[IDE] Using IntelliJ IDEA for Android development

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Senior Member
May 7, 2009
When starting with Android development most people start so by using Eclipse, so did I. Unfortunately for me this was a quite frustrating experience no matter if I developed on Windows or Linux. I often had troubles launching projects after some changes and was forced to rebuild the whole workspace (which takes a while esp. if you included a couple library projects). So after a while I decided to switch to IDEA which is a lot more satisfying. I never had any issues with broken projects and everything just builds so much faster.

One big difference (and it seems many people have troubles with it) is IDEA's handling of library projects. Unfortunately I think this is done in a very logical way, as each "project" is handled as a model. Means you create a project ("My app"), add a module for your main app project, and add new modules for each library project you would add. For each modules you can set the dependencies and say on which modules it depends.

In the newest version (12) Jetbrains also added an Android UI designer, which was one of the features not available before.

If you are curious you can download and install IDEA from their website, or when you are using Ubuntu you can simply download it from Software center.


And here's a nice article given a quick introduction:



Apr 30, 2013
What about the on-the-fly analysis performed by IDEA during development? Does it detect many bugs?
Have you never used this functionality?


Inactive Recognized Developer / Retired Senior Mod
Jul 9, 2008
I've only had a brief play with it so far - updated the Android SDK and loaded 1 project from GitHub, but it compiles like lightning compared to Eclipse. Thanks for letting us know about this - it's much appreciated :)


Senior Recognized Developer
Sep 18, 2007
So how does it handle multi-module projects? The advantage of Eclipse/Qt Creator is you can keep multiple projects open at once plus the plugin integration with Maven and Git.

I briefly tried out IntelliJ a couple months back and immediately stepped away when it failed multi-module requirement for me.

More speed than molasses Eclipse would be nice, though the Windows version runs tolerably on fast i5 and SSD.

If it supports .webp on the UI designer (unlike Eclipse), then I'll be all over it!


Senior Member
May 31, 2011
I'm a total noob/beginner when it comes to programming - never really been into it. That said, I've recently been giving it a go using Eclipse - creating my own Android app. I've just installed IDEA and find it far better to use then Eclipse. Really loving it actually.


Senior Member
Jun 26, 2012
I never got into Eclipse. The only Eclipse project I tried using was IBM's Lotus version of OpenOffice. The thing was huge, bloated with Eclipse libraries.

Netbeans is my preferred IDE (also good for C++ and others) but it, unfortunately, falls short for Android.

Intellij worked first try. Glad to see a forum for this on XDA!


Senior Member
Sep 4, 2008
Really happy this gets some attention, I've switched from Eclipse to IDEA a while ago and I can't go back.
IDEA is just so smart and works so nice!
I think the best part of IntelliJ is that when you are programming you do it in one environment, from IntelliJ I can see Jira stories, commit svn/git and everything else I do while programming, without switching to 5 different applications

I hope more and more people will switch to IntelliJ, thanks for this thread!


Senior Member
Mar 5, 2010
Isn't anyone here bothered by the slow compile times compared to Eclipse? I'm working on a relatively large project, and each time anything is modified it seems to rebuild from scratch. Eclipse in comparision is able to launch the app with the new changes almost instantly.

I love IntelliJ when it comes to it's editor and project management, but in the end it takes about 20s to get my changes on the screen. I'm probably saving some time not having to bother with corrupted workspaces and such though.
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Senior Member
Jan 6, 2012
One thing that bugs me about all of these options is that they don't work on Android itself. Not a big deal for me yet, but I see it becoming more important as we start to see Android devices with bigger screens and keyboards.

I know that AIDE is a decent IDE that runs on Android, but it only runs on Android and it doesn't compare with Eclipse or IntelliJ (yet).

I heard that the current version of Eclipse (4.2) enables some degree of GUI independence, and the next version (due in June) enforces that. That would be a good step forward, but still mostly a theoretical one.

If JetBrain were to undertake the rather large task of making IntelliJ work on Android, as well as existing desktop platforms, they would certainly get my $.

I wonder - is the new Gradle based build system compatible with Android itself?

I found the new-ish GAE Endpoints service to be quite interesting in that part of the build process (code generation) happens on the server as a service. This strikes me as very Googly and I wonder whether Google will provide Android build as a service sometime in the near to medium future. That would certainly help move us towards a platform independent future, though I guess AIDE has shown that it is not the build system, but the IDE, that is holding us back from developing on Android.


Senior Member
Apr 21, 2012
I've been using IntelliJ since just after I started Android development (2+ years ago). I had tried Eclipse before that, and besides the excellent feature set, always found the editor to be lacking in many ways (still no virtual space). So when starting with Android development I just hated it because I had to do it in Eclipse. No offense to the people who use and love it, I'm sure that it is a great IDE, it just does not suit me at all.

When I discovered IntellJ, I immediately felt comfortable within the IDE. This made me enjoy the coding that much more which, to me, beats out any feature that an IDE can ever have. IntelliJ has some shortcomings, but overall I find it an exceptional IDE for Android development. It can be a tad sluggish in large projects, but not to the point of annoyance. It is also insanely stable, and I have NEVER in 2 years of working with it had a single crash - just brilliant.

Also, having been using it over an extended period, I can safely say that they excellent developers at JetBrains have constantly been improving on the Android support within the IDE. Feature wise, I think that IntellJ is definitely almost on par with Eclipse, and they have done this without any official support from Google (as far as I know). If Google would take notice of IntelliJ and provide support (I'm thinking ADT) that would just make it even better - here's hoping.

I would highly recommend anyone attempting android development to give IntellJ a go - the Community Edition is free. Especially developers coming from Visual Studio :)


Senior Member
Jan 10, 2011
Thanks, tried it, but I prefer Eclipse.
I'm a new programmer (now learning), and it seems better for me now.
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Mar 1, 2012
I really cant figure out how to get IDEA to see my install of the android SDK. It looks like their setup tutorial assumes default locations for jdk and android-sdk on windows. How do you setup paths if android-sdk is somewhere else? (using a mac)

Also, second link on the first post seems to be dead right now.


Retired Recognized Developer
Sep 30, 2007
St. Petersburg
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Senior Member
Jan 27, 2009
I am on my second attempt at using IDEA for Android dev and I am stuck at the same point as last time, and its the only thing that Eclipse has going for it: I want to create a new Android app, min SDK 8, target SDK 17 (or whatever). This is fairly easy in Eclipse and I can go though the wizard for a new project, choose my settings, even the app icon and end up with the bare outline of my app that has the ICS style (ie an ActionBar & Holo theme)... can I hell do this is IDEA. I know that there is something I am/am not doing that is causing this but I have followed tutorials for adding support libs and even had a go at ActionBarSherlock.

I think this is where a lot of users are scared off of IDEA - I think its interface and usability is better than Eclipse, hell, the GUI editor for the layout XML files is better in IDEA than in Eclipse! (Eclipse freaked out on me several times trying to put static, non moving buttons at the bottom of the screen with a vertical scrollview above them, IDEA, sure, no problem!).
If they could sort the basics out, like getting the wizards included and even if they could allow you to add in various other frameworks (ABS, ViewPager etc) then they would have a winner.

On that matter, anyone got a tutorial on setting up a new project in IDEA the same as Eclipse with Holo theme?

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