Ahti Kitsik
Building tools with Python, Java, Go, JS. For enquiries email inbox@ahtik.com

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IntelliJ IDEA goes Open-Source!

16 Oct 2009 by @ahtik

Yesterday (October 15th, 2009) IntelliJ announced open-sourcing most of its IDEA editor under Apache 2.0 license.

Inevitable for growth

At some perspective this has been an inevitable move -- code editors have turned into big platforms. They are used for much more than developing pure text-based artifacts. To remain competitive you need to allow the maximum level of integration, openness and visibility. Which becomes impossible without open-sourcing all the core components. Controversially, using a permissive license (ASL, BSD, EPL, LGPL, not GPL) can turn your business into a charity organization.

Commercial offering

IDEA Platform plus Java, Groovy and Scala support are all open-sourced. It looks like IntelliJ is retaining some of the revenue stream by keeping Java EE stack closed-source, calling it IDEA Ultimate and offering it as a commercial product.

The Importance of Java Enterprise (JEE) Tooling

I think IntelliJ decision about keeping EE as a separate commercial product is a very important indicator for the whole IDE marketplace and particularly for Eclipse. Much to my surprise, at the last Eclipse members meeting Q3 call there were some very interesting download stats reported. Eclipse Galileo IDE for JEE gets 41% of the downloads! While Classic and Java combined were 34%! (Off-topic but rcp/plugin edition was 2%).

This 41% of JEE downloads does not include 3rd party distribution providers, many application server vendors have their own bundles with a pre-configured settings (for example GlassFish Tools Eclipse Bundle).

Indication for a better future

IntelliJ move and Eclipse Galileo JEE download clearly demonstrate how important is a good tooling support for Java Enterprise development.

IntelliJ move can also be a sign for Eclipse that there is now a friendly competitor who has put their bet on outperforming current Eclipse JEE feature-set with a commercial offering.

I have no experience with the IntelliJ JEE offering, is it better than the JEE tooling from Netbeans and Eclipse?

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