PHP IDEs compared!

I’ve talked with many PHP programmers, and one thing that surprises me most is how few use IDEs. Most use text editors, such as Notepad++, dreamweaver.

The text editors I mentioned (and others I didn’t) are great — I don’t want to start a pointless war over which editor is better. However, I have ranked them.

1. Codelobster PHP Edition

Codelobster PHP Edition streamlines and simplifies php development process. You don’t need to keep in mind names of functions, arguments, tags and their attributes; methods etc – we’ve implemented it for you in the autocomplete feature for PHP, HTML, JavaScript and even CSS. Also, you can always get necessary help information by F1 or using special Help control.

Internal free PHP Debugger allows validating code locally. It automatically detects your current server settings and configures corresponding files in order you can use the Debugger.

Supported CMS: Drupal CMS  Joomla CMS  WordPress Blogging Platform

Supported Frameworks: Symfony framework  CakePHP framework  CodeIgniter framework  FaceBook Social Network  Yii framework Smarty Template Engine

Supported JavaScript Libraries: JQuery library

2. PHP Storm

PhpStorm is a lightweight and smart PHP IDE focused on developer productivity that deeply understands your code, provides smart code completion, quick navigation and on-the-fly error checking. It is always ready to help you shape your code, run unit-tests or provide visual debugging.

PHP code completion
PHP refactoring
Smarty and PHPDoc support
Quick navigation
Language mixing (JS/SQL/XML etc.)

3. Net Beans

The NetBeans project offers a version of the IDE tailor-made for developing PHP web sites that comprise a variety of scripting and mark-up languages. The PHP editor is dynamically integrated with HTML, JavaScript and CSS editing features.

Focus on the code and speed up code scanning by excluding individual directories in the Project properties. The NetBeans IDE fully supports iterative development, so testing PHP projects follows the classic patterns familiar to web developers.

The Main features:

PHP Files Without Projects
Rename Refactoring and Instant Rename
PhpDocumentor Support
Zend and Symfony Framework
PHP Source Code Editor
Namespace and Variable Types
Easy Code Navigation
Code Coverage
PHP Unit Testing
Remote and Local Project Development
PHP Debugging
MySQL Integration

4. Eclips

Two plug-ins support PHP in the Eclipse development platform. The first, PHP IDE Project, is an Eclipse Foundation project, which means it is released under the Eclipse license and is developed using the Eclipse Foundation’s tools and processes.

The other is PHPEclipse and is developed independently. As with Eclipse, both run on the Big Three operating systems: Windows, Linux®, and Mac OS X. You can download just the plug-ins (if you already use Eclipse), or download a pre-fab version with everything you need.

Both plug-ins support core IDE features you would expect to find. The code intelligence is rock-solid, pops up when you want it, and displays all the information you need for classes, methods, and arguments.

Figure 1 shows PHPEclipse running on Mac OS X. On the left side is the project view with the files in the project. Below that is the class view, which shows any classes I’ve defined. In the center is my code. I can have multiple files open in multiple tabs simultaneously. On the right side are panels for debugging and browsing. This is the stock PHPEclipse user interface.

5. Komodo

Next up is ActiveState’s Komodo IDE. This IDE runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and it supports the usual open source language suspects — Perl, PHP, and Ruby. The code intelligence engine is solid. It scans all your language installations to find custom extensions, such as PEAR modules. On the project side, it supports integration with CVS, Subversion, and Perforce, as well as allowing for direct FTP transfer of code to the server.

Figure 3 shows Komodo running on Windows. A class view is on the left, and the project view is on the right. Dominating the center is the tabbed code view. To the bottom are the breakpoints for the debugger, the command output, and so on. As with all these systems, you can significantly customize the UI to match your preferences.

6. PHP Designer

PHP Designer takes a different tack from the other IDEs. Sure, it supports limited code intelligence. However, its focus is on further enabling the design aspect of the PHP Web application. This is evidenced by its integrated browser being adorned with pixel rulers to help in positioning elements on the page.

  • PHP code completion
  • PHP refactoring
  • Smarty and PHPDoc support
  • Quick navigation
  • Language mixing (JS/SQL/XML etc.)
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