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

Despite all of this, there were still moments when I struggled. While Zend Studio said it could detect the Zend Server, I had to fiddle with several buttons until the application would deploy. There are a number of features for controlling the deployment, and configuration is not as simple as a push of one button. Deployment options include using the local server, deploying to a distant version of Zend Server, or connecting to phpcloud.com, and this flexibility comes with a price.

Zend Studio is one of the more extensive IDEs, including features like a toolbar for Firefox and IE, although the toolbar wouldn't work with the latest version of Firefox that Mozilla automatically shoved into my system. There are buttons to add JavaScript libraries and generally make life a bit easier for AJAX developers. Zend Studio isn't as simple as some of the other IDEs, but it's a thoroughly modern setup packed with features.

PhpStorm PhpStorm is the product of a company that also makes Java IDEs, in this case JetBrains, which may be better known for the highly regarded IntelliJ. JetBrains' PHP tool, however, doesn't come integrated with its Java tool, unlike many of the other IDEs described here. I suppose there might be some developers who are creating hybrid PHP/Java applications and might be disappointed by this, but I don't think there will be many. It's still possible to run both IntelliJ and PhpStorm on the same machine.

PhpStorm exhibits much of the same attention to detail that made IntelliJ popular. I still find IDEs like Eclipse to be a bit arcane, with their complex trees that often hide important jobs in some deep corner of the hierarchy. The folks at JetBrains have done a better job of cleaning up the UI and putting the buttons in places that are simpler to find and understand. All of the coloring and completion are here, but in a simpler form. Not that PhpStorm is simplistic -- for instance, there are six different preintegrated source control options, more than you'll find in the other tools.

Configuration benefits from a number of wizards to assist you in getting everything connected. While the other IDEs offer some fields that either work or don't, PhpStorm takes things a bit further.

PhpED NuSphere's PhpED is one of the older IDEs around, but it's one of the few that's avoided going astray and diluting itself by supporting every possible language. It's a PHP tool, and this is obvious from the moment you install it.


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