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IntelliJ IDEA 11 - What is New

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JetBrains released IDEA 11 before Christmas, bringing improvements to performance, Groovy and Grails support, and to Version Control plugins. InfoQ took a detailed look at what is new.

During our tests we felt the overall performance was noticeably better than in previous releases. Code completion even in large projects works well.

Groovy developers gain IDE support for the still beta 2.0 versions. There are some limitations - for example the Groovy 2.0 @TypeChecked annotation only shows up after compilation in the console output, not directly in the source as editor warning - but the addition is welcome.

With regards to version control IDEA 11 features some goodies for Git and GitHub users. It helps finding related commits from the version log and even allows creating gists out of the IDE. Subversion users however will have to wait for 11.1 to receive support for SVN 1.7, according to a developer post on the IDEA blog, which we felt was a bit disappointing. Support for Mercurical also seems to be lagging, and is still sub par compared to what Git gets. During our tests we encountered what appear to be some serious bugs with the hg plugin failing to track changes, claiming no files having changed during an editing session.

IDEA 11 also has now support for using Gradle, but we found some problems with it, and struggled to get it to work with some of our existing Gradle projects.

Other notable new features from the release notes include:

  • updates to Android development support, which now covers the Android 4 SDK (Ice Cream Sandwich), and adds a UI preview pane.
  • Significant updates to the Scala plugin, with better ScalaTest and ScalaDOC support as highlights.
  • Updates to the Diff component with support for diffing on JAR-files, which enables developers without access to the source code to see minor changes between releases easily.

The UI has also been refreshed and looks more consistent across tools and languages.

Idea 11 UI

In the commercial version, support for the Play Framework is mostly good, and includes an integrated command line interface (via Tools->Play with Play framework) which is very useful and fits well with the standard Play approach. We were disappointed that we couldn't automatically create Play projects, which instead has to be done manually using

play new app
cd app
play idea

after which it can be imported.

IDEA 11 updates support for the Spring ecosystem, adding new Annotations from Spring 3.1, Spring Integration and Spring Data. It optimizes Visual Editors and especially dependency diagrams for Spring models.

Since version 10.0, IntelliJ IDEA has been offered in two versions, a free open-source "Community Edition" and an expanded commercial offering called the "Ultimate Edition". The Ultimate Edition adds support for the beta of Grails 2.0, Velocity 1.7, AspectJ, the Play Framework, Spring and SQL. The Community Edition lacks the framework and application server support.

Prices for the Ultimate Edition of IDEA 11 range from 94€ for academic use over 189€ for private use to 664€ for commercial use with an upgrade subscription. Both editions can be downloaded from the IntelliJ IDEA 11 download page. The Ultimate Edition is available for a 30 day trial, which is what we used to test the new release.

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