December 06, 2012, 5:15 PM — JetBrains has thoroughly revamped its IntelliJ Idea IDE for Java, redesigning the user interface on top and installing a new, faster compiler underneath.
IntelliJ 12 is also the first version of the integrated development environment to support the upcoming release of Java 8.
First released in 2001, IntelliJ is one of a number of popular IDEs used for writing Java applications, alongside Oracle's NetBeans and JDeveloper as well as the open-source Eclipse.
Developers who upgrade will instantly notice a change in the background color to the program's interface. It now is dark gray, whereas it used to be white. The redesigned user interface, nicknamed Darcula, will allow developers to better focus on the code itself, the company claimed.
In rewriting the compiler, JetBrains decoupled the process of compiling a program from the IDE itself. Now, a developer can continue to work in the IDE as a program is being compiled, because the two tasks now run as separate processes on the computer. JetBrains has also restructured how IntelliJ manages class dependencies.
Because of these changes under the hood, the compiler should build programs more quickly, while using less system memory, the company claimed. IntelliJ can now also automatically compile a program, based on cues set by the programmer for when to do so. For instance, it can compile a program whenever changes have been committed to the file holding the source code for the program.
IntelliJ also can work with the next version of the Java programming language, Java 8. Although Java 8 is not expected to be fully released until next year, this version of IntelliJ can support many of the new additions to the language, such as lambda expressions. It also provides ways to easily apply the new features to existing code.
Other new features for IntelliJ include a new user interface designer for Android clients, as well as better support for the Spring application framework and for Java Enterprise Edition application servers. The software can now work with Java hosted services offered by CloudBees and VMware.
IntelliJ is priced at US$99 for academic use, $199 for personal use, and starts at $499 for commercial use. JetBrains also offers a community edition at no cost.