It’s hard to ignore the importance of a good IDE when it comes to programming. A good choice can greatly enhance the productivity of any programmer. Remember the choice of an IDE is quite subjective and that there’s no such thing as the perfect choice. Also every one of these tools has a learning curve.
Here, we take a look at the various development options for PHP. There’s a lot for the community out there beyond gedit and Notepad.
While not an IDE, jEdit ‘the mature programmer’s editor’ can be a great choice, given the range of features it provides. It’s open-source, and surprisingly light-weight compared to mainstream editors like Eclipse or Netbeans.
A number of plugins are available to enhance jEdit’s functionality. It provides syntax highlighting for more than 200 languages, according to it’s website. One can interact with the shell from inside the editor itself.
An IDE that some would swear by, phpDesigner offers built-in support for SQL, Perl, Python and more. Code completion, hinting, beautification, single-click comments, statement templates, php heredoc support, support for php 4 are some of its enticing features. Debugging becomes a whole lot easier with Xdebug. It’s only available for Windows though and is not free, although it offers a trial version.
Eclipse fans can transition to PHP by using PDT, downloadable from inside Eclipse itself. Apart from all the cool generic features of Eclipse, it offers Xdebug and Zend Debugger support for debugging.
Once past the learning phase, Aptana aptly rewards programmers with it’s pace. It integrates very well with Subversion, plugin installation is smooth and file search is amazingly quick.
Geany is a small, lightweight and cute editor with many IDE-ish features. It supports standard features like code folding, syntax highlighting, code navigation, closing of html tags and the like.
Zend competes with the other IDEs in that it too offers syntax highlighting, code
completion and the like. Where it wins is in offering debug support live on a web server while browsing, in addition to, with a standalone PHP interpreter.
Delphi for PHP
Delphi for PHP (now RadPHP 3.0) has won praise from the community for its smooth interfacing. It offers a designer, support for frameworks such as Zend, drag and drop utility and a neat GUI editor.