:10 PM CET #


Andrew Binstock, the article-writer, is heavily biased towards both Sun and Sun's products. I wouldn't consider Binstock to be a really objective person when it comes to compare Eclipse against Sun's Netbeans-IDE.

There is no true objecitivity (unfortunately). Are you objective, Adam?

Posted by F. Simoni on March 23, 2008 at 07:59 PM CET #

Scripting/other languages 10% 3.0 3.6

NB being better here then Eclipse? Oh my.... sorry but this is utterly wrong. See PHP, see Adobe-Flex, Wolfram Mathematica etc. pp. Just look at the amount of language-plugins available for Eclipse. How can anybody claim that NB beats Eclipse especially in that area?

Sorry again, Adam. But Binstock is heavily biased towards Sun's Netbeans-IDE. See his article-history on Google about comparing Eclipse vs. Netbeans.

In german: "Adam, mit diesem Blog hast du ein Eigentor geschossen."

Posted by F. Simoni on March 23, 2008 at 08:22 PM CET #

Hi F. Simoni,

I think I'm objective. I'm using both IDEs. I prefer Netbenas for my daily work, however I'm using Eclipse in case my customers have it already. I'm a self-employed consultant, before 5.0 I didn't even consider to use Netbeans. Now (5.5 / 6.1) it works really well. I also enjoy the pace of innovation. I also do not like "mainstream choices". The best IDE is probably IntelliJ, however it is commercial. So in most of my projects it would be really hard to introduce it. The introduction of Netbeans 6.0 is much easier - it is free... In most of my Java EE 5 projects we are using Netbeans - it works well - however it isn't perfect.
I do not like flame-wars - I'm just pragmatic - and I do not care about mainstream :-),

Btw. do you know a free, visual Eclipse UML-editor?

I do not know Mr. Binstock - however the results of the article were really suprising for me...

Will you come to J1? If yes we could discuss my view with a beer :-)

thank you (really) for your comments!


Posted by Adam Bien on March 23, 2008 at 09:33 PM CET #

The GTK-SWT version of Eclipse is dog slow on Linux. Somebody please take note of that and give lower points to Eclipse in ease of use section.

Posted by anonymous coward on March 23, 2008 at 09:50 PM CET #

Hi Adam,
i dislike the plugin-handling of Eclipse. It is very hard to install plugins if they have dependencies. I like the NetBeans Plugin-module, it is very easy to use. The problem is, that the plugin-community is very small. But you don't need many plugins, most functions are included in the installation.

It is very hard to compare Eclipse with NetBeans. Each of them has positive and negative points. I prefer NetBeans, but sadly, most companys are using Eclipse ;-)

Take a look at the NetBeans roadmap, this IDE is under heavy development and i hope that in near future, every missing feature from Eclipse will be added.


Posted by Siegfried Bolz on March 23, 2008 at 11:04 PM CET #

I don't think that the author of this article analysed the IDEs from the developers point of view (just noticed he is analyst and no developer ;-)).

The fists things you notice if you install both IDEs side by side and start hacking:
-NetBeans uses ANT to build your project
-Eclipse uses his own internal project structure (or ANT)

-NetBeans uses javac to compile your stuff
-Eclipse uses a self made incremental compiler

-NetBeans comes with integrated CVS/SVN (and HG in NB6.1) support.
-Eclipse not (now you need plugins)

This three points are not mentioned in the javaworld article and probably the core features of every IDE (how to build, run and organize your code). The mentioned points are also more important as they may seem initially.

eg: do I choose the faster incremental compiler for development builds and ANT/Maven+javac for final builds and risk compatibility problems between them or not...

I am also no fan of this kind of comparisons. Its like saying Star Wars is 0.1% better than Lord of the Rings... (everyone knows Star Wars is better ;-))

Posted by Michael Bien on March 23, 2008 at 11:54 PM CET #


Star Wars is much better than Lord Or Rings - and I'm not biazed :-)


Posted by Adam Bien on March 24, 2008 at 09:53 AM CET #

everybody knows you at least in Germany :-)

But what is your relation to Sun? Why are you (heavily) advocating both Sun's enterprise-stack and Sun's development-tools?

Are you REALLY an independent reviewer? Why are you member of the so-called NB Dreamteam? Being member of that dreamteam is a strong committment.

Posted by F. Simoni on March 24, 2008 at 10:24 AM CET #

BTW I would like to ask a question to the Sun-dreamteam: how successfull is Netbeans? In DE/A/Ch I can't see much presence. Eclipse is king (or queen)

I think that Sun completely missed its goals say Netbeans gain any important marketshare against Eclipse in the last two years.

Is it right or wrong? How big is Netbeans market-share right now compared to Eclipse. In case NB had been a (very) successfull project even taking big chunks of Java-IDE marketshare we probably knew it from Sun's marketing-department?

Right or wrong? Am I right that Sun's Netbeans-IDE is still long behind Eclipse's marketshare?

Posted by F. Simoni on March 24, 2008 at 10:31 AM CET #


1. I'm totally independent from Sun. I give once a year a training on average for Sun. This is the one and only commercial relation. 2 years ago I even used Eclipse and JBoss in the classes :-)
2. I'm not advocating Sun's enterprise stack. I'm just using Glassfish in the majority of my current projects. Glassfish's capabilities are unique in the opensource space... (another topic).
3. Beeing a Netbeans Dream Team Member is not a blind commitment to Netbeans. Is just a group of people who like Netbeans. We have no contracts - I can act independently.
4. I'm not REVIEWER at all. I'm just a self-employed consultant and need some tools for my projects. I'm using this blog as a scratchpad and do not care about the impacts :-).
5. Netbeans is superb in Java EE 5 space. This is what I'm mainly doing. I'm just do not using PHP or Wolfram Mathematica in my projects - so I just don't care :-).
6. I use Netbeans in all of my opensource (and really not commercial - like e.g. greenfire) projects, which I'm developing in my spare time. I'm using Netbeans for all of this. Why - because it is faster to install and share.

Posted by Adam Bien on March 24, 2008 at 10:36 AM CET #

F. Simoni,
"BTW I would like to ask a question to the Sun-dreamteam: how successfull is Netbeans? In DE/A/Ch I can't see much presence. Eclipse is king (or queen)"
I don't have to ask. Eclipse is dominant. However Netbeans 6.0 is really new - and gaining momentum. At the second JUGM / NUG meeting in Munich came already over 50 Netbeans fans. This is really not bad.

"Right or wrong? Am I right that Sun's Netbeans-IDE is still long behind Eclipse's marketshare?"

Again - you are right. Eclipse has more marketshare than Netbeans. However I just using Netbeans, because it is more efficient for me. In all my newer Java EE 5 projects we are using Netbeans + Glassfish.

As I said. I'm consulting in Java EE 5 / serverside area. I try choose the right technology for the job. For my daily Java EE 5 work Netbeans is just superb. I just don't care about marketshare and another stuff. Netbeans is free, Glassfish (this is what you probably meant by "sun's enterprise stack") also. There are some synergies between both - which is fine for me.



Posted by Adam Bien on March 24, 2008 at 12:25 PM CET #

Regarding the UML stuff just google for "eUML2".
It's based on Eclipse and for our work much better suited than NB's UML stuff (no separate project, uses javadoc like annotations).
There is a free edition available.

Posted by Anonymous on March 25, 2008 at 08:42 PM CET #

Well I think comparisons like that are likely to be found a dozen each day, these days, which obviously does indicate some momentum given that some time ago no one probably would have bothered dealing with anything else than Eclipse at all. However so far, some personal points to add:

- Maven2 support in Eclipse sucks. Period.

- It seems that though the NetBeans set of plugins so far is more limited but plugins are simply better integrated. Just try using maven2, Spring and WTP to build war artifacts in Eclipse.

- RCP documentation in Eclipse is pretty limited.

- The "Visual Editor" for building Java UIs in Eclipse hasn't been usable ever since. Nothing to be on par with Matisse in NB 6.x.

No I am in no way related to Sun, but possibly choosing a tool is a rather pragmatic thing depending on other aspects than market share. ;)


Posted by Kristian on March 26, 2008 at 10:22 AM CET #

Regarding visual UML tools for Eclipse.

Ever tried Eclipse UML2 ( It provides OCL support which NB still lacks today.

Also try Topcased UML ( which is backed by the Airbus consortium.

Posted by Klaus T. on March 31, 2008 at 06:03 PM CEST #

Kristian, would you please explain your comment "Maven2 support in Eclipse sucks. Period."?

Posted by Eugene Kuleshov on April 19, 2008 at 07:22 AM CEST #

I think netbeans lacks of editing spring configuration file.

Posted by Batbayar Bazarragchaa on January 05, 2009 at 07:21 AM CET #

1. NetBeans looks great and works well out of the box on both Linux and Windows with the same installation files!
Eclipse for Linux is terrible... and any Java IDE which is not platform independent is terrible
2. NetBeans comes from the same company which created Java in the 1st place and will always accommodate new Java / Java Web / Java EE features
3. People see how much stuff is on the Eclipse screen and say "it's a professional IDE" but it's just terrible. In NetBeans you see just what you want, when you need it.
4. NetBeans Code editor:
a. much much better color theme+highlighting
b.logical analysis: you can write code in any order/flow you wish and the editor will help you if logically possible. The Eclipse code editor is more like MS VS: if you do not write code in a certain way, it will not help you very much
c. better support for html, css, xml, jsp , sql, ... you name it, NetBeans auto-completes it:)
eg: build a small XML, generate it's DTD and then write the entire XML with autocomplete based on the DTD
5. NetBeans uses combines great open-source softw. like Ant, Glassfish, Derby and provides support for MySQL
6. NetBeans Quality of the design, features and plug-ins: all build to blend in: you can easily find your way through
7. NetBeans is a generic IDE, great for lots of languages: (Java), C/C++, PHP, JavaScript, ... I get feedback from PHP web developers saying the use NetBeans for PHP instead of php editors: eg: NetBeans PHP editor auto-converts special chars into their code=> one can read the code easier

In my opinion, Eclipse is very good + complex and was the best until NetBeans6.0. After that (especially after 6.9.1 came out) I prefer NetBeans because both have their unique features but NetBeans has 2*quality and 4*logic.

PS: saying that eclipse is better because it has lot's of plug-ins and has a greater market share is just like saying windows is the best because 80% of home PC's have it: this is obviously false:
1. important things like the internet is based on Linux servers ( about 75-80%)
2. mass usage of a less-than-quality product does not make the product better, it just makes things worse

Posted by CVictor on January 28, 2011 at 07:26 PM CET #

In my dreamworld(@Home) I work under Linux + NetBeans, In my reality(@Work) I use Windows + Eclipse... here is some of my personal experience with Eclipse:

1. sometimes cannot launch any task ( db-build, JUnit tests, ... ): "Operation waiting for 'Build Workspace' to complete"
2. Opening pom.xml editor freezes the IDE for about 2min (no, I'm not using a slow computer)
3. adding folder to build path and reconfiguring maven project removes the added folder. I lost 30min on this and after an IDE restart everything worked
4. Refactoring a .java file (JUST file renaming) scrambled the entire source code which then had to be manually repaired (by me, who else)
(this has happened more than 3 times on Eclipse Galileo)
5. Eclipse works slow in updating the project tree view with SVN info
6. Code Hints+generation:
eg: when generating a try+catch block, Eclipse adds the famous "e.printStacktrace()" which Sun regards(and is) a pointless bad practice
eg: missing useful warnings like
"missing @Override annotation"
eg: ugly equals() generation
By contrast, NetBeans gave me useful tips like System.arraycopy()

Posted by CVictor on January 28, 2011 at 07:50 PM CET #

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