Review: 2 PHP tools rise above the rest

You'll find no shortage of heavyweight PHP IDEs, but few are uncluttered, focused, and smooth

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld |  Software, developer tools, PHP

The news is now old that investors will be given a chance to trade big piles of cash for a piece of the pile of code known as Facebook.com. Just a short time ago, few of us would have predicted that a pile of PHP would be worth billions of dollars, but clearly we underestimated the power of the platform.

It's not fair to say that Facebook is 100% PHP. Large parts of the data layer were built in Java with the open source Cassandra, and large parts of the UI were built in JavaScript, but the point is still clear. PHP is more than just a language for junior high school kids to learn after they master balancing DIV tags in HTML. It can support enterprise-grade installations and deliver the kind of heavy lifting that brings power plants to their knees.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Review: Fabulous PHP frameworks | First look: Zend's PHP developer cloud | Follow the latest issues in software development with InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]

To get a flavor for the latest in PHP programming, I spent some time unpacking the current set of development tools for PHP -- eight in all. I built some projects, modified some plug-ins for popular content management systems, and experimented with building another pile of PHP that will be worth many billions of dollars if I keep my fingers crossed.

There has been much progress over the years. In the past, I've generally relied upon emacs to create the code. When I needed to watch a variable, I would just print it into a Web page and trace the flow through there. That technique is generally adequate for basic debugging because the traditional job of PHP is to do a bit of basic data manipulation and get out of the way when the database shows up to do the real work.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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