JetBrains Releases 'Massive Update' of IntelliJ IDEA

Software development toolmaker JetBrains has released the latest version of its code-centric Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA. Version 2017.2 is a "massive update" of the popular development environment, the company says, and comes with new features, bug fixes and more support for Java 9.

Not surprisingly, support for the upcoming release of Java 9 is a focus in this version of the IDE -- specifically, support for the Java Platform Module System (JPMS) specification, better known as Jigsaw. JetBrains began supporting Jigsaw in the 2017.1 release in March. IntelliJ IDEA 2017.2 adds supporting features, including the new Java Module Diagram capability, which aims to provide developers with help getting up to speed with Java modularity.

JetBrains Developer Advocate Trisha Gee described the new capability in a blog post, with an example diagram. "These diagrams give a clear picture of which modules have been defined and which modules they depend upon," she wrote, "and can help you either to create a clean separation when creating a modular system, or simply visualize what's going on with the new Java Platform Module System."

Java Module Diagram
[Click on image for larger view.] Java Module Diagram (source: JetBrains)

Next to the Jigsaw features, the top updates in this release are the smarter code completion capabilities and control flow analysis tool. The Smart Completion feature is now aware of builder classes in a project and able to suggest chains of method calls on its first call. The chain suggestions are sorted according to how frequently symbols are used in the current project. This feature works for Java only.

The control flow analysis tool from the previous version becomes "much smarter" in this version, and now detects a wider array of problems, especially when Booleans, strings, arrays, lists, and maps are involved. It also checks nullability issues when corresponding annotations are used on type parameters for collections and maps.

This version of the IDE also comes with new inspections and refactorings, an updated debugger, and Spring Boot actuator endpoints. Support for Kotlin 1.1.3 and Groovy 2.5.0 is also included. The updated Kotlin editor can now display Parameter hints, which was introduced in a previous release for Java, and Type hints, that is inferred type where it's not explicitly set.

Two editions of the new version of IntelliJ IDEA are available from the company Web site: a community edition for JVM and Android development, which is free and open source, and an "Ultimate" edition for Web and enterprise development, which includes a free trial.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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