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PHP IDE's

Alastair Grant | Thu 10 Aug 2006

I'm always on the look out of ways of making development easier (and cheaper). I do most my web development in PHP (as it's free...).

Being a scripted language, you can write PHP in any text editor, such as notepad. Just like HTML. But it's a pain in the arse to do so. The best way to develop, in my humble opinion is with an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). These provide all-sorts of lovely features to make it easier to write code.

The best IDE I have used to date is Zend Studio. The down side to this product, is the price tag. Which is about £160.

What I really look for in a PHP IDE is the following:

  • Intellisense (e.g. code prompts, but able to pick up your own class structure and methods)
  • Free (yeah, whatever, I don't charge you for viewing my site...)
  • Class viewer
  • Syntax highlighting (well, if it doesn't, then it's notepad)
  • Auto ident (and unindent)
  • Auto completion of things such as brackets and quotes. But, when you write over the closing character, it doesn't repeat it.


I have looked at a few, including these:


Dev PHP was the first free one I tried for a while. It just wasn't any good. Buggy, and not very nice to use.

PHP Side, I started, then deleted, just didn't feel good enough.

PHP Edit I used for a while, whilst it was in Beta. But they started charging for it, so I gave up on that. It was a very good quick edit program, but that's all. If I had to pay anything for a quick edit program, I would go for UltraEdit.

PHP Designer 2005 I used for a while on my latest piece of work, but dropped it because it's poor class browser and project support.

I then came to the conclusion of PHP Eclipse. This is based on the maturing Eclipse project, which is most common as a Java IDE. So the environment is much the same, and offers all the features you would expect from a professional IDE. I feel quite at home when working with Eclipse along side other tools I use like Visual Studio 2005 (which, obviously, doesn't support PHP).

So if you are looking for a comprehensive IDE, then I would go with PHP Eclipse. For quick edits, go with something simpler like UltraEdit, or if you don't mind the IDE loading times, Dreamweaver.

Breaking from the voyeuristic norms of the Internet, any comments can be made in private by contacting me.

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