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12 Best Java Development Tools Shortlist

After extensive evaluation, I've handpicked the 12 best Java development tools to address the app development challenges you face.

  1. Groovy - Best for dynamic scripting on the Java platform
  2. JHipster - Best for generating Spring Boot and Angular/React projects
  3. Guava - Best for Java utilities and libraries extension
  4. jProfiler - Best for in-depth Java performance analysis
  5. SonarQube - Best for continuous inspection of code quality
  6. Apache Ant - Best for automating software build processes
  7. Jenkins - Best for Java project continuous integration
  8. Spring - Best for enterprise-level Java framework development
  9. Oracle JDeveloper - Best for Oracle-based application design
  10. Apache NetBeans - Best for a comprehensive Java development environment
  11. IntelliJ IDEA - Best for intelligent Java IDE features
  12. Visual Studio Code - Best for lightweight Java code editing and debugging

Navigating Java development tools is vital, especially when you're diving into areas like Android development, Java programming, or cross-platform challenges. I've extensively explored tools, from the Java Development Kit (JDK) and open-source Java solutions to integrating APIs with HTML, JavaScript, and SQL on platforms like Windows and Linux.

These tools not only streamline your work but also tackle pain points like refactoring, unit testing, and efficient compilation. With the right selection, you can elevate the quality and efficiency of your projects.

What Are Java Development Tools?

Java development tools are specialized software utilities designed to aid programmers in creating, testing, and optimizing Java applications. These tools, ranging from integrated development environments (IDEs) and code profilers to build automation tools, are integral to developers, both novices and experts. They streamline the development process, ensure code quality, and facilitate efficient collaboration among teams.

Whether it's for building enterprise-level software, mobile apps, or web applications, these tools empower developers to tackle complex challenges and enhance the overall efficiency of their Java projects.

Overviews of the 12 Best Java Development Tools

1. Groovy - Best for dynamic scripting on the Java platform

Groovy Java development tool space view
This is a screenshot from Groovy Development Tools (GDT) that provides Eclipse and Maven (m2e) support for the Apache Groovy programming language.

In the bustling world of Java, Groovy emerges as a powerful, agile tool. It's designed to enrich the Java platform with scripting capabilities, allowing for a more dynamic coding approach.

Why I Picked Groovy:

Choosing the right tools often involves a mix of judgment and comparison. In my analysis, Groovy consistently rose to the top, distinguishing itself with its nimbleness and adaptability. The rationale behind its selection hinges on its innate ability to meld into the Java ecosystem, offering dynamic scripting that many tools simply can't.

This capability makes it best suited for those who wish to augment their Java projects with an added layer of flexibility.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Groovy shines with its concise syntax, which is easy for Java developers to pick up. It boasts features like closures, builders, and AST transformations that extend the power of Java in significant ways. Additionally, the GroovyShell and GroovyScriptEngine permit rapid application development.

When it comes to integrations, Groovy meshes well with frameworks like Grails, providing a robust web application framework. It also dovetails effectively with Spock for testing and Gradle for build automation.


Pricing upon request


  • Native integration with Java
  • Provides a concise and expressive syntax
  • Compatible with many established Java libraries and frameworks


  • Might require a learning curve for those unfamiliar with scripting
  • Performance can sometimes be slower than pure Java
  • Lack of specialized IDE tailored for Groovy, though plugins exist for popular IDEs.

2. JHipster - Best for generating Spring Boot and Angular/React projects

JHipster's monitoring screen dashboard screenshot
Here is a screenshot from JHipster's monitoring screen dashboard.

At the crossroads of modern web development, JHipster stands tall. It acts as a scaffolding tool, bringing the power of Spring Boot and front-end technologies like Angular and React together.

Why I Picked JHipster:

My selection process is meticulous, focusing on a tool's unique proposition in the ecosystem. JHipster distinguished itself as a compelling choice because of its comprehensive blueprinting capabilities. These blueprints enable rapid development, making it ideal for generating projects that utilize both Spring Boot and Angular/React. This is why it's unsurpassed when the aim is to combine these specific stacks.

Standout Features & Integrations:

JHipster boasts a rich set of tools, including a built-in development server, a welcome page, and entity generation tools. It further accelerates development with features like hot reload and database versioning.

Integration-wise, JHipster is impressive. It pairs naturally with Spring Cloud for microservice architecture, incorporates Elasticsearch for advanced search capabilities, and facilitates deployment with Docker and Kubernetes.


Pricing upon request


  • Extensive support for modern web technologies
  • Incorporates best practices by default
  • Modular architecture allowing custom blueprints


  • Might be overkill for smaller projects
  • Learning curve if unfamiliar with both Spring Boot and Angular/React
  • Default setups may include more than a project requires

3. Guava - Best for Java utilities and libraries extension

Guava library coding screenshot
This is a screenshot of the Guava library coding.

Delving into Java's realms, Guava emerges as a star. It provides a suite of utilities and libraries designed to complement Java's standard offerings.

Why I Picked Guava:

In my quest for the most robust Java tools, Guava consistently stood out. Its vast collection of utilities is unmatched, elevating it to a preferred choice. The value of Guava is evident when Java developers seek to extend the capabilities of their standard libraries, making it the top choice in such scenarios.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Guava excels with its utilities for collections, caching, primitive support, and concurrency. It also provides libraries for string processing, I/O, and hashing.

While Guava doesn't integrate in the traditional sense, its libraries complement and extend many core Java features, acting as an essential companion to the Java SDK.


Pricing upon request


  • Comprehensive utilities not found in Java's standard library
  • Actively maintained with regular updates
  • This can result in cleaner, more efficient code


  • The size of the library might increase the application footprint
  • Some functions overlap with Java's standard library
  • Requires diligence to utilize its full potential without redundancy

4. jProfiler - Best for in-depth Java performance analysis

jProfiler's number of probes screenshot
This is a screen capture from jProfiler's number of probes that show users with higher-level data from interesting subsystems in the JRE.

Performance bottlenecks in Java can be elusive, but jProfiler turns the chase into a precise operation. This tool is a beacon for Java developers, shining a light on performance issues with unparalleled clarity.

Why I Picked jProfiler:

Determining the finest tools in performance analysis, I found jProfiler to be a formidable candidate. My judgment stems from its detailed profiling capabilities, which are unparalleled in the Java space. For those seeking to dive deep into their Java application's performance metrics, jProfiler is undeniably the best.

Standout Features & Integrations:

jProfiler boasts a multitude of profiling views and a versatile heap walker. Its on-demand profiling and integrated thread profiler are particularly commendable.

Integration-wise, jProfiler supports a broad range of application servers and databases. Moreover, it integrates smoothly with popular IDEs and builds tools, ensuring a harmonious workflow.


From $12/user/month (billed annually)


  • Detailed insights into Java application behavior
  • Supports both CPU and memory profiling
  • Integrated snapshots for historic data


  • Might be overwhelming for novice users
  • Requires setup and configuration for optimal use
  • Steeper learning curve compared to simpler profilers

5. SonarQube - Best for continuous inspection of code quality

SonarQube Java development tool feature overview
This is a sample image from SonarQube's powerful language-specific analysis not only detects coding issues but also helps you understand what's wrong and how to fix it.

In the vast ocean of code quality tools, SonarQube stands as a beacon. It is a platform that continuously inspects code quality and provides a detailed overview of potential vulnerabilities.

Why I Picked SonarQube:

When it comes to code quality inspection, the options are vast. However, in my selection process, SonarQube consistently emerged on top. It wasn't just about its capabilities; it was about how efficiently and continuously it did the job. This continuous inspection is precisely why I've pegged SonarQube as the go-to for this domain.

Standout Features & Integrations:

SonarQube offers an extensive set of coding rules, detecting over 20 types of vulnerabilities. It further presents visual metrics to keep track of code quality over time.

Integration is one of its strengths. SonarQube can integrate with popular CI/CD tools, version control platforms like GitHub and GitLab, and even IDEs to provide feedback right within your code editor.


From $10/user/month (billed annually)


  • Comprehensive code rule set
  • Detailed visual metrics on code health
  • Supports multiple languages


  • The initial setup can be complex
  • Might be overwhelming for smaller teams
  • Some advanced features require an enterprise subscription

6. Apache Ant - Best for automating software build processes

How to build Java projects with Apache ANT
This is a screen capture of how to build Java projects with Apache ANT.

Apache Ant, a cornerstone in the software development lifecycle, simplifies and automates the build process. Acting as a driver behind successful project deployments, it streamlines the pathway from code to production.

Why I Picked Apache Ant:

Selecting the right build automation tool was no small feat. However, after considerable comparison and deliberation, Apache Ant's versatility and reliability stood out. Its emphasis on automating software build processes is unmatched, making it the prime choice in this arena.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Apache Ant allows the definition of building tasks in XML, offering flexibility in configuration. It supports conditional builds and can execute tasks in a specific order, ensuring prerequisites are met.

Integration-wise, Ant can work with version control systems like Git and SVN, and it's also known to cooperate well with IDEs, ensuring a streamlined build process.


Pricing upon request


  • Highly flexible with XML configuration
  • Extensive documentation and community support
  • Platform-independent


  • XML-based configuration can be verbose
  • Newer tools offer more out-of-the-box features
  • The learning curve for those new to building automation

7. Jenkins - Best for Java project continuous integration

UI test run using Java scripts in Jenkins screenshot
Here is a sample image of a UI test run using Java scripts in Jenkins.

Jenkins has been a stalwart in the world of continuous integration, especially for Java projects. It orchestrates the process of building, testing, and deploying code, ensuring that Java applications are always production-ready.

Why I Picked Jenkins:

Deciding on a CI tool, especially for Java projects, required a lot of judgment. In my comparisons, Jenkins's adaptability, plugin ecosystem, and community support made it a clear favorite. The way it handles continuous integration for Java projects is exceptional, underscoring its top position in this domain.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Jenkins boasts of a massive plugin ecosystem, catering to almost every need in the CI/CD pipeline. It also provides distributed builds, allowing projects to be built using different machines.

Its integrations are a highlight. Jenkins supports SCM tools like Git, Bitbucket, and SVN. Moreover, it integrates smoothly with deployment tools, container platforms like Docker, and even cloud platforms for scalable builds.


Pricing upon request


  • Vast plugin ecosystem enhancing its capabilities
  • An active community providing support and updates
  • Suitable for both small and large projects


  • Interface can feel dated
  • Initial setup and tuning require expertise
  • Some plugins might lack thorough documentation

8. Spring - Best for enterprise-level Java framework development

Spring's tool suite screenshot
This is an image from Spring's tool suite and it is specifically the Boot Dashboard, to connect users' local project to a remotely deployed boot app on CF using the Spring Boot Devtools.

Spring is an influential framework that addresses the complexity of enterprise application development. With a focus on flexibility, modular architecture, and productivity, Spring offers tools and extensions for building almost any kind of Java application.

Why I Picked Spring:

In the realm of Java frameworks, choosing Spring was almost intuitive. Through a comparative lens, its comprehensive ecosystem, dedication to reducing boilerplate code, and scalability made it prominent. Its suitability for enterprise-level Java framework development, backed by a vast community, solidified its position on this list.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Spring’s core container enables configuration and bean management. Additionally, the framework provides foundational support for transactions, messaging, and data access.

It integrates efficiently with other enterprise systems, databases, and messaging systems. Java developers also benefit from its compatibility with various ORM frameworks, including Hibernate.


Pricing upon request


  • Rich ecosystem covering many aspects of Java development
  • Large community and extensive documentation
  • In-built modularity for better project management


  • The steep learning curve for beginners
  • Configuration can be complex
  • Some features might be overkill for small projects

9. Oracle JDeveloper - Best for Oracle-based application design

Oracle JDeveloper's central dashboard
Here is a screenshot from Oracle JDeveloper's central dashboard.

Oracle JDeveloper stands as a comprehensive and integrated development environment from Oracle. Tailored specifically for Oracle solutions, it streamlines the process of designing, developing, debugging, and deploying applications.

Why I Picked Oracle JDeveloper:

Oracle applications demand specialized tools. During my selection phase, Oracle JDeveloper stood out, primarily due to its in-depth integration with Oracle systems. Its dedication to facilitating Oracle-based application design made it a unique and irreplaceable tool on this list.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Oracle JDeveloper offers visual and declarative approaches to application development. It covers every phase of the application lifecycle, with support for UML modeling, code profiling, and debugging.

Being an Oracle product, it offers unparalleled integration with Oracle databases, Oracle WebLogic Server, and other Oracle technologies, ensuring application design and deployment.


From $15/user/month


  • Deep integration with Oracle technologies
  • Comprehensive toolset for application lifecycle management
  • Robust support and documentation


  • Can be heavy for simple projects
  • Requires a fair amount of resources to run efficiently
  • Less versatile for non-Oracle technologies

10. Apache NetBeans - Best for a comprehensive Java development environment

Apache NetBeans Java development tool start page screenshot
This is an image from NetBeans by the Apache Software Foundation which supports only Java SE and Java EE development.

Apache NetBeans offers a holistic environment for Java developers. It encapsulates everything from coding to debugging to testing, ensuring developers have all they need in one package.

Why I Picked Apache NetBeans:

Deciding on a comprehensive Java IDE required meticulous comparison. Apache NetBeans drew my attention with its intuitive interface, built-in tools, and commitment to providing a one-stop solution for Java development. Its promise of offering a comprehensive environment for Java development stood unrivaled.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Apache NetBeans boasts of powerful code editors, profilers, and debuggers. It also offers templates and coding tips to speed up the development process.

Integration-wise, NetBeans supports Maven and Gradle, among other build tools. Additionally, it connects with databases, application servers, and other tools frequently used in Java development.


Free (Open Source)


  • Extensive set of built-in tools and plugins
  • Active community contributing to its growth
  • Open-source and community-driven


  • Occasionally, performance can be slower than competitors
  • Some plugins might lack updated versions
  • The user interface might feel cluttered to some users

11. IntelliJ IDEA - Best for intelligent Java IDE features

How users can inject fragments of SQL, XPath, HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code into Java String literals using IntelliJ IDEA's script
This image is an example of how users can inject fragments of SQL, XPath, HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code into Java String literals using IntelliJ IDEA's script.

IntelliJ IDEA is a robust integrated development environment (IDE) specifically tailored for Java development. With its focus on maximizing developer productivity, it incorporates a series of intelligent features that simplify and accelerate the coding process.

Why I Picked IntelliJ IDEA:

When determining the most adept Java IDEs, IntelliJ IDEA was impossible to overlook. Its unique approach to code assistance and its sophisticated set of tools made it stand out distinctly. For its deep intelligence and intuitive code recommendations, I've placed it as best for intelligent Java IDE features.

Standout Features & Integrations:

IntelliJ IDEA offers advanced code completion, inline static analysis, and deep navigation. Furthermore, its built-in tools for database tools, version control, and decompiler enrich the developer experience.

Integration is key with IntelliJ IDEA, making it compatible with numerous frameworks and programming languages beyond Java, such as Kotlin, Groovy, and Scala. It also provides integration with build tools like Maven and Gradle.


From $14.90/user/month (billed annually)


  • Highly intelligent coding assistance
  • Supports a broad array of languages and frameworks
  • Built-in tools for comprehensive development


  • Can be resource-intensive on some systems
  • Might feel overwhelming for beginners
  • Licensing costs can accumulate for larger teams

12. Visual Studio Code - Best for lightweight Java code editing and debugging

Visual Studio Code's code editing and redefined
Here is a screenshot of Visual Studio Code's code editing and redefined.

Visual Studio Code, often known as VS Code, is a versatile code editor with features that go beyond mere editing. While it caters to multiple languages, its extensions make it a solid choice for Java development, offering a lightweight solution for coding and debugging.

Why I Picked Visual Studio Code:

Selecting a lightweight editor that doesn’t compromise on capability led me to Visual Studio Code. I judged its responsiveness, extensibility, and efficient debugging tools as noteworthy. It's precisely its lightweight nature coupled with adept Java debugging tools that position it as best for lightweight Java code editing and debugging.

Standout Features & Integrations:

VS Code shines with features like IntelliSense code completion, Git integration, and a debugging toolkit. Its extensible marketplace allows users to add numerous plugins tailored to their needs.

One of its core strengths lies in its integrations. With Java extensions available, developers can integrate Maven, Tomcat, and even Checkstyle. Furthermore, its compatibility with a wide range of programming languages and Git integration makes it versatile.




  • Lightweight and fast performance
  • Highly extensible with a rich marketplace for extensions
  • Supports a plethora of languages and frameworks


  • Might require multiple extensions for full Java development features
  • Less integrated Java experience compared to dedicated Java IDEs
  • Updates can occasionally introduce minor bugs

Other Noteworthy Java Development Tools

Below is a list of additional Java development tools that I shortlisted, but did not make it to the top 12. They are definitely worth checking them out.

  1. Eclipse - Good for extensive plugin ecosystem
  2. Gradle - Good for building automation and dependency management
  3. Jira - Good for agile project management and bug tracking
  4. Java VisualVM - Good for monitoring, troubleshooting, and profiling Java applications
  5. JUnit 5 - Good for modern Java testing and assertions
  6. Maven - Good for managing project lifecycles and dependencies
  7. FindBugs - Good for static code analysis in Java applications
  8. Mockito - Good for creating and configuring mock objects in Java
  9. Tomcat - Good for serving Java Servlets and JSP web applications
  10. BlueJ - Good for beginners learning Java and object-oriented concepts
  11. Java Decompiler - Good for reconstructing Java source code from bytecode

Selection Criteria For Choosing the Best Java Development Tools

In my journey through the world of Java development, I've tested each of these tools extensively. I've delved into over 30 different applications, and in the process, have whittled my favorites down based on certain criteria.

These aren't just arbitrary benchmarks; they're specifically tailored to address the needs and challenges inherent in Java development and management. I'll outline them for you below.

Core Functionality

  • Code Analysis: The tool should have the capability to scan, analyze, and offer insights into the code's quality and efficiency.
  • Build Automation: It should enable the user to compile, test, and deploy code automatically.
  • Project Management: The ability to track progress, manage tasks, and allocate resources effectively is crucial.
  • Debugging: A tool should assist in identifying, diagnosing, and rectifying any code errors.

Key Features

  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE): Provides a consolidated platform for code writing, testing, and debugging.
  • Version Control Integration: Helps manage different versions of the code and facilitates collaboration.
  • Plugin Support: Extends the functionality of the tool by integrating third-party or custom plugins.
  • Real-time Collaboration: Allows multiple developers to work simultaneously on the same project, promoting teamwork.
  • Performance Profiling: Measures how the application performs in terms of speed and resource utilization.
  • Static Code Analysis: Reviews the code without executing it, focusing on patterns that could lead to errors.


  • Intuitive Interface: For this kind of tool, a clear, structured layout is essential, making it easier for developers to navigate through various functions and features.
  • Customizable Workspace: Every developer has their preference. The tool should allow for personalization in terms of themes, layouts, and shortcuts.
  • Accessible Documentation: Given the technical nature of these tools, comprehensive, easily accessible documentation is a must. It assists users in understanding complex features and troubleshooting issues.
  • Responsive Customer Support: When facing a roadblock, timely and knowledgeable customer support can make all the difference, ensuring that developers can proceed without prolonged interruptions.
  • Efficient Onboarding Process: A learning curve is expected, but the tool should offer tutorials, walkthroughs, or starter templates to help users get started more effectively.

Most Common Questions Regarding Java Development Tools

What are the benefits of using these Java development tools?

There are several advantages to integrating these Java development tools into your workflow:

  1. Efficiency: They streamline the development process, reducing the time required from coding to deployment.
  2. Error Reduction: Many of these tools offer static and dynamic code analysis, helping identify and rectify errors early in the development cycle.
  3. Collaboration: Features like real-time collaboration and version control enable developers to work together, even from different locations.
  4. Customization: With a myriad of plugins and integrations available, developers can tailor their environment to fit their specific needs and preferences.
  5. Continuous Learning: The tools often come with extensive documentation and community support, fostering an environment of continuous learning and problem-solving.

How much do these Java development tools typically cost?

The cost of Java development tools can vary significantly based on their features, brand, and target audience. Some basic tools start as low as $5/user/month, while enterprise-level solutions can go well above $100/user/month.

Can you explain the typical pricing models of these tools?

Certainly, the most common pricing models for Java development tools include:

  • Subscription-based: Monthly or yearly fees for access to the software and its features.
  • Perpetual License: A one-time purchase price for indefinite use of the software, though updates might require additional fees.
  • Freemium: These tools offer a free version with basic functionalities and a paid version with advanced features.

Which are the most expensive software options on the list?

Enterprise-level solutions like certain versions of IntelliJ IDEA or specialized tools tailored for large-scale applications usually fall on the higher end of the pricing spectrum.

Are there any free tool options?

Yes, several Java development tools offer free versions. Eclipse and BlueJ are examples of completely free tools. Others, like IntelliJ IDEA or Visual Studio Code, provide both free and paid versions, with the free version typically having fewer features.

Which tool is the cheapest on the list?

While several tools offer free versions if I'm focusing on the lowest-priced paid plans, tools like BlueJ stand out as they are entirely free. For tools with both free and paid options, Visual Studio Code's extensions for Java can be added at no extra cost.

Do these tools come with trial periods?

Many Java development tools, especially those with subscription-based pricing, offer trial periods. This allows users to explore the features and functionalities before committing to a purchase. It's always a good idea to check the official website of the tool in question for trial details.

Other App Development Tools Reviews


Navigating the myriad of Java development tools can be a daunting task, especially with the plethora of options available. This guide has distilled the essence of each tool, focusing on its unique selling points, core functionalities, and the criteria that matter most when choosing a tool for Java development. The FAQs further illuminate the benefits and pricing models, offering a comprehensive view to help make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  1. Match tool to task: Not every Java development tool is a one-size-fits-all solution. Assess your specific requirements, whether it's intelligent code completion, collaborative features, or extensive integrations, and select a tool that aligns with those needs.
  2. Cost vs. value: While pricing is an important factor, it's essential to weigh the cost against the tool's features and benefits. Sometimes, investing a bit more can yield significant efficiency and productivity gains in the long run.
  3. Community and support matter: Java development tools with robust community support and extensive documentation can make a significant difference, especially when facing challenges or seeking to expand your skill set.

What Do You Think?

While this guide aims to be comprehensive, the vast landscape of Java development tools means there might be some noteworthy tools that slipped through the cracks. If you've had a great experience with a Java development tool not mentioned here, please share it. Your suggestions and insights can benefit the entire community and might make it to future updates of this guide. Looking forward to your recommendations.

By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.