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Wayland Support Boosts IntelliJ-based IDEs on Linux

Wayland support is on the horizon for IntelliJ-based IDEs, promising a game-changing development experience.

For Linux fans and developers using IntelliJ-based IDEs, this is exciting news. Soon, these popular integrated development environments will be getting Wayland support. This eagerly anticipated update promises to tackle longstanding issues, such as fractional scaling woes and enhanced desktop integration with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSLg), which operates a Wayland server under the hood.

While Wayland support is a work in progress, it already enables running some Java Swing and AWT applications on Wayland.

Wayland, a cutting-edge display server protocol, seeks to replace the ageing X Window System with a more efficient, secure, and adaptable framework for graphical environments. It introduces novel paradigms in several key areas, such as drawing primitives, isolation, user authentication, transactional protocols and modular design.

Traditionally, non-Wayland-compatible graphical applications have relied on XWayland – a bridge between X11 and Wayland. While this setup works for most scenarios, it comes with its own set of issues, including problems with drag and drop, window switching, and scaling. The most glaring problem is the scaling issue, where X11 applications render at a lower resolution, resulting in blurry text. Wayland’s native support for window scaling addresses this problem effectively.

However, implementing Java support for Wayland is a complex task. It involves creating a new Toolkit, which encompasses various GUI-related aspects, such as graphics, input handling, and more. While the high-level task is clear – translating Wayland APIs to Java and vice versa – the details differ significantly.

The development of the Wayland toolkit, known as Project Wakefield, began with the Oracle desktop team. As of August 2023, it offers features like software-based rendering, minimal window decorations, interactive window management, HiDPI support, mouse and keyboard support, and more. The immediate priorities include Vulkan-based accelerated rendering, input methods, clipboard support, and splash screen implementation.

Wayland’s architecture promises improved performance and security, bypassing X11’s complexities. As a result, IntelliJ-based IDEs running on Wayland are expected to exhibit enhanced stability and responsiveness. While there’s still work to be done, the progress made so far indicates that a native Wayland experience for these IDEs is on the horizon.

Via JetBrains blog

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