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Is there a Java IDE written in Java?

I just got my year 9 DET laptop today at school, and there are all sorts of restrictions set in place. Somewhat annoyingly, you cannot run any executable other than the ones already installed on the system (for some reason they haven't disabled the use of Command Prompt, PowerShell, or strangely enough, regedit). They allow you to run Java executables, so I thought that would be the only way to be able to program on my crappy laptop at school (when I have finished all my work, naturally) :D


By written in Java, I also mean that the executable, that is used to run the program, has the file extension ".jar", thus running on the JVM.

Edit 2:

I tried the DrJava IDE, and it worked great, thanks (I can compile and execute programs)! Regarding running Eclipse as through the command line using the command "java -jar "C:/Users.../org.eclipse..."". This results in an error producing a log saying file, the main error is:

MESSAGE An error occurred while automatically activating bundle org.eclipse.ui.workbench (182).

How do I fix this error (I much perfer working with Eclipse than any other IDE)?

Edit 3:

Regarding my last edit, just disregard it :D. I fixed the problem by downloading the latest version of Eclipse.

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Does it have the JDK (Java developer kit) installed, or just the Java runtime? If you don't have the JDK, and you can't install new executables, then you're stuck, unfortunately. –  Mike Baranczak Feb 13 '12 at 6:35
Well, I have portable version of the JDK, in the IDE I can just set the source of the JDK for the compiler the directory where I have copied it. –  Darestium Feb 13 '12 at 6:44
Another thing: none of the Java IDEs are just packaged as a single .jar file. The typical set-up has a small native executable that then launches the Java process. This is meant to hide the complexity. It also means that on your locked-down computer, you won't be able to launch the IDE the way it was intended, and you'll have to jump through a lot of hoops just to start it. –  Mike Baranczak Feb 13 '12 at 6:47
I don't know a java ide that is not written in java (yeah yeah emacs, vim, notepad) –  NimChimpsky Feb 13 '12 at 11:18
@NimChimpsky, Emacs JDE is quite a decent Java IDE. –  SK-logic Feb 13 '12 at 12:44
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7 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Eclipse is written in Java.

"Written in Java" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclipse_%28software%29

EDIT: To address the question's edit about running the IDE as a .JAR file:

"Alternatively, you can launch Eclipse by directly invoking the JVM as follows:

java -jar eclipse/plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher_1.0.0.v20070606.jar "

Source: http://wiki.eclipse.org/FAQ_How_do_I_run_Eclipse%3F

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Is there an executable JAR available to run eclipse? The OP cannot run native executables. –  V_P Feb 13 '12 at 20:53
"Alternatively, you can launch Eclipse by directly invoking the JVM as follows: java -jar eclipse/plugins/org.eclipse.equinox.launcher_1.0.0.v20070606.jar "- wiki.eclipse.org/FAQ_How_do_I_run_Eclipse%3F I think this suffices? I can add it in my answer if so. –  Matthew Doucette Feb 13 '12 at 21:36
I jumped the gun and added it in my answer already. –  Matthew Doucette Feb 13 '12 at 22:07
Regrading running Eclipse as through the command line using the command "java -jar "C:/Users.../org.eclipse..."" This results in an error producing a log saying file, the main error is "!MESSAGE An error occurred while automatically activating bundle org.eclipse.ui.workbench (182).". Any Ideas on how to fix this error (I much perfer working with eclipse then any other IDE). –  Darestium Feb 14 '12 at 5:54
@Darestium, what versions of Eclipse and JDK are you running? Perhaps open a new question on this error. –  Matthew Doucette Feb 14 '12 at 13:25
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I guess Eclipse is written in Java and is also the best IDE.

Also check tIDE and BlueJ 2.

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Eclipse runs on a front end framework called SWT, which is not considered pure Java, but it does run on a std VM –  Martijn Verburg Feb 13 '12 at 7:49
"Best IDE" - chortle - see programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/21987/…. ;-) –  Gary Rowe Feb 13 '12 at 17:43
Actually I'd say Eclipse was the worst of the big 3, behind Netbeans as well (at least at a superficial level)--but many places only write their plugins for Eclipse so it's the least common denominator and often you just don't have a choice. –  Bill K Feb 13 '12 at 17:59
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One IDE I have been working with is Netbeans. It's a VERY popular IDE that's fully written in Java.

The best part, it's free, easy to use, and whatnot. I've found it to be very useful when trying to program Windows applications in Java. You can find some useful articles here.

Netbeans also has plugins, also written in Java if that's your interest, which can either put less weights on your shoulder and whatnot. It also works for PHP and C/C++ so it's amazing.

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I agree, Netbeans is really amazing! –  mort Feb 13 '12 at 8:36
Is there an executable JAR available? The OP cannot run a native executable (.exe). –  V_P Feb 13 '12 at 20:54
Are you trying to find Netbeans under an executable JAR form? If so, I don't think you're going to have any luck, so far I haven't seen it. I don't think you can find that, since Netbeans has alot of dependencies and files, not to mention the libraries. At it's base, it's a compiler, and it needs the full program. –  Bugster Feb 13 '12 at 20:57
Yah, I need it in a executable jar form. –  Darestium Feb 14 '12 at 4:35
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Jetbrains has recently made much of their IntelliJ IDE, which is written in Java, as open-source. Mostly what is missing in the "Community Edition" is support for web-based and enterprise apps.

You can download a binary, or download the source and source and build it yourself using the JSDK and some additional libraries.

They also sell an academic version of the full version of the IDE for $99. Here is a comparison of the free and paid versions.

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However, it doesn't always run on OpenJDK too well. –  Martijn Verburg Feb 13 '12 at 7:48
IntelliJ is where it is at. I was fortunate enough to work somewhere briefly where they bought all the developers an IntelliJ license and I was not disappointed. It is a little bit too expensive though seeing as how Eclipse is 90% there. –  maple_shaft Feb 13 '12 at 12:26
@maple_shaft It's that extra 10% that makes all the difference. Still, Eclipse is a very good IDE. –  Gary Rowe Feb 13 '12 at 17:44
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The IDE DrJava developed at Rice University is entirely written in Java and is obtained as a jar file. It has many nice features for beginning programmers, including an Python-like interactive shell. Get it here.

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Can you boot from your thumb drive? If so, then that's the way to go. I'm sure you can find a version of Ubuntu or Mint that you can set up, and then you can do whatever you need.

If you can't even do that, you might want to try writing a launcher of some sort. Just a simple Java program that takes your command arguments and executes them from the Java runtime (basically Runtime.exec("your commands here");). I have no idea how they've locked down your laptop, so I can't say whether it'll work or not, but it should be quick enough to try.

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Booting from a thumb drive is the way to go. Much better than trying to do anything with a crippled Windows installation. I don't know why I didn't think of that. If that's not possible, maybe boot from a CD; I recall Ubuntu lets you boot from the installation CD, and keep all your user data on the Windows partition. –  Mike Baranczak Feb 14 '12 at 4:08
No, I have to acsess to the BIOS (password set by the DET), and the first boot option is the hard drive, it's a netbook, so there is no acsess to a cd drive, and you cannot boot from a thumbdrive due to the boot order. –  Darestium Feb 14 '12 at 4:37
@Darestium - I take it that this machine belongs to the school system, and not to you. So trying to crack the BIOS would be illegal, and I certainly wouldn't recommend that sort of thing. –  Mike Baranczak Feb 15 '12 at 18:51
Yes, exactly, so I guess running a java file is OK, because java is also preinstalled with the system. So I don't see anything wrong with running a program that is supported by default. –  Darestium Feb 15 '12 at 20:47
@TMN, yes I have tryed that, a friend also suggested doing that, but sadly it did not work :( –  Darestium Mar 13 '12 at 9:57
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Though, I am not sure if I would label it an "IDE", it is a text editor centred around programmers and does come in executable JAR format. Take a look at jEdit, I have provided a link below to the download page.

In your case, you would download the Java-based installer.


There are many plugin(s) available, so, you could essentially build it into an IDE. It got a favourable reception as well, you can see this on the Wikipedia page below.


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