What is the difference between using the IntelliJ IDEA plugin in gradle and the gradle support in IDEA 11 and which is the preferred way of using gradle-based projects with idea?
The gradle idea plugin (apply plugin: ‘idea’) has been around for much longer and is used in many, many projects (including the gradle core team). It has more features and is more happy to tackle complex and unconventional builds.
The IDEA 11 as of early 2012 is fairly young and is actively developed. It gives a promise of much better usability as the IDE configuration can sync automatically to the changes in the build.gradle. Down the road, the IDEA plugin will surpass the gradle plugin in terms of usability.
To recap: at the moment gradle plugin is a safest bet but is not as convenient. IDEA plugin is actively developed and young but offers a better usability.
Hope that helps!