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PHP Programming

Eight PHP IDEs Compared 206

Posted by timothy
from the colonic-extraction dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Rick Grehen provides an in-depth comparative review of eight PHP IDEs: ActiveState's Komodo IDE, CodeLobster PHP Edition, Eclipse PHP Development Tools (PDT), MPSoftware's phpDesigner, NetBeans IDE for PHP, NuSphere's PhpED, WaterProof's PHPEdit, and Zend Studio. 'All of these PHP toolkits offer strong support for the other languages and environments (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL database) that a PHP developer encounters. The key differences we discovered were in the tools they provide (HTML inspector, SQL management system) for various tasks, the quality of their documentation, and general ease-of-use,' Grehen writes.'"
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Eight PHP IDEs Compared

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  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:40AM (#31010350) Homepage Journal

    This is not a troll, I swear! Are there any good performance assessment tools used during development? If so, do they work well with any of these IDEs? I don't do a lot of PHP work but it would be nice to have a tool that could audit code, advise on which lines were the most resource-intensive, and recommend lighter weight procedures.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by tarius8105 (683929)
      I personally use Netbeans. I dont like eclipse too much, I think its a little more bloated for my needs, but others swear by it. Netbeans just has a lot of the features out of the box where as eclipse you have to download everything and install it but on the other hand eclipse can have more features and plugins than Netbeans. It boils down to what you need. The only concern I have with Netbeans, prior to 6.8, was that after long periods of time running I would notice it was leaking memory and started to slo
      • I think I went off on something else instead of addressing the point, but if I remember there are profilers out there both eclipse and netbeans to show where the script is spending most of its time. I think with Netbeans it uses the PHP debugger but there is also another that you can build right into PHP.
      • by moexu (555075)
        I used to use Eclipse when I was primarily doing Java development with a little bit of PHP support but now that I've changed jobs and almost exclusively work in PHP I use NetBeans. PHP support seems to be a lot better integrated and debugging was easy to get working. The only real issue I have with NetBeans is that it doesn't support as many languages - I occasionally need to work in Perl and it's pretty weak for that.

        I'm concerned that with Oracle purchasing Sun and having their own IDE that Oracle will
        • by sopssa (1498795) *

          I was also surprised that so many of these tools are Windows-only since PHP is usually the P in LAMP.

          Well LAMP refers to servers. Not that there wouldn't be any Linux IDE's or developers, but Windows still dominates on desktop. I also do development and coding on Windows, but work on remote files hosted on Linux server, and don't even try to make the code to support Windows as Linux dominates so much on servers.

      • Make sure you get the PHP only version of Netbeans if you're concerned with speed.

        Eclipse does have more plugins but it's just not as nice. Netbeans pretty much does everything I want. There are extra plug-ins in the plugins menu and project Kenai had some decent plugins. Shame its getting the axe but hopefully it won't be too hard to find the plugins again as they move to other sites.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IpSo_ (21711)

      Have you tried using PHP's Xdebug extension with CacheGrind (I prefer KCacheGrind for KDE), it works wonders.

      I haven't found any IDE's that integrate such functionality, but I don't really see a need for it as KCacheGrind works so well as it is.

    • For web apps (PHP), the most resource-intensive lines are those that hit the database. How fast they are depends on what's in the database.

      What you ask is not possible for an IDE to do.

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        Actually that might include the database queries and such too, as he specifically said what lines are most resource-intensive and such. Xdebug is the answer here and I think most IDE's support it, either directly or via hack-it-in. Now it doesn't provide lighter weight hints (that's your job as a programmer), but it shows you a lot of information about the bottlenecks.

      • by kv9 (697238)
        Most of these IDEs integrate with some sort of debugger AFAIK. I have tried them all but none can beat the simplicity of EditPlus (on Windows at least).
      • by Davorama (11731)

        True, but if you are optimizing, you've already gone past that and most of the time everything is coming out of memcache or some such thing. Now you want to profile the rest of your app.

    • But... but... optimizing performance in PHP, is like optimizing performance on a tricycle with four-wheel drive and square wheels. ^^
      The best optimization for PHP: Move to a real language! ;)

      (Ex 5-year professional PHP developer here, who actually managed to write properly designed software in it, and therefore knows extremely well what PHP is and can’t do.)

      • by Fozzyuw (950608)

        What's a "real language" compared to PHP?

        JSP, ASP, Python, Perl?

        And by 'real language' do you something that's pre-compiled? Something with variable declarations (not loosly typed), etc?

        I'm curious to learn. I'm a PHP web developer.

        • I'm not trying to demote PHP (I used it a lot of time some years ago and I think is a very good tool for some specific situations.) At least to me, the (oversimplified) "real language" phrase of GP is related to the bad design or simply no design emphasis from the basic documents, tutorials and the PHP community as a whole. Of course it is not very visible until you check the "hot topics" discussed in other languages' communities. I think for example in the OO/design patterns things, connection pooling stra

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        You probably didn't work with large enough projects then. You do know optimization is a bit more than making a script that tests whether print() or echo() works faster?

        First of all you need to know what are the bottlenecks on the script, and this includes SQL queries and working with data or files, or remote connections. You work to optimize those queries first. If you still need to go further, you start putting some data in memcache so you don't need to always run the same queries. Knowing what queries are

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kestasjk (933987) *
      You need to use Xdebug (you could use Zend's commercial platform software, but that's expensive and you don't need it). You activate it, and it'll log all sessions to profile data files if you configure it to. Then you download "WinCacheGrind" or something, which will open these profile data files for analysis.

      However WinCacheGrind is an old piece of software that hasn't got new features for a long time. It does the job, but it's not great. It's a clone of a more advanced KDE application which does the s
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:42AM (#31010368)

    How is it that when given a set of options, the majority of users will select the worst possible one?

    They didn't review Notepad, but I would wager that it is pretty well used by a majority of PHP "developers"

    • by Xest (935314)

      Because consumers aren't always given an equal choice.

      Look at the HD wars, Bluray won, not because it was the better format for the consumer per-se, but because it gained a large lead by being included in the PS3, and ultimately because the studios all decided to back it as it had stronger DRM.

      HD-DVD kit was cheaper, region free, and had less troublesome DRM as well as dual DVD/HD-DVD discs actually on the market, I suspect all things being equal these factors alone would've made it the consumer choice othe

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Bluray didn't win.

        I won, because I stopped buying DVDs, and now pirate 100% of my films.

    • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:14AM (#31010910) Homepage Journal

      as if php is not something worth developing on or those who develop on it cannot be called real developers.

      i am working in the industry since 2003 as a php developer and i use notepad++. it works very well too.

      • by duguk (589689)

        as if php is not something worth developing on or those who develop on it cannot be called real developers.

        i am working in the industry since 2003 as a php developer and i use notepad++. it works very well too.

        I have to agree with this. Notepad++ is feature rich, especially for PHP users, especially with the many many plugins. Just having syntax highlighting and completion is enough. Most of these IDE's are overkill.

        • If you need something very similar (though, sadly, with fewer plugins) in Linux and don't want to use Wine, I recommend Geany.

        • I use VIM when necessary and only when necessary. Because I don't try to prove my manliness by using the most basic featureless software. I rather prove my worth in the code I create rather than the tool I use.

          I do often use Notepad++ myself and yes it has plugins. Plugins that aren't always updated that often and break between versions and it requires using Wine if you want to use it in Linux. If you're going to build onto Notepad++ you might as well go for a full IDE or at least go for something like V
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kestasjk (933987) *
        I use notepad++ for text files etc but it's not an IDE, is it? Does it have debugging, project management, variable tracking, object/namespace browsing and auto-completion? You're wasting your own time if you don't use a good IDE.
        • by unity100 (970058)

          you can insert most of the functions you speak of through plugins. thats the good part. you can put in what you need, and not what someone packaged. prevents bloating.

      • You also use some kind of decent version control.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      That's what I use... or gedit in lunix or vim(m) when ssh'ing
    • Which explains why PHP often looks so fucking ugly.
  • DevPHP is AFAIK open source and works pretty well for me.
    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:07AM (#31010784)

      Yeah, they also gave Zend 9/10 for tools and 10/10 for Value when it's basically just Eclipse PDT with a toolbar button for the command line tool that comes free with the Zend framework and costs $399 per year for the privilege.

      Well, I suppose it can do more if you pay an extra $1195 per year for Zend server. Did I mention that Zend server is basically little more than just a pre-configured Apache setup?

      Perhaps I've been spoilt by Visual Studio which actually costs much less and gives you far more, or the fact that 99.99% of Zend Studio's functionality is just inherited from Eclipse which is free, but the idea of giving Zend Studio 10/10 for value is er, baffling to say the least- at least their 9/10 for tools can be somewhat justified by the fact most of them are just inherited from the free tools Eclipse provides.

      I suppose at least they still gave positive reviews of the other IDEs, but the idea that Zend Studio is somehow better than them, well, I'm not really sure there's a word for how simply not true that is.

      So er yeah, still, most the article is probably one of the finest loads of bollocks I've ever seen which is quite impressive, sseing as I've often made the mistake of reading The Register which is basically like a bollocks farm.

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        I'm still trying to figure out the 'value' column and what it could possibly mean. It's not the average, since that's to the right already. It's not the mmph per dollar, since that would infinity for some of them... It's not even a personal opinion, considering that Eclipse/PDT and Zend got exactly the same value, even though 1 is free and the other is not.

        I've been forced to come to the conclusion that it means 'we were paid to make this come out better.'

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kestasjk (933987) *
        I support Zend in their quest to get money, because it lets them create great things like the Zend Framework (which is free). Those are business guy prices, for busy/lazy/rich IT staff who don't even want to configure Apache or set up debugging in Eclipse with Xdebug.

        Want debugging? Eclipse and Xdebug, you can even get Zend's own debugging system by downloading their shared object file which is free. Same goes for profiling, auto-completion, etc, you can get it yourself with a bit of work if you don't wa
  • yep (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:43AM (#31010398) Homepage Journal

    Two of the top choices are free and open. I don't know how people who build proprietary tools are going to stay in business. It's not like the commercial stuff crushed the open stuff in this comparison. I've moved to Netbeans for pretty much everything. It's a solid, multiplatform solution and the open nature is very nice. Komodo is built on an open editor, but moving up to the full featured IDE is pretty pricey. At $399 a pop I've never tried Zend Studio and based on this - I don't think I'm missing much.

    • Re:yep (Score:4, Informative)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:24AM (#31011086) Journal

      Personally I wasn't really happy with Eclipse or other open source solutions. The GUI plain and simply sucks, isn't that good to customize and provides too less information and actions. People say its a powerful tool once you learn to use it, but why should I spend time on that when there are better alternatives (and which provide more features)?

      Personally I've tried pretty much all of the IDE's mentioned in this article and finally went and bought WaterProof's PHPEdit. In my opinion, it's the most comprehensive PHP IDE there is.
      - Debugging options are *great* (like comparing vi to Visual Studio)
      - GUI shows lots of information, but doesn't bloat it - panels roll in and out when they're needed (if wanted)
      - GUI is totally customizable, there's scripting language to do it too. One of the first options I did was change ctrl+s to save local version, save cvs version and publish testing machine version, but not publish on live site, all on press of ctrl+s. On toolbar I added a separate button to publish the new version on live site.
      - Another point about the great debugging options that the article mentions too, you can simultaneously debug PHP and Javascript. This is something you really miss in other IDE's once you've tried it.
      - PHP files usually have mixed PHP, HTML, JavaScript and SQL. Once you move your cursor over a single block, it highlights and colors with the correct language and makes the other languages a little bit more transparent - you can easily see for example all blocks of JavaScript or SQL code.
      - Preview lets you view what your site looks on all IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera
      - Too many other features to list which I think should be in all IDE's, but are not :) And haven't even got around to learning all things yet.

      Now that being said, it is probably too heavy for a PHP coder that isn't coding professionally. Many amateur C++ programmers go just with Dev-C++ too, but professionals and those coding for living almost always appreciate the powerful suite that Visual Studio is. Proprietary tools stay in business because of this - they're much more polished and complete than their open source alternatives. And if you're working on it professionally, paying for the good tools doesn't really matter that much if it saves you time and from headache.

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        If I'm going to use an IDE for web development, I only have one question: Can it work over ssh? My test server is sitting in a rack somewhere else, never mind the production server.

        • by rycamor (194164)

          Agreed. I'm not much for IDEs, but for text editors my two favorite choices are

          Windows:
          - UltraEdit (very nice SSH/SFTP integration)

          Linux:
          - Kate (KDE Advanced Text Editor) using KDE's fish://user@server/path/to protocol

          Also, both support column-mode editing, which is my other non-negotiable.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          That's not your only solution. If your web server's OS supports the IDE, you're all set. If the server runs Windows, you can access it via Remote Desktop. If it runs Linux, then you just have to point the DISPLAY variable at your local machine.

      • At least the price isn't too crazy. But you are right, I'd need to be doing full time professional work to move away from Netbeans.

        And even then I still might not do it, as Netbeans supports so many languages and platforms. If I were working all the time in one language I could see an IDE focused on that language. But the reality is that day to day I'm dealing with a multitude of languages and platforms.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bl8n8r (649187)

        > it's the most comprehensive PHP IDE there is.

        Perhaps. If you run windows. The lack of cross platform options is a massive fail IMO.

      • by kestasjk (933987) *
        All that stuff also applies to Eclipse, but the advantage Eclipse has is that if I want to switch over to C development with OpenGL no problem (with a gdb-shell debugging), if I want to work on a large perl/SQLite script I can (with debugging), same for python, etc. The only other IDE you need is Visual Studio for writing .NET apps, no need to have an IDE for PHP which can't be used for anything else.
      • After going around the block a few times I've had to come to the conclusion that GUIs can suck and so long as the application is robust enough to suit my needs. This is fine. Work flow is the real deal breaker. To cite a popular example, you have Blender and Gimp. Both have UIs that are far from friendly to the user, but once you get around the mountain of key commands and oddly placed boxes, Blender is a perfectly fine program, while Gimp still feels like a box of tangled yarn. Eclipse is a similar situati

    • Zend is just Eclipse with some plugin functionality you can get elsewhere (or from Zend themselves) so two of the top options are basically one because I think you'd have to be really stupid to pay $400 for Eclipse.
  • What I would like for an IDE is something similar to VB, where you can actually run the PHP, set break points, watch variable values, etc.

    Since that doesn't exist as far as I know, I guess I will keep running a local instance of apache, php, mysql, etc. and throwing in lots of extra print("\n\n") statements

  • Eclipse PDT? (Score:5, Informative)

    by KermodeBear (738243) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:49AM (#31010480) Homepage

    Eclipse PHP Development Tools 2.1.2 received an overall score of 8.8. I'm not sure why. I have tried this on several occasions and I find the interface confusing, the software itself bloated and slow, and the internal plugin manager is always broken and can't download dependencies correctly - if at all.

    Sure, there are posts all over the place that are supposed to help fix these issues: Download X from Y, and A from B, and then modify this configuration, and, and, and... ...and I shouldn't have to. It should 'just work'. I spent half a day trying to get the SFTP plugin installed and working and I gave up. I don't have time for that.

    My personal favorite, as far as 'large' IDEs go, is Zend Studio - the last version before they moved over onto the Eclipse Framework.

    • The old Zend Studio was great for debugging, but it suffered from the closed platform that you were locked into the feature sets provided. They moved over to eclipse to leverage the framework without having to do as much work for the IDE, the issue was they were suffering from lack of plugins that people wanted.
    • I gotta agree ZS was great. I have tried the Eclipse Framework version and hate it. I still have my ZS installed but had to switch to Netbeans, as a result of upgrading to Leopard on my iMac (After the upgrade, I no longer see highlighted text and thats a pain when coding. The moment I select it, its white on white). Until i figure a way to fix that, I am using Netbeans, which is okay but not as nice overall. ZendStudio really was worth the money I paid for it, too bad they don't update it.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      I agree with you, Eclipse is too much work. I want to work with my PHP code, not the IDE. Personally I use Waterproof's PHPEdit and love it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ionix5891 (1228718)

      same here im still on Zend 5.5

      new Zend based on Eclipse and Eclipse PDT and Netbeans are just to "slow" and i have a nice workstation

    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      It is all workable, once you get Eclipse working it'll work from that point on. I wrote a guide [kuliukas.com] on setting up debugging, it took a while but once you've done it once you're set, and you're not out by $xxx dollars per year.
    • Eclipse in general is pretty rubbish and lacks and professional shine even for an open source product, imo. But it will be popular because using something that's broken to code makes you a better coder apparently.
  • Coda (Score:3, Interesting)

    by acomj (20611) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:50AM (#31010502) Homepage

    I use panic software's CODA for my php development (OSX). Its not really as full featured as these (no debugger), but for the fairly basic php web sites I code, it works great. I like that you can click a tab and snap into the page your creating in a functional browser. I use YourSQL for MYSQL database management, which still works but is no longer being developed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) *

      You might want to look at MySQL Workbench [mysql.com]. I've been messing with it a bit for a couple weeks and really like it so far. I'm running it on Fedora but there is an OSX release.

  • I usually use eclipse PDT on windows, but it doesn't scale well with really big projects (anything base on ez publish [ez.no], a CMS often used in the company I work for): the code completion system becomes a nightmare, as everytime I begin typing a function name it freezes several seconds as if parsing every file on the hard drive to find if it already exists somewhere.
    I tried netbeans, and the problem is the same. I end up with and IDE where the only features I use are syntax coloring, functions folding, and file

  • by TofuMatt (1105351) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:12AM (#31010842) Homepage

    Aside from using XCode, I pretty much never use IDEs, especially for web development. I just use TextMate [macromates.com] for anything not in XCode (and I even edit a lot of C/C++/Obj-C in XCode nowadays, and other apps for performance, testing, etc. (or write TextMate commands to run external commands).

    • by TofuMatt (1105351)

      I very rarely use XCode, and only use it when developing Mac/iPhone stuff. Largely because of Interface Builder, all that sort of stuff -- using XCode makes sense then. But I write big projects in OO PHP, Ruby, etc., and use TextMate projects for all of it.

      I should have said that while I do use XCode, I don't spend most of my time in it even when I do, and don't think I take too much advantage of its IDE-ness. Maybe I just suck at using IDEs?

  • vim/EMACS? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Canar (46407)

    I know this is PHP, so it might be expecting too much, but what ever happened to using vi?

    I'm a semi-pro (all told I've probably made nearly $100k) web developer and I've never felt the need for all these fancy IDEs. I've tried them before and they just slow me down.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Probably vi/vim thru ssh plus a web browser for testing/googling/docs and shell utilities has been my IDE for perl/php/bash for years (at least if it qualifies at IDE), and emacs would not be a bad alternative neither
    • Vim came out, and vi users switched over?

    • I've tried Komodo and Eclipse. Personally, I didn't find that they gave me anything I didn't get from vim and a few bash terminals, except a lot of annoyance. Intellisense was a pain in the ass. My first task was usually trying to turn it off. (Second was trying to find something decent for vim key bindings.) Some of the code refactoring tools were sort of handy, but not enough to make me put up with everything else. Reggexer works very nicely for most of what I used those for anyway.

      It's been a while, so m

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ant P. (974313)

      It doesn't count as an "IDE" unless the code pane is 120x100px when the window's fullscreen and opening the program requires a splash screen.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Good for you?

      But vi isn't an IDE, and this article is about IDEs... so... off-topic. Tell you what, when there's an article about which text editor is best for PHP, then you can post this same thread and it'll be on-topic! Amazing how that works.

  • My new projects are in Flex and/or php so I stay with Eclipse to save my sanity. I still have to use Delphi for maintenance work on older projects so having to keep 3 IDEs in my tiny little brain at once would be difficult for me. Even so, I'm hitting F2 in Delphi to save. Grrr.
  • by ianare (1132971)

    The ratings are pretty silly. How can ZendStudio have a value of 10, while netbeans has 9? Netbeans is free/OSS, ZS is proprietary and $400 !!

  • I write PHP every day and I get by very well with KWrite. KDE let's me seamlessly edit remote files over FTP or SSH and KWrite is lightweight but offers a surprising amount of features. It has some pretty awesome syntax highlighting that changes its color coding between PHP blocks, Javascript, style sheets and HTML with remarkable accuracy.

    I've used Zend Studio (pre-Eclipse) and Eclipse PDT. I like some of the features such as the way they assist with function parameters and the built in PHP documentati
  • I gotta say, after working with Visual Studio for so damn long in C++ and Visual Basic (starting all the way back with VB3), it was only natural for me to use the IDE I'm most familiar with for PHP. Nowadays, there are some pretty damn good add-ons for Visual Studio to help out with the workflow of PHP development. Having SVN integration is another major plus for VS. I will honestly admit I've tried to tinker with other IDE sollutions, but its just a mental pain in the ass to convert yourself over after

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