What Are JetBrains Plugins? 

JetBrains are the makers of the popular IntelliJ IDEA IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and other developer tools. They offer a suite of software development tools that caters to different programming languages and technologies. 

JetBrains plugins are software extensions that add new features or functionalities to these tools. They are designed to optimize your workflow, simplify complex tasks, and provide an improved user experience. They provide a variety of features such as code completion, error detection, and quick navigation.

With hundreds of plugins available, there is almost certainly one that fits your specific needs. Whether you're a Java developer needing a plugin for better code management, a Python developer looking for a tool to enhance your coding efficiency, or a web developer seeking a plugin for superior HTML and CSS support, JetBrains plugins have got you covered.

This is part of a series of articles about code collaboration.

3 Benefits of using JetBrains Plugins 

JetBrains plugins can turbocharge developer productivity, streamline your tasks, and transform your coding experience. Here are the main benefits of using plugins:

  • Automate repetitive tasks: As a developer, you might find yourself doing the same thing over and over again. These repetitive tasks can be time-consuming and monotonous. However, with JetBrains plugins, you can automate these tasks, saving you time and effort.
  • Improving code quality: Many plugins offer features like code inspections, coding style checks, and automated refactoring, which can significantly improve the quality of your code. This not only makes your code more readable and maintainable, but it also reduces the likelihood of bugs and errors.
  • Learn faster: There are plugins designed specifically for educational purposes, offering interactive programming courses and coding challenges. These can be a great resource for sharpening your programming skills and learning new technologies.

Learn more in our detailed guide to code comments best practices

How to Install and Manage Extensions in JetBrains IDEs 

Installing and managing JetBrains Extensions is a straightforward process. To install an extension, go to File > Settings > Plugins in your IDE, then click on Marketplace. Here, you can search for the extension you want to install. Once you've found it, click on Install, and after the installation is completed, restart your IDE to activate the extension.

Source: JetBrains

To manage your existing extensions, in the same Plugins window, you can see a list of your installed extensions under the Installed tab. Here, you can enable or disable extensions, update them, or uninstall them if you no longer need them.

You can also browse the JetBrains Plugins Marketplace directly from this link.

Notable JetBrains Plugins 

While there are many JetBrains Extensions available, we will focus on the top seven that have proven to be most useful for developers of different levels.

GitToolBox: Track Changes in Code

If you're a developer, you're likely familiar with Git. It's a crucial tool for version control, allowing you to track changes in your code and collaborate with other developers. However, managing Git can sometimes be a bit tedious. That's where the GitToolBox plugin comes in.

GitToolBox enhances the existing Git functionality in JetBrains IDEs, offering a more user-friendly interface and additional features. With GitToolBox, you can easily view the Git status of your files, access more detailed commit information, and automate some common Git activities.

One standout feature of GitToolBox is its auto fetch. This feature automatically fetches changes from your remote Git repository, ensuring that you always stay updated with the most recent changes. This saves you from manual fetching and helps prevent merge conflicts. With GitToolBox, your interaction with Git becomes smoother and more efficient.

Source: JetBrains

Doc-Aware Search Everywhere

Finding a specific piece of information in your code or your IDE's documentation can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Doc-Aware Search Everywhere can help.

Doc-Aware Search Everywhere is a JetBrains plugin that enhances your IDE's search functionality. Not only does it search through your code, but it also digs through your IDE's documentation, hence making it easier to find what you are looking for.

Whether you are searching for a particular method in your code, a specific setting in your IDE, or a piece of documentation on how to use a certain feature, Doc-Aware Search Everywhere makes your search fast, easy, and fruitful.

Source: JetBrains

WakaTime: Coding Activity Stats

WakaTime is a JetBrains plugin that provides you with insights into your coding activity. It's a time tracker designed specifically for programmers, allowing you to monitor the time you spend on different projects, languages, and IDEs.

With WakaTime, you can set daily coding goals and monitor your progress towards these goals. It provides detailed visualizations of your coding activity, making it easy to spot trends and patterns. This can help you manage your time more effectively and identify areas where you might be spending too much or too little time.

One of the key advantages of WakaTime is its seamless integration with JetBrains IDEs. Once installed, it automatically tracks your coding activity without any further action required from you. This makes it a convenient tool for developers looking to gain more insights into their coding habits.

Source: JetBrains

Key Promoter X: Remembering Shortcut Keys

Remembering shortcut keys can be a daunting task, especially when you are new to an IDE or when the IDE has a myriad of them. However, mastering these shortcuts can be a game-changer in your coding efficiency. This is where Key Promoter X comes into play.

Key Promoter X is a JetBrains plugin that helps you learn your IDE's shortcut keys. Whenever you use the mouse to execute a command that has a keyboard shortcut, Key Promoter X pops up a small dialog showing you the corresponding shortcut. Over time, as you keep using your IDE, you will find yourself using the mouse less and the keyboard more, hence becoming a more proficient and efficient coder.

Source: JetBrains

Rainbow Brackets: Color Coding Brackets

If you've been coding for a while, you know how easy it is to get lost in a sea of brackets, especially when working with deeply nested code. This is where the Rainbow Brackets plugin comes in handy.

Rainbow Brackets is a JetBrains plugin that adds beautiful, colorful highlighting to your code's brackets. It supports round brackets, square brackets, and curly brackets, and assigns each pair a unique color. This makes it easy to visually match opening and closing brackets, hence making your code more readable and less prone to errors.

The Rainbow Brackets plugin not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your code but also significantly improves your coding productivity. You won’t have to waste precious time tracing a missing or misaligned bracket anymore.

Source: Rainbow Brackets

Jump to Line: “Go To” on Steroids

Sometimes, when debugging code or navigating through a large codebase, you may need to jump to a specific line in your file. The Jump to Line plugin is designed to expedite this process.

Jump to Line is a simple yet powerful JetBrains plugin that allows you to quickly navigate to any line in your file. By simply pressing a shortcut key, you can input the line number you want to jump to, and voila! You are there.

This plugin is particularly useful when you are dealing with error messages that reference specific line numbers. Instead of scrolling through hundreds or thousands of lines of code, you can get to the problematic line in a snap.

Source: JetBrains

EduTools: Programming Courses in Your IDE

EduTools is a must-have JetBrains plugin, especially for those who are in the process of learning to code. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to learn programming languages directly within your IDE. With EduTools, you can complete interactive programming courses that include both task descriptions and problems for you to solve.

But EduTools is not just for beginners. Even experienced developers can benefit from EduTools by using it to learn new programming languages or to further refine their skills in languages they already know. It supports a wide range of languages, including Java, Kotlin, Scala, Python, Rust, and JavaScript.

Moreover, if you are an educator, EduTools will be a great addition to your teaching arsenal. You can use this plugin to create and share coding tasks and custom learning courses with your students. This makes EduTools a versatile tool, beneficial to both learners and educators in the field of programming.

Source: JetBrains

Swimm: Automated Code Documentation

Swimm is a unique tool designed for continuous documentation and smooth onboarding of new team members in a codebase. The Swimm JetBrains Extension seamlessly integrates Swimm's capabilities directly into your JetBrains environment, ensuring that your documentation remains synchronized with your code at all times.

Key Features:

  • Generate doc structures with AI and get a head start without worrying about a blank page. Use /generate to add descriptions to code snippets or diagrams within existing docs. 
  • Collaborate & keep docs up to date, including alerts when changes to code affect your docs. 
  • Discover & browse documentation more efficiently. Easily find docs that appear next to relevant code across different repositories, directly in your IDE.
  • Setup documentation discoverability rules, ensuring critical knowledge is visible before making major changes to the team’s codebase.

With Swimm's JetBrains extension, maintaining up-to-date documentation becomes a hassle-free process. Whether you're an individual developer aiming to keep your codebase clean and well-documented, or a team looking to streamline the onboarding process for new members, Swimm offers a suite of tools to make the process smooth and efficient.