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The Best PHP IDEs out there

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.

jEdit

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.

JetBrains PhpStorm

PhpStorm is a popular choice among PHP programmers. The tool features smart code completion and analysis, which has won great reviews. It also packs in a handy HTML/CSS/JavaScript editor, and integrates well with the popular revision control systems. A major turn-off is that it doesn’t come for free.

NetBeans

A traditional favourite among programmers, NetBeans provides robust support for PHP as well. It supports the popular web frameworks Zend and Symfony, integrates with SVN, CVS, git and the PHP editor is dynamically integrated with it’s friends HTML/CSS/JavaScript. It also offers a neat debugger for PHP, Xdebug.

phpDesigner

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 PDT

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.

ActiveState Komodo

Komodo is a mature proprietary product aimed at the PHP audience. It impresses with it’s HTTP inspector, JavaScript debugger and Regular Expression Toolkit. It’s possible to view not just PHP, but running JavaScript and HTTP traffic as well through Komodo. Komodo also comes in free (Komodo Edit) and open (OpenKomodo) flavors.

Aptana

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

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 Studio

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.

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