Top 3 PHP IDEs

What can I say about our beloved IDEs?  To those just learning, this may just seem like another meaningless acronym in a world already filled with pointless acronyms; however, this will save your life … literally!  So, what is an IDE?

IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment.  IDEs allow you to perform a multitude of tasks from one place.  Example uses of an IDE include editing code, debugging an application, and updating SVN.  IDEs don’t have to include all of these features, and they aren’t limited to just these features.

Below I’ve compiled my top three PHP IDEs:

1. Eclipse PDT (Free)

Eclipse PDT - PHP Perspective
Eclipse PDT - PHP Perspective

Eclipse is extremely powerful and supports a multitude of programming languages, most notably Java.  Eclipse PDT includes built-in support for JavaScript, and comes complete with code assist/completion, syntax highlighting, SVN and CVS support via Subclipse, project management features, and more.  The all-in-one package also comes with a PHP debugger. The downside is that it can be kind of slow at times if you are on an older PC.

2. Crimson Editor (Free)

Crimson Editor
Crimson Editor

Alright, so Crimson Editor is more of a “text editor” than anything else; however, it has proven to be quite useful regardless.  Though Crimson Editor hasn’t been actively worked on since 2008, when it was renamed Emerald Editor by another team, it is great for working on dual screens.  I often find myself using Crimson Editor to copy code from one place to another (i.e. Eclipse PDT on screen A, Crimson Editor on screen B).  Crimson Editor also comes equipped with syntax highlighting for many languages, word wrap, project settings, and built-in FTP.  CE is great because it takes up next to nothing as far as RAM and CPU, but it is not as robust as NetBeans or Eclipse PDT.

3. NetBeans (Free)

NetBeans IDE 6.7.1
NetBeans IDE 6.7.1

NetBeans is similar to Eclipse PDT, but is a little less robust in my opinion.  It does, however, offer version control functionality and database support right out of the box, as well as the other key features of any other IDE.  It seems to be a little faster than Eclipse, and has gained traction in the community.  I don’t really use NetBeans too often, but if Eclipse went away, I would start eating NetBeans.

There are many more great IDEs out there, but these have made quite the impression on me and some of my friends.  It really comes down to personal preference, and what you are trying to do.  They all revolve around the same basic principles, and have similar features.  Try each one out, and find out what works best for you.

I encourage everyone to comment and let us know which IDE you use and why you use it.



7 thoughts on “Top 3 PHP IDEs”

  1. @Zecc

    I sure can! It isn’t that knowing the definition will save your life, but that using an IDE to its fullest can speed up development time; thus, precious minutes of your life are not wasted doing some of the menial things that might have to be done without the use of an IDE.

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