A development environment makes it convenient and efficient to develop. We show you our favorites for PHP development.
It is absolutely possible to start PHP programming with a simple text editor like Notepad and co. However, it is more convenient to use a feature-rich and complete development environment (IDE) such as Zend Studio, NetBeans, Eclipse PHP Development Tools, PhpStorm or Sublime Text, especially when it comes to professional web development. Here you can find out why and what advantages and disadvantages are associated with it. A good IDE contains many useful functions that enable fast development and effective PHP programming. There are many cross-platform IDEs that are supported on Windows, Linux and Mac. Some can be downloaded for free, others are commercial products. Here is a brief overview of the 5 best development environments (IDEs) for PHP:
What is Zend Studio?
Zend Studio is an excellent commercial PHP IDE developed by the American software house Zend Technology. The development environment is aimed at professional web developers.
Features of Zend Studio
Zend Studio is supported by Windows, OS X and Linux and works with the latest PHP versions, including PHP 7. The IDE has an intuitive interface and provides most of the modern features and tools that help speed up PHP and web development in general. An interesting and powerful feature of Zend Studio is the support for mobile app development in addition to existing PHP apps and the server backend.
Advantages and disadvantages of Zend Studio
The advantages of Zend Studio include:
- Faster performance when validating, indexing and searching PHP code.
- Debugging with Zend Debugger, Xdebug and integration with Z-Ray.
- Support for the Eclipse Plugins ecosystem.
- Docker and Git Flow support.
- Cloud support for Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
- Support for PHP 7 Express migration and seamless integration with the Zend Server.
- Complex and difficult to learn
- Not backward-compatible with its own previous version
- A little slow
What is the NetBeans PHP version?
NetBeans is the PHP IDE that is most suitable for beginners. The development environment is feature-rich, free and supports multiple languages. The free version of NetBeans dates back to 2010. Since its release, NetBeans has been downloaded more than 18 million times. The IDE has one of the largest community of developers who continue to develop the integrated open source development environment.
Features of the NetBeans PHP version
The current stable version of NetBeans is lightweight, very fast and supports everything PHP needs. The software also works with other PHP frameworks such as Zend, Doctrine, Smarty, WordPress CMS and Symfony2.
Advantages and disadvantages of the NetBeans PHP version
The advantages of NetBeans PHP version include:
- Integration with app servers or web containers (Glassfish by default).
- Integration of control version systems.
- Automatic deployment of your application and debugging.
- many plug-ins that are often not needed.
- low adaptability, unnecessary plug-ins cannot be uninstalled.
- The debugger is very slow compared to IntelliJ or Eclipse.
What is Eclipse PHP Development Tools?
Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools) is another open source option available for free. Eclipse has a huge community of developers working on all kinds of plug-ins to equip Eclipse with features that other IDEs like Storms PHP, NetBeans and Zend Studio offer. The Eclipse package for PHP developers provides PHP language support, XML editor, Git client and the Mylyn user interface. The download is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.
Features of the Eclipse PHP Development Tools
Some of the main features are syntax highlighting, code support, code formatting, refactoring, code templates, code navigation, PHP debugging, syntax validation, and an Eclipse ecosystem with a huge community providing support. Eclipse PHP Development Tools is suitable for beginners because there is no license fee to pay. The wide range of plugins available for Eclipse make it a valuable tool for Java, web development, UML modeling and more.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Eclipse PHP Development Tools
The Eclipse PHP Development Tools offer the following advantages:
- free to use
- fast and safe development
- active community
What is PhpStorm?
PhpStorm is a commercial IDE for PHP and has the most modern features that allow fast web development. The IDE is developed and marketed by the company JetBrains. One of the most popular companies in the developer tools market, JetBrains has been making programming easier and more enjoyable for developers for 15 years.
The IDE keeps up with the latest trends in PHP and web languages and contains a variety of modern tools and is individually extensible. PhpStorm is very popular. Major brands such as Expedia, Yahoo, Cisco, Salesforce and Wikipedia have purchased PhpStorm IDE licenses in the past. A trial version can be tried for free for 30 days.
Features of PhpStorm
Advantages and disadvantages of PhpStorm
PhpStorm offers the following advantages:
- Automatic generation of helper functions such as autocomplete and tooltips from the PHPDoc comments of a project.
- Easy configuration of popular PHP debugging tools that work even when running in a virtual machine.
- Simple plugin and template formats that allow centrally managed teams to easily customize the environment.
- Loading large code files can be slow in PhpStorm, especially if there has not yet been time to parse and cache all metadata.
What is Sublime Text?
Sublime Text is a powerful text editor and PHP IDE. It is lightweight, feature-rich and supported by Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. The functionality of the Sublime text editor can be extended and adapted via plug-ins. In practice, there are many PHP plug-ins that help turn Sublime Text into an elegant PHP development environment. These include, for example, a package control, Sublime PHP Companion, xDebug client CodeBug, PHPCS, CodIntel, Simple PHPUnit and PHPDoc.
Characteristics of Sublime Text
Sublime Text consists of custom components and offers very good responsiveness. Projects in Sublime Text capture the entire contents of the workspace, including modified and unsaved files. Sublime Text uses a custom UI toolkit optimized for speed and beauty that leverages native functionality on any platform. The editor is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. Users only need one license to use Sublime Text on each computer.
Advantages and disadvantages of Sublime Text
- convenient editing of PHP code
- easy to navigate
- Functionality can be extended
- multi-line processing is possible
- many plug-ins available
- no open source
- some plug-ins are faulty
- large files are loaded slowly (Windows)
- not a complete IDE
Conclusion: Developing PHP with IDE much more efficiently
PHP is the most popular and comprehensive programming language for developing websites. The task of a PHP IDE is to accelerate web development with manageable and scalable code. The PHP IDEs presented here offer a very good approach for efficient PHP programming, almost all of them are available in different variants. It is important to take a close look at the selection and select the IDE that best meets the individual requirements.