JetBrains Opens Early Access program for IntelliJ IDEA

Software development toolmaker JetBrains has opened an Early Access Program (EAP) for the upcoming release of version 2021.1 of its venerable IntelliJ IDEA integrated development environment (IDE), giving fans of the tool and chance to take this version for a pre-release build test drive.

Among other things, this release will provide basic support for JDK16, due in March. It also introduces a new Run Targets feature that makes it possible to easily run and debug Java applications in Docker and on remote machines.

"We are primarily treating IntelliJ IDEA 2021.1 as a quality release that will enhance the product's usability and its UI," said Irina Maryasova in a company blog post. The focus will be on pain points identified by the user community in the company's issue tracker, she said, and there are plans to deliver several new features, as well.

This EAP includes the first installment of support for Java projects inside WSL 2, Microsoft's major overhaul of the underlying architecture that uses virtualization technology and a Linux kernel to enable new features. The primary goals of this update are to increase file system performance and add full system call compatibility, Microsoft has said. IntelliJ IDEA can now perform a number of actions inside WSL 2, including detecting detect JDK installations, installing JDKs, and compiling and running projects using the IntelliJ IDEA build system. Support for Maven and Gradle projects in WSL 2 is coming, the company says, and will be released in subsequent EAP builds.

Among the new features in the 2021.1 release is the new Run Targets, which allows developers to run, test, and debug their application on a target--a configured environment where the IDE will execute the code.

Another feature, the Space plugin, is now available out of the box, which means developers can connect their IDEs to their organizations in JetBrains Space to view and clone project repositories, write complex scripts that use Space APIs, and review their teams' code.

There's also a new built-in browser preview to IntelliJ IDEA that allows devs to quickly preview HTML files. Any changes made to HTML files in the IDE, as well as in the linked CSS and JavaScript files, will be immediately saved and the preview will update on the fly.

It is now possible to configure how the IDE will treat external dependencies when searching a text string within a project. And in response to user feedback, the company is returning the option to customize settings when importing Maven projects.

"IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate currently allows you to run Java applications, JUnit tests, and Maven commands from Java, Maven, and Spring Boot projects on Docker, SSH, and WSL targets," Maryasova said.

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].