I think the first “IDE” I ever used for web development would have to be Adobe Dreamweaver (née Macromedia). Ok, so maybe it was Microsoft FrontPage, but that shouldn’t really count. Dreamweaver for the novice held the promise of being able to easily create DHTML animations and offered WYSIWYG perfection for creating web interactive pages. All of the deployment you needed was built in (FTP) and you did get some sense that it was the best product on the market for doing web work (in fact it still might be for your average designer). This post is about my experience moving away from the oft-maligned program and some lessons learned in my quest for the perfect IDE.

Ignorance is Bliss

I wrote a ton of PHP code in Dreamweaver. In fact, I learned PHP while using Dreamweaver to edit joomla templates back when I was a “website manager”. I went on to write thousands of lines of code in Dreamweaver for about a year into my programming journey. Eventually though, I started to feel like I was missing out on something. I decided to search for dedicated PHP development software and realized were at least 10 IDE programs available for PHP and clearly Dreamweaver was not among them. I decided then and there that I needed to move forward and ditch my old reliable Dreamweaver.

As a novice, it was an overwhelming experience even trying to pick an IDE. I was writing a large website with CakePHP at the time and figured that I would look around and see what others in that community were using. For the record, candidates included: Komodo, NetBeans, Eclipse PDT, Zend Studio, PHPStorm and a few more. I downloaded a few different programs and had a difficult time evaluating them because after all, how would a beginner know what made for a good IDE? Additionally, some of these programs cost money and I did not have a penny to spare in those days. So it had to be free.

NoobBeans

I settled on NetBeans initially. I had heard of this nifty feature called “code-completion” and some people said that you could use it to auto-complete model class relationships and methods for CakePHP. I had mixed results with that, but in time code-completion in general was quickly becoming something that I could not live without. NetBeans also had built-in FTP and SVN integration. That was neat, especially since I had begun using version control with TortoiseSVN recently (it seemed important to learn). Eventually I found the auto-format code button, and realized my coding style was pretty sloppy compared to the corrections it was making.

I gave NetBeans a daily workout for a good year or two, but then I decided wanted to make mobile apps for a living. After learning that I needed a mac to make iPhone applications, I decided that I would have to start out with android. Of course this required me to learn Java, and also introduced me to Eclipse. Once I started using Eclipse in a Java context, I was starting to feel that net beans was lacking a ton of configuration options that eclipse offered. So I downloaded Eclipse PDT, which is basically a free version of Zend Studio. Now I felt powerful.

The 7th Circle of Hell is called Eclipse

When I started at a new company, I was assigned a pretty low spec machine to do PHP development work on. The codebase I was working on was also massive. Eclipse couldn’t keep up. Things were always building, indexing or validating! I could count on Eclipse crashing at least five times a day. Eventually I began fighting back by disabling validators and automatic project building. I was turning off feature after feature and started to long for the good old days of Dreamweaver.

Once my workstation was upgraded to an HP Intel i7 with 12 gigs of ram, most of my crashing problems started to go away. I also tried several favors of eclipse like Aptana, and finally ended up using Zend Studio on a trial basis. Zend Studio seemed at least a little bit better than Eclipse PDT, because it had refactoring features and a more advanced formatter amongst other things not included with PDT. I found zend studio to be a bit more stable, but ultimately the refactoring featurs never seemed to work for me, and the code formatter was just crappy. Now I found myself spending more time using the backspace, enter and delete keys to correct sends formatting wonkyness than actually coding. That is hyperbole, but I was starting to see why all the Ruby guys used Textmate or vim.

It’s just a glorified text editor

I hate vim, and I’m not on a mac so textmate is out. So along comes Sublime Text 2. I started using Sublime Text casually on some of my hobby projects and I started to understand why people preferred a lighter text editor. Sometimes I just felt like the editor was reading mind and I never had performance issues. Still as much as I enjoy Sublime Text, I didn’t find that it gave me a productivity advantage overall. I personally don’t want to hop around my computer for different tools to get my code tested and deployed, which I don’t do as often with an IDE. Additionally, the speed of searching for code in my IDE is lightning fast and I could never achieve those results with a text editor.

So I was stuck with Zend Studio and i was afraid. I knew I was one corrupt workspace away from disaster. But it wasn’t all bad. I had a few macros, a few useful plugins and my workflow was sufficiently fast. I could live with this. Things went along fine for months, until I went to a meetup of the South Florida Php Users Group. There I was introduced to PHPStorm. Just another IDE I thought to myself, as I debated the merits of switching from Eclipse. I was so damn wrong.

Salvation is a (PHP)Storm

I tried out PHPStorm for a free 30 day trial. Several ex-eclipse users can be wrong right? Besides I had some side projects to hack on and eclipse was borked on my laptop. Once up and running, PHPStorm made me a quick convert. Everything just worked better. The code completion was faster and more accurate, the settings easier to manage. Unlike Eclipse PDT, Zend Studio or Aptana, it didn’t feel like someone had grafted to php support onto a IDE written for programming in Java – although I’m sure PHPStorm is entirely based on IntelliJ IDEA.

Features starting popping up all the time that would pleasantly surprise me: Zen Coding support, inline string language injection, doc block validation and more. PHPStorm had all of the stuff Zend Studio gave me, but is mostly better implemented. Stability is also vey good, as I haven’t seen a crash yet in two months. My i5 laptop did have a bit of sluggishness on a really large project, but I tweaked a few settings and everything seemed reasonably fast again. I still run in to some annoyances with the code formatter and some incorrect code syntax warnings, but therein lies another lesson. I don’t think an IDE or any tool for that matter is free of blemishes.

Always end on a Cliché

Overall I think I will stick it out with PHPStorm for awhile. Looking back I realize that IDE’s have been a constant annoyance and yet have prompted so much growth and development in my skill level. I just plain work faster and write better code with an IDE. I also think that the problems I have ran into with IDE’s are true about software in general. We search for better solutions and always fall short.

I am reminded of a famous quote:

Perfect is the enemy of goodVoltaire

The reality is that I could probably still get a lot done in Dreamweaver, but it is the journey on the quest for improvement that can help us truly master our craft.

  • Matthew Fletcher

    I’d be interested to see what you made of Komodo. It’s become my IDE of choice lately. The free editor is pretty good these days.

    • j_blotus

      Thanks for reading. I honestly didn’t give Komodo more than a few hours of time, although I’m sure that I might approach it from a different perspective now. Are there any features about Komodo that you think make it worthwhile to try? I appreciate your input.

      • Nicolas BUI

        Thank for sharing your thoughs,

        I have test many IDE so far (PHPEd, Komodo, Zend, Vim, TextMate, Sublime, Coda, Espresso, etc..).
        I spend now most of my time, between :
        - PHPStorm: really great for PHP and the most advanced for JavaScript too (you can’t find any better, except WebStorm from the same company)
        - Coda (Okay, I own a Mac)
        - TextMate (a little slow sometime)
        - I’m trying from time to time Brackets et Cloud9 IDE, very nice overall as a a JavaScript base IDE but still miss some power features.

        Best regards 

        • j_blotus

          Well, WebStorm is already part of PHPStorm so that’s a win!

  • Burber

    My experiences of IDEs pretty much mirrors what you’ve written here. I, however, settled on Aptana. It had all core functionality of Eclipse that I actually like to use like autocomplete, but without all the extra unwanted bloat. Can I ask why you did not settle on Aptana?

    • j_blotus

      I really did try to use Aptana for about a month. I couldn’t achieve consistent behavior with Aptana’s code formatter and some of PDT’s formatting rules. I find with Eclipse based IDE’s that the plugins are sometimes fighting with each other for control.

    • j_blotus

      Thanks for reading. I honestly didn’t give Komodo more than a few hours of time, although I’m sure that I might approach it from a different perspective now. Are there any features about Komodo that you think make it worthwhile to try? I appreciate your input.

  • http://twitter.com/benwallis Ben Wallis

    You didn’t even mention the best PHP IDE :)  Personally I like Nusphere PHPEd. I’ve been using it since 2007.

    I’ve tried/tested all of these (most for at least one year) and they weren’t good enough for me:

    Dreamweaver
    Komodo
    UltraEdit
    Zend Studio (5 and 5.5)
    Netbeans
    Eclipse
    Aptana
    PHPDesigner
    PHPStorm

    The main reason I didn’t like Komodo was because it did NOT support multiple screens! I asked the developers about it and they said they MIGHT support it in future (was years ago now).

    • j_blotus

      I think I downloaded PHPEd at one point but didn’t give it a full workout. Any features in particular that make it good for you? Also multi-monitor support is definitely a consideration for any IDE

    • lubosdz

      I can confirm – since last 4 years our team has used NUSphere’s PHPEd with built-in debugger (much faster & powerful than XDebug), code completion on PHP, HTML and javascript, remote secure tunnel debugging…

      PHPStorm is the only comparable & competetive regarding stability, speed & capabilities, but it appeared on scene only very recently. It has some extra features like UML generation, which is nice. However, in my opinion it gives sometime false results, such as code analyze shows that you have lots of errors but in fact it may not be true…

      My top list on PHP IDE:
      ==============

      1. NUSpehere PHPEd
      2. PHPStorm
      3. Zend Studio
      4. Netbeans
      5. PDT
      6. notepad:-))

      regards, lubosdz

      • j_blotus

        Thanks for sharing, these are opinions I think people appreciate.

    • phpednomoe

      I’ve used phped for about 3 years now; overall it’s a pretty solid IDE. the problem i have with phped is the lack of evolution. it really hasn’t changed much in the 3 years we’ve used it (of course all the “required” features that are a result of php changes have been implemented, namespaces, traits etc). But with phped all you are getting with your license is a year or bugfixes, nothing else. Their tech support sucks to say the least. The standard answer is “well you must be retarded, cuz it works just fine for us”. Community is dead, feature requests go into a black hole. Having dealt with all of this we’ve recently checked out PS 5 and we fell in love with it. the amount of features it offers and the pricing ($29 for academic) is hard to pass by. It took me about a day to configure it and customize but once i got it the way i want it it’s amazing. code completion and live templates are incredible. phped still has issues recognizing namespaces in its code completion after about a year of bugfixes… I’ve since exported my settings and shared it with the rest of the devs. none of that bs with backing up nusphere directories and praying that it works. seriously, most important feature that any IDE should have it and phped fails to?

    • andy

      I used PhpEd at work – debugger would not re-install after upgrade and some breakpoints did not work depending on how the code was formatted. Not impressed, luckily I didn’t pay for it. Used Eclipse for awhile for PHP, may be great for Java but what a resource hog. Finally switched back to NetBeans/xDebug with its plethora of free plugins and have never looked back.

  • Blacksonic

    Why is that title if PHPStorm is good for you?

    • j_blotus

      For me the point of the article is that while I like PHPStorm now, no IDE or software will ever truly be perfect. 

  • Tom

     I started coding in 2002 and was using Macromedia Homesite. It has some very useful features, that some IDEs are still missing today.

  • http://twitter.com/bovermyer Ben Overmyer

    Have you tried Microsoft WebMatrix 2? It’s actually a really slick IDE for PHP, among other things.

    • j_blotus

      I know the DotNetters get a lot of their strength from their tools, but I would have to admit that using a Microsoft IDE would give me a bit of a complex. Still, I might need to try it out just to know. THanks for the suggestion!

      • MSguy

        DotNetters who focus on the rapid development of small applications benefit greatly from the tools that Visual Studio provides.  However, for developers at the enterprise level these tools are somewhat useless.  Just give me some intellisense and I’m a happy camper.

  • Jaco Jansen

    Being interested in front-end development as well, I think I’ll give brackets a try one day.

    • j_blotus

      Never heard of it, I guess it falls into the same category as Cloud9

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurin1 Keith Davis

    I’ve been through most of these as well, but PHPStorm is by far the best and has taken my PHP development to a whole new level of enjoyment. I work pretty closely with the developers and they are open to our needs and address issues quickly, most of the time.

    • Andrew Osiname

      Might try PHPStorm as a last attempt to find a good PHP IDE..dont know what ill do when it comes to MVC Framework…

  • Chris De Kok

    I am still with netbeans i think its the best free/open solution :) It still has some annoying code scanning, supposedly that should be better in 7.2 but i still had some problems with it locking my interface. I cannot really understand you find Eclipse more powerfull then Netbeans what features are you missing?

    • j_blotus

      I used netbeans for a while and only switched because I got used to eclipse. I think beans is a fine IDE overall.

      • Ralph Trocchia

        After going from Dreamweaver, to Eclipse, to aptana, to zend studio and finally ending up at netbeans… I can say standards have been changed. What good is a feature blasted IDE if its so bloated, slow, and risky? Great post J …

        • j_blotus

          Glad you enjoyed! Thanks for reading and sharing

  • Keloran

    You should try phpedit it ATM only has 2 major (minor if you don’t need them), drawbacks
    No mac/Linux support
    No GIT support (does have, CVS/SVN)

    • j_blotus

      Those factors alone disqualify it for me

    • erdincgc

      indeed it has git support with plugin

  • odd

    PHPed is the king, and you didn’t even mention it..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stas-Ustimenko/100000400932904 Stas Ustimenko

    I suggest you to look at the Codelobster PHP Edition also – http://www.codelobster.com

    • MagicPanties

      Just started playing with code lobster and am very impressed.

      Debugger worked out of the box and it identified several html, css and php errors (in included files, not just current working file) right off the bat [all of which dreamweaver didn't notice].

      Wow!

  • http://twitter.com/azerdemir azer

    I think as we developers who are coding PHP, the problem is we didn’t start to code with IDEs. We’re able to code with Notepad, or dreamweaver, or a programmer’s text editor. I’m sure there are lots of people here who are using a programmer’s text editor with his/her IDE. 

    Java or .NET developers are dependant to their IDEs strictly, but we’re not. Perhaps it is an advantage but there are some disadvantages as if IDEs on PHP arena (it could be same in other dynamic languages also) can’t make it everything good.

    I also tried lots of IDEs, but still i’m not using debugging on a PHP IDE, since debugging feature came later on. Lots of practices on Java/.NET IDEs are not former features on our IDEs.

    By the way, i wonder why do you hate vim, lots of developer on this dynamic languages arena is talking about its affect to productivity (i know it’s usable if you can configure it :) ).

    • j_blotus

      Excellent observations. I also am not taking advantage of IDE based debugging. As far as my dislike for vim, it’s strictly preference. I don’t currently have enough knowledge to learn all the commands needed to be effective and I haven’t felt a compelling reason to learn it. Obviously vim is an acceptable choice as long as you know what you are doing.

    • Kris

      I can write c# and a bunch of other languages just fine in textmate (and mono) thank you. I just choose to use a proper IDE most of the time because it’s more efficient. Nobody can claim to be a professional whilst not being able to use their language(s) and libraries/frameworks/compilers etc. well enough to be able to use them in a simple text editor. Not without being a laughing stock anyway, it doesn’t matter what language you’re talking about either.

      Steve Krug, quoting his wife, wrote: “If something is hard to use, I just don’t use it as much” (Don’t make me think, page 9 in the 2nd edition). This is exactly why vi is so widely *hated* by IDE users. vi, to any untrained individual, is an enormous collection of usability mistakes. While vim is much improved over vi, it is still an enormous PITA if you haven’t memorised a bookshelf worth of manual. Any text editor that doesn’t let you edit text ***immediately*** (so not only after pressing “i” or somesuch) is going to be hated. It may have been the best half a century ago, but nowadays, any 10 year old with an IDE can build a “better” text editor for 999 out of 1000 people. Even if it’s only by slapping a textarea on an otherwise blank html page.

      vim Isn’t that bad once you get used to it and nor is vi, but it requires the user to think and *that* is less than stellar design and what gets a lot of hate from people.

      • j_blotus

        I think you have brought up a few good points. I would add that making things work in an intuitive or obvious fashion, such being able to enter text right away without “thinking” is a good paradigm. +1 for Steve Krug reference. I personally find that I am more productive using an IDE than a text editor, but I will acknowledge that this isn’t true for everyone.

  • http://twitter.com/pedrasmachado Ricardo Machado

    Great article, congratulations for it.

    Well, I do share your post’s title opinion :D… I haven’t tried them all, but I did try NetBeans, Eclipse, Sublime Text2, Macromedia Dreamweaver (currently from Adobe), Notepad++, Vim, Geany and a couple more…

    I’m currently with Sublime Text 2. Why? Is lighter, faster, the code completion is general (doesn’t get stricted to only variable names, or functions, classes, methods…), has good extensions, it’s not Java based (doesn’t eat 50% of my RAM memory!) and does what is supposed to do!

    Besides, I’m now used to it and love the way it works, I know what to expect from it… That let’s me focus on the development.

    • j_blotus

      I’m also a huge fan of Sublime Text 2. I actually run it as my default text editor when I don’t want to pop in to the IDE.

  • akdeveloper

    I had similar story with you.  When i worked on windows machine i used Dreamweaver and PSPad.Switching  to linux machine  i used Eclipse and Netbeans. Both ide used a lot of memory so i decided to build my ide around gEdit,  gnome text editor. Lightweight with a lot of third party plugins i had a a very good ide to work. 

    Then came gnome3 and gEdit lost compatible with old plugins. I had to find a new ide once for all. 

    (g)Vim was my last choice. I didn’t like the verbose shortcuts it uses. i didnt like a lot of thing from this 40+ years editor. I give it a chance for a few weeks added some plugins and now is my base ide.

    You dont have to be vim expert to use it. I dont use the fancy things it has. I dont consider myself a vim guru. But i do my work on it.  Just use what you want. Shortcuts after a few weeks of use are not so verbose. It doesnt depend on anything else so can break compatibility, it runs almost on every available OS, small footprint it, has good plugins for php support. It saved my time for searching a good ide.

    Just give it a try for a few weeks. First days would be frustrating, but in time you ‘ll see that it worth.

    • j_blotus

      very good points, thank you for the comment

  • Mindshare Studios

    Thanks for the article I downloaded PHP Storm yesterday and so far I’m really loving it. I almost wrote the program off because I didn’t like the design on their site (says a lot about me I guess) but the code formatting options and refactoring are great. The only thing I’m missing from Dreamweaver so far is DW’s find and replace dialog. So far I haven’t found any other IDE with as nice a way to search and replace code across multiple files. Also the built in FTP support in PHP Storm seems a bit counter intuitive but maybe just needs getting used to.

  • Klemens

    Keep in mind that PHPStorm has autosave. And you can not switch off this behaviour. Make same typo in any open file and you are not warned… Sounds incredible? look here: http://devnet.jetbrains.net/thread/291434

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Jackson/100002145182091 Robert Jackson

    I just want a damn IDE for PHP that works. But until I get tons of money to buy the various IDE’s out there, I don’t feel like doing the trial versions and having to learn all the little quirks of each one.

    So, is there a PHP IDE that works? Netbeans 7.2 for PHP sounded promising, yet it is so shitty it doesn’t even show the arguments for my methods, nope can’t do it. Sometimes if I restart it it works, then it shits out again. I just don’t understand why it is so hard to create a working PHP IDE, I mean Microsoft does great with their Visual Studio IDE it works wonderfully for their languages. Why can’t Zend create an IDE for PHP that works?

  • Magic

    phpstorm realy has nice stuff. but unfortunately it not has ability to show multiple projects at same frame, like eclipse php explorer or navigator does.

    This kind of feature is very useful, i will stay with eclipse for now. Once phpstorm will have it – than i will switch for sure

  • Pingback: First Impressions: Cloud9 IDE + PHP | explosive web programming w/ j_blotus

  • Gavin Williams

    Loved eclipse and PDT/Zend Studio, hated how slugish it was on Windows, bought a mac, problem solved! Runs just as fast if not faster than netbeans.

    Eclipse Juno has a fine interface as does all of the PDT plugins and third party extensions. Didn’t like the hefty price tag of Zend Studio and didn’t see the point in paying a premium for silly things like refactoring. Now use the PDT suite of plugins and Symfony 2′s plugins and it’s amazing!

    • j_blotus

      thanks for sharing!

  • Mikko Rantalainen

    I have tried using Netbeans, PhpStorm and Eclipse PDT and I think the best solution overall is PDT. I’m currently using Eclipse 4.3 and Eclipse PDT 3.2 (both are “development” versions but work better than last “stable” versions). I agree that Eclipse PDT is *very* hard to get running right, but I’m using Code 2 Duo machine and Eclipse is working fine with 500MB memory limit (including MaxPermSize).

    Eclipse 4.3 allows disabling all HTML validation stuff that eats all CPU and RAM resources it can find. With Eclipse 3.7 or lesser, those “features” cannot be disabled and as a result, everything freezes from time to time with bigger projects.

    If you’re using some well known issue tracker, you should definitely learn Eclipse Mylyn. Just remember to press “Focus on active task” button in PHP Explorer view once you have activated task in Mylyn (for some reason Eclipse defaults to off for this button).

    Short guide for installing Eclipse 4.3 + PDT:

    (1) Go to http://download.eclipse.org/eclipse/downloads/ and select the Eclipse platform version you want to use (I’d suggest latest “Stable build” version which is 4.3M6 right now). After clicking the link with the version number locate “Platform Runtime Binary” for your platform. I’m using “eclipse-platform-4.3M6-linux-gtk-x86_64.tar.gz”

    (2) Decompress the package and launch eclipse

    (3) Select Help – Install New Software …

    (4) Click “Add…” and add following URLs as new repository sites:
    http://download.eclipse.org/releases/kepler
    http://download.eclipse.org/releases/indigo
    (and maybe http://download.eclipse.org/tools/pdt/updates/3.2-nightly)

    (5) Select “Work with — All available sites” and search and select following plugins/features:

    - Egit
    - EGit Mylyn
    - Mylyn Tasks Connector: Trac
    - Mylyn Versions Connector: Git
    - PDT Mylyn Feature
    - PHP development tools (PDT)
    - PHP development tools (PDT) Mylyn Integration

    Of course, replace the Mylyn connector with something else but Trac if you use something else (e.g. Bugzilla).

    Warning: As I’m writing this, PDT 3.2 nightlies claim to work with DLTK 4.x but in reality you need DLTK 5.x. Unfortunately DLTK project has failed to deliver that version officially so the major pain is to install DLTK 5.x. Otherwise, installing PDT is just checking the checkbox and hitting Next/Install.

  • pcunite

    I’m loving NuSphere’s PhpED, but I’ll take a look at PHPStorm

  • jan78

    Why make IDEs at all?
    Employ 30 India coders for a 1$ and off you go.
    In business world quantity beats quality big time.
    :(((

  • MagicPanties

    Code Lobster. Free. Built-in debugger. Awesome.

    I do like DW “split” and design views, and ability to test jquery mobile app with “LIve” button, but Code Lobster debugger is amazing.

  • peter31

    Cool article.

    I tested them all on windows. Eclipse PDT was the best, but i really dont like Java-based apps. My Notebook-Fan is running very very loud. So i uninstalled it again.

    Zend-Studio was def. a NOGO, because i had to buy 3 licences (home, notebook and office). Settings cannot be exported/imported. Last but not least: Its Java-Based!.

    RapidPHP is a good choice as a lightweight IDE, but their GUI is very very very bad (Breakpoints on linenubers etc…). They really need a good GUI designer!.

    NetBeans is toooooo slow. NOGO

    Komodo IDE/Edit is a good Choice, because it feels as native app. Its very fast. The debugger runs on the fly. One manko was, that the PHP-Start/End-Tag-Color cannot be colored different. On other software its much better to filter PHP in HTML beacause my eyes are looking for red colored tag-starts…

    Finally:
    I moved back to Dreamweaver/firephp/Notepad++ Combi. And im waiting, that komodo implements some basic stuff…

    Java should really not installed on a Windows machine. Who needs a operating system (java) running on an other operating system (windows).

  • Markus Hausammann

    Just for the record. I’ve been through DreamWeaver, Aptana, ZendStudio, NetBeans and Eclipse and now our whole team is using PhpStorm for quite some time already and we’re not going anywhere else. PhpStorm is superb, a few universes better than all the rest, affordable, fast to pick up and integrate new things. E.g. composer integration, sass integration, vagrant integration, etc.

  • thanatoid

    Stumbled on this after searching for a fix to the latest PHPStorm bug I’ve encountered. I’d say they were an obvious choice a couple years ago, especially in terms of features and price, but today I’m ready to quit them for good. The latest version, 7 as of now, introduces a vast host of bugs that make it all but unusable, focuses on adding obscure features that benefit few, meanwhile a list of bugs that have been outstanding for 3+ years have yet to be touched. No way I’m paying for that upgrade.

    I’m off to try NUSphere now.

  • Prick

    Komodo Edit is not bad.

  • humblewizard

    I’m a happy user of PhpStorm. I hope that they support the XHP syntax of HHVM by Facebook soon.

  • Andrew Osiname

    The solution is simple, stop coding in PHP and move to ASP.NET MVC using Visual Studio if you can then just pick a lightweight PHP editor and stick with it.

    I am not biased but I have been on a similar journey to you. I now write business web applications using ASP.NET and I’m forced into still coding in PHP because we also use Moodle. However I just use a lightweight editor (Notepad ++ believe it or not). All I want is syntax highlighting. I use the Moodle API to reference arguments that go into functions/classes and I just remember the PHP built in functions and use PHP.NET/Google when I forget. Yes it takes me maybe more time to code but it saves the agony of being let down by all the various PHP IDEs. I have tried the following:

    Eclipse, Aptana, Komodo, Netbeans and tried them each about twice or even thrice and been let down every time.

    Having said that, I have not tried Zend and PHP Storm because I am fed up in wasting time learning how to use a PHP IDE then being let down so I just use PHP for Moodle (or whatever Moodle based system I may inherit) and nothing else…

    In ASP.NET, no matter where you go, you will be using Visual Studio. If you want to build with MVC style, the framework/template is built in.

    In PHP, you may find the best IDE and think your problems are solved. Then comes the time when you want to build with MVC and you are met with numerous different PHP MVC frameworks so you enter a new battle: Why can’t someone just make a good MVC Framework for PHP?

    • j_blotus

      Hi Andrew,

      I can definitely empathize with your position, and I also have a copy of Notepad++ for quick edits. On my day-to-day project I am using PHPStorm, and have been for over a year. It honestly just keeps getting better with each release and it helps me to be more productive. I have even had luck converting a few text-editor folks over to trying it. Every other IDE you mentioned let me down in some way.

      As far as frameworks go of course that is a matter for another blog post ;)

  • Albert

    I try PHPStorm :P

  • Michael Brinson

    I’ve been using phpEd for 6 years now. As others have said, I have been very disappointed by the lackluster support. It has such great potential, but nothing ever seems to just WORK. I always run into problems so that nothing is as quick and simple to set up as I would hope.

    This is especially true when it comes to remote debugging. It’s so sweet when it works, but it’s always the hugest headache to set up and get working. I wouldn’t mind if this were just due to user error and it was something I could change, but unfortunately there are just some inherent problems in the IDE itself. The FTP account setup is buggy such that the Project settings wizard does not integrate with it correctly. Paths get messed up and there is no way to force the project settings wizard to use the correct path to upload the debugger test script to, etc, etc, etc.

  • google-guy

    NuSphere for large php application development still has nothing that comes even close. built in debugging, code completition including classes and functions, and more make spank the snot out of everything else. It is the only reason I am not Mac only.