I’m not going to cross post my O’Reilly Blog entry on Red Hat Developer Studio.
I’ll just give the 2 minute summary. An IDE (integrated Development Environment) is like Microsoft Office for Developers – you could use notepad instead, but an IDE makes the overall writing experience easier. Microsoft Visual Studio is the main non-Java IDE. For Java , you have the choice of Eclipse (and other tools built on it such as JBoss IDE, JBuilder ,Websphere and Weblogic studio), IntelliJ or Sun’s Netbeans. Very much a personal preference as to which is best of the three of these.
For me, I tend to use Eclipse (1) because I can install it on any client site (2) If an IDE preference is stated on a project, it tends to be Eclipse and (3) There are plugins available for almost anything – including non-Java languages such as Ruby.
Or rather , I download a version of Eclipse with all the plugins pre-packaged – which is what Red Hat Developer Studio does.