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The Big PHP IDE Test: Why Use One And Which To Choose

Everyone wants to be more productive, make fewer mistakes and write good code. Of course, that all depends on you, but in most cases integrated development environments (IDEs) can help you achieve those goals more easily. Unfortunately, choosing the right IDE is very difficult because a lot needs to be considered. And the website of almost every IDE tells us it is the best one1.

You may also want to check out the following Smashing Magazine articles:

In this post, we’ll take a close look at the most popular PHP IDEs, exploring their functions, comparing them in a table and drawing some conclusions. Hopefully, you’ll get an idea of what each PHP IDE has to offer and which one best fits your needs.

I am the best!

For a long time, I worked in PHP only for fun. I’ve developed Java Web applications with Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA. These are a great Java IDEs. Not surprisingly, I wanted something similar for PHP. The following are some of the features that I found needed to be considered.

IDE Features Link

1. Syntax highlighting Link

Good syntax highlighting improves code readability a lot. Really! Just look at this:

Syntax highlighting

2. Code completion Link

Automatic code suggestions can help the developer avoid having to type so much. If it supports custom classes and phpDoc4, it can even save you from having to read project documentation.

Good code completion can also prevent typos. For example, if typing $cotroller-> does not show you any suggestions, you’ll know something is wrong. Uh oh… it should be $controller!

Poor code completion can slow you down if too many variants are shown or your class methods are not picked up.

Code completion

It is also good to have file name completion in HTML src=" and PHP include and require.

3. Navigation Link

One of the most boring things is trying to find where a certain variable has been defined or used. Some good IDEs can help with “GoTo” actions, like go to definition.

Another important feature is search. Searching should not take a long time, even with large projects. Even better is if the IDE lets you move quickly to the next occurrence of a search phrase, like Firefox does with its Quick Find feature.

Code navigation

4. Errors and warnings highlighting Link

On-the-fly syntax checking can prevent various typos and common programming mistakes. In the example below, the IDE indicates that you may have used = instead of ==:

Warning and errors

The more the IDE detects, the better — except false positives, of course.

5. Refactoring and code generation Link

Refactoring is basically a set of techniques for turning weak code into solid code. Its implementation in PHP IDEs is very weak compared to that of compiled-language IDEs, such as Java and C, but it’s still very useful.

Very basic PHP refactoring includes:

  • “Move,” which updates all includes and requires when moving a file to another directory.
  • “Rename,” which renames something and ensures it is renamed throughout the project.
  • “Safe delete,” which ensures deletion of a file does not harm other parts of the project.


In addition to basic refactoring, some IDEs can generate code for class constructors, getters/setters and even stub methods for a parent class.

Code generation

6. Debugging Link

Debugging is not so critical in PHP because you can add echos or use something like FirePHP without even having to recompile your code. But for complex applications in which you need to add echo after each line to see what’s going on, debugging can save you hours.


If the IDE is good enough, it provides you with step-by-step debugging and lets you see the current values of variables in scope.

7. Versioning system Link

Versioning is extremely useful for both team and one-person development. It shows what changes have been made to a file, when they were made and by whom. A good IDE allows you to visually compare revisions, copy changes from one version to another, revert to previous states and merge changes made by different team members.

Visual diff

When performing common checks and commits, integrating a versioning system such as CVS, SVN, git or Mercurial in your IDE is usually much better than running a separate application.

8. Client-side features Link

Using PHP alone is very rare. CSS and JavaScript are almost always somewhere in your application. So, good code completion, highlighting, navigation and perhaps some refactoring would be just as beneficial for the other languages and technologies you use in conjunction with PHP.

HTML code completion

How To Choose A Good One? Link

Every IDE provides a lot of features. Some of those features are very useful, some are not. Here are some guidelines to follow to narrow down the one for you:

  • Try free ones first. Their feature set may be enough for you, and you wouldn’t need to pay for a license.
  • First, make sure the features you want are ones you really need. If they are, check that they work properly in your IDE of choice.
  • If you find one IDE that fits well but is missing one or two features, try specialized tools.
  • Once you choose an IDE, play with it for a week before implementing it in a big project. You may find your current working habits are too strong to allow you to feel comfortable with it.

A Comparison Table Link

The great IDE filter

Along with Vladimir Statsenko5, who helped with the section on Aptana, I’ve prepared this comparison table6.

What Was Covered Link

Eclipse-based IDEs
PDT, Zend Studio 6, Aptana PHP and Aptana Studio Pro are built on the Eclipse platform. That means you can use any of the thousands of Eclipse plug-ins out there. If a feature you need is not integrated in the IDE itself, it is most likely available as a third party plug-in.

Eclipse PHP IDEs were the first freeware IDEs with true IDE capabilities, such as complex code completion, code navigation, projects support, etc. Most of them are still free and very powerful.

NetBeans is the new bright kid on the block, but not built on the Eclipse platform. It has most of the features of other IDEs and yet more still. And it’s free, too.

Development of this IDE is very public, open and rapid. Following the development blog and testing new builds as they come out is very interesting, even if there is already a stable version available (v6.5).

What Was Not Covered Link

There are plenty of powerful notepads such as PSPad, Notepad++, TextMate, vim and Emacs. Some are very similar to IDEs and even better if you want a good text editor but not the full IDE experience. Reviewing all of the good IDEs out there would not be possible (there are so many), so only the major players are compared here.

PHP IDEs We Tested Link

Here is the list of PHP IDEs we included in our review:

  • PDT 1
  • PDT 2.0
  • Zend Studio 6
  • NetBeans 6.5
  • NetBeans 7 (development version)
  • Aptana PHP
  • Aptana Studio Pro
  • Codelobster *
  • Nusphere PhpED 5.6 *

We thought it would be interesting to allow our readers to edit the table, which is hosted on Google Docs. Feel free to add your favorite IDE if it’s not there, or note some features on the ones that are.

Comparison table7

The full table at Google Docs8 (not editable snapshot9)

* Codelobster and Nusphere PhpED were filled in by Russian community members.

Conclusion Link

Still not using IDE? You may be wasting time. Try it. You’ll see the difference.

Both PDT and NetBeans are good. If you need a lot of plug-ins, Eclipse is the better choice. If editing tools and code completion are more important to you, then pick NetBeans. NetBeans is a bit more responsive, too.

If you are mostly editing HTML and CSS, try Notepad++, vim, TextMate or Emacs. They all have very good HTML editing capabilities and can be configured for simple code completion. And they are faster and lighter than fully featured IDEs.

If you are editing complex JavaScript, try Aptana, which is amazing for JavaScript, or the Spket plug-in10 for Eclipse, which has nearly the same features.

And remember, IDEs are not meant to change the way you think. They simply speed up the development process.

Commercial vs. Freeware Link

Strange as it may sound, commercial PHP IDEs such as Zend Studio and Aptana Studio Pro do not have significantly more advantages than free alternatives such as PDT2.0 and NetBeans, both of which are very good.

With Aptana Studio Pro, you get a good IE JavaScript debugger, SFTP, FTPS and some other less-than-useful features for $99.

Like NetBeans, Zend Studio offers a bit more code completion and error detection than PDT. It also has a very good customizable code formatter, refactoring capabilities (which NetBeans also has) and some wizards for the Zend Framework. It starts at $399.

Resources Link


Footnotes Link

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Alexander Makarov is a professional Web developer in Russia. He is also the person behind RMCreative, a Russian blog dedicated to Web developers, designers and everyone interested in how the Web is built.

  1. 1

    Ehm … and what about code folding? That’s one pretty addictive feature!

  2. 2

    Yeah, these are cool, but I use coda.

  3. 3

    You should also look at phpDesigner by MPSOFTWARE. Very light and stable and also very cheap. Just recently bought mine.

  4. 4

    I still find Rapid PHP the best IDE out there. Customizable, feature-full but doesn’t feel bogged down and it’s only about $40 (lengthy trial version available).

    Tried most of the others you’ve referenced and none ‘fit’ as well for me. Might be as about half the coding I do is procedural/inline as opposed to straight OOP and it seems to handle that best.

  5. 5

    What about PHPEclipse? It predates PDT and I still think PDT is playing catch up.

  6. 6

    Microsoft Expression Web 2 provides php syntax coloring, code completion (IntelliSense), a development server that doesn’t require configuration (and also serves up pages), and common php scripts for quick insertion.

  7. 7

    Right now I’m using PDT 2.0 on linux.
    Before I was using the easyeclipse distribution. For syntax hilight I prefer easyeclipse that supports also smarty, but on linux has serious problem of stability.
    For PDT exists a plugin called smartypdt, but It doen’t work for the last version of PDT.

    How about the other ides ?

  8. 8

    I was surprised not to see komodo ide in this test (why bother comparing various version of the same product like pdt 1 / 2 ?).

    Check it out:

  9. 9

    Nice article and really complete comparison table! Personally I’ve been using Notepad and Notepad++. There’s also Komodo Edit, a free (open source) PHP IDE that I’ll probably try out soon.

  10. 10

    Trevor - 14 Year Old Blogger

    February 11, 2009 5:13 pm

    Informative article. Gives me a lot to think about.

  11. 11

    To be honest I tried before Zend Studio and is the best IDE i’ve tried in my PHP life. The problem with Zend Studio is the cost.
    After the Zend’s trial, I moved to e-texteditor (TextMate for Windows) and it’s ok, but I miss Zend Studio.
    Could you tell me which of this IDEs is the most like Zend? I tried NetBeans and I didn’t like something but I don’t remember.
    Have anybody tried also the Zend PDT (NOT the Zend Studio, I mean the Eclipse with all the Zend stuff).

    Great article (as ever)

  12. 12

    There is an eclipse SFTP plugin called ESftp ( ). So all those eclipse ide’s can check off that in your spread sheet.

  13. 13

    Nice article! I am very helpful !

  14. 14

    Permana Jayanta

    February 11, 2009 5:44 pm

    I Use netbeans …. it really suite my needs …

  15. 15

    I’m a huge fan of PDT, I develop in flax a lot too soo being able to have everything in a eclipse based IDE make life soo much easier.

  16. 16

    I’ve been using Komodo Edit since I changed my computer for a Mac.
    It’s a little bit confusing at the start for those used to standard and basic text editors like Notepad and Textpad, but once you’re use to it, it’s really more efficient to work with these IDE tools. So, as I’m happy with Komodo Edit, I would recommend it.

  17. 17


  18. 18

    I’ve added Panic’s Coda to the list. It’s a Mac application.

  19. 19

    Currently, I’m using Zend Studio 5.5 (not Eclipse-based) and it’s awesome..

  20. 20

    @Kenneth – I’ve tried phpDesigner2006 and 2007. I liked 2006 better. What version do you use, and how does it compare to these other versions?

    I just use Notepad++, and I have some complaints, but it’s like a good friend; Hard to walk away from.

  21. 21

    Yeah I’m also using phpDesigner. It has very good features and a very competitive price tag. One editing feature that I like that phpDesigner has is the ability to highlight the start and closing tag of an html element. I know that sounds so simple but I have yet to see Dreamweaver incorporate that.

  22. 22

    Fausto Carrera

    February 11, 2009 7:09 pm

    I use Eclipse with the PHP Development tools from Zend, and it’s the best IDE. and it’s open source ;)

  23. 23

    i cant believe no mention of far and away the best PHP IDE, and that id phpEd. yes i know its not free, but if your a real developer the small cost of having a professional IDE is an investment well worth making.

  24. 24

    Derek Reynolds

    February 11, 2009 7:24 pm

    This is funny. Just got back from the Boston PHP Meetup where we went over this exact topic. Wish I knew about it earlier! Good overview of all the major IDE’s. I just can’t let go of my text editor.

  25. 25

    Robert Gonzalez

    February 11, 2009 7:55 pm

    I use EclipsePDT. I have used it for over a year now. I have ZendStudio but in my opinion it is crap. I still cannot get it to hook into my SVN repositories correctly and it just doesn’t offer the stuff to me as EcipsePDT, as odd as that may sound.

    I have NetBeans as well, and when I want a fast IDE I use it. There are still a lot of shortcomings in that IDE that really leave me wanting more from it. If it was just a few inches closer to PDT I’d make it my only environment for PHP, HTML, CSS, JS, UML, DBA stuff… it can do everything. Just not as smart as PDT in my opinion.

    For quick stuff, in Linux, I use either gedit, ghpedit or vim. They really can’t be beat for weight. Bluefish is another nice editor with lots of features but is a bit heavier than most editors.

    For Windows I use notepad++ for my fast stuff, though I have toyed around with Notepad2, Programmers Notepad, PSPad, e-TextEditor, TSWebEditor and a few others.

    Regardless of my environment though EclipsePDT has always won out. Always.

    Oh yeah, and Aptana studio? Crap in my opinion. It is worse that ZendStudio.

    I wrote an article about EclipsePDT in October of 2007 which was a sort of follow up to an article I wrote on available editors which in turn was a follow up to an article I wrote on picking a coding tool. I know the IDE landscape has changed quite a bit, but still, I would hold fast to my contention that EclipsePDT is the best PHP IDE out there.

  26. 26

    Leland Clemmons

    February 11, 2009 8:03 pm

    Coda FTW.

  27. 27

    I switched to Netbeans i was working on notepad++
    notepad++ is fast but i cant ignore the power Netbeans gives you.
    Diff of Netbeans is a master piece

  28. 28

    Still Notepad has one advantage over both Eclipse (including its derivatives Zend Studio and Aptana) and NetBeans: the freakin’ word-wrap functionality.

  29. 29

    I added Coda to the file.
    Who took it out again?
    Not nice.

  30. 30

    I like Aptana but it’s slow as hell on my VERY modern/souped up/high-end Mac with just moderate-sized files. It’s to the point where it’s unusable, which is a shame because it’s a great free app. If anyone has used Eclipse before, you’d be right at home in Aptana, I really hope they get the speed issues resolved.

    I’ll check out NetBeans as well.

  31. 31

    Awww… You forgot PHP Eclipse which is different from PDT Eclipse.

  32. 32

    There is another error: PDT Eclipse is *not* freeware, but free open source software as it is licensed under Eclipse Public License, which is OSI-approved, while no freeware in the world is OSI-approved.

  33. 33

    Mmmm… You forgot to mention that ZEND has a built-in FTP browser, that makes life much easier. I haven’t found another IDE that has this feature…

  34. 34

    I’m sad that Ruby on Rails was left out. Aptana Studio carries the RadRails plugin. Seems decent. Just waiting for more bugs to be ironed out before I can give Aptana a solid 5 five star rating. It’s got excellent features though.

  35. 35

    I’m in agreement with Dave who uses Flex too. I was introduced to Eclipse by virtue of Flex Builder. The I wanted to get some runtime PHP debugging going on, instead of the problematic messing with ‘insert/remove echoes, use a log file, etc solutions. Voila PDT. (PHP Dev Tool) I’m delighted with Eclipse and the various plugins it supports. First was a SaS code version repository supplier: now I’ve managed to the do the Linux servers-ide bits to make a SVN repository that I can use Subclipse Eclipse plug-in for Subversion. Guess I don’t need tortoise SVN. If it wasn’t for Eclipse I probably wouldn’t be working with PHP.

    This blew my mind: I was able to step in Flex client-side code, into the PHP serverside, and then back into the Flex clientside. I was quite delighted when I saw that work. Of course, we don’t want to be spending too much time in the debugger, but when we have to, it might as well be awesome.

    The secret is to have Xdebug on your apache/php engine.

    If you’re not using an IDE for your PHP development…. WAKE UP!

    My only worry is to how much work it might be to rebuild my various environments if my system got fried/toasted/scorched otherwise critically damaged. Actually: probably not too long. Keep backups!

  36. 36

    Those speach bubbles used in the graphic for this article are excellent. It would be awesome if you made those available as a download in png format. I am trying to get them out of the graphic but they are overlapping.

  37. 37

    I prefer Notepad++ with xdebug and firephp to complete my IDE requirements

  38. 38

    Always wondered what’s out there to craft some PHP code. Greate article! Thanks.

  39. 39

    phpEd should be on this compraison. it’s powerful, but a bit pricey.
    Myself, I found netbeans to be better, so I switched after phpEd’s trial ;)

    Also if you’re only in it for HTML/CSS, I would definately go for Top Style lite. it’s free, and has very nice css auto completion.

  40. 40

    Hi Guys,

    nice article… but regarding the Google Docs Spreadsheet: why don’t you use the “publish as webpage” feature so nobody can fiddle around?


  41. 41

    Good article. I thought, the PDT is not any more in development since 2 or 3 years?!
    I am waiting for a similiar comparison for JavaScript IDEs ;-)


  42. 42

    You should had Komodo & Komodo Edit to the comparison

  43. 43

    I’m at home with Aptana or PhpEd. I’ve tried them all, but these two are superior IDE’s then all others by far.

  44. 44

    You completely missed Delphi4PHP:


  45. 45

    You guys missed PHPEdit – by far one of the best PHP IDE-s. It is especially weird if you consider that it made to the last best php tools article :/

  46. 46

    February 12, 2009 1:11 am

    Hi folks…
    I am still surprised nobody mentioned Adobe Dreamweaver!
    And I am still surprised that many of folks thinks Dreamweaver has onlz design capabilities and not a coding environment….
    Several zears ago I used a program called Homesite, when it was still Allaire’s… Than Macromedia bought it and incorporated it into the Dreamweaver so I had to switch if I wanted to use the same coding capabilities + unicode support + other usefull stuff. The only think was I didn’t really like was that DW was very bloated and slow.

    Over the years Macromedia (and than Adobe) improved DW alot and added some great functionality to DW and stripped down the environment and now if I choose the coding layout it seems very slick and clean and lightweight!

    I love many DW coding features and other stuff that are essential for a developer
    – good php support (syntax coloring, code completition, debugging and other usefull stuff)
    – good html/css/javascript support (same stuff as for php)
    – projects (organizing your files – connecting with server side technology)
    – incorporated excellent ftp support!
    – incorporated subversioning system
    – fast
    – clean
    – lightweight

    I miss two things…though
    – my code snippets (this was stripped from Homesite – I don’t know why… I would like to be able to make my own chunks of code [] with shortcut “php” for example and I would then type php and and press a special key or a combination (in homesite was ctrl+j and my snitppet would appear with cursor in position where | (pipe) was in the snippet

    – better support for php frameworks like cakePHP or symfony or codeIgniter, etc

    sorry for my long post :)

  47. 47

    Really really helpfull article! Thanks a lot!

  48. 48

    “only the major players are compared here”

    I’m sorry, you can’t claim that and call an article ‘The Big PHP IDE Test’ and not include:

    Komodo IDE
    NuSphere PhpED

    This article is misleading and limited. How many people are really using NetBeans for PHP?

  49. 49

    On jobe i’m using Eclipse PDT 2, for php projects.
    At home only Netbeans, with php and ruby.

  50. 50

    This article highlights some useful features of IDEs but I wouldn’t call it a “BIG test”. And it seems like the comparison table is nowhere near complete… You can’t say , “Here is a comparison table” – and then just hope that other people fill it in, lol! :)

    I tried many IDEs over several years and Nusphere phpEd is what I liked best. Recently I heard about PHP Designer (, which looks pretty good.

    Zend Studio is too slow and buggy, Eclipse is too chaotic for me. I didn’t like Komodo and UltraEdit – they didn’t have good enough support for multiple displays,

    Netbeans looks good and I haven’t tried that before so I’ll check it out.

  51. 51

    Visual Studio 2008 and VS.Php for Visual Studio 2008


  52. 52

    I realize that this topic was specific to PHP usage, but I know very few developers who do only PHP (and related JS/SQL/*ML). For programmers who code in multiple languages depending on the active project, Eclipse really does fit the bill.

    In my case, I work with several different development teams from different companies. After getting them to base their development operations around Eclipse (and subversion), they not only see more efficiency internally, but I have been able to maximize throughput like never before. Being a consultant, this is extraordinarily important.

    I’m sure that this same solution is possible with other IDEs, but I personally haven’t found an IDE that works equally well for C,C++,Java,PHP,JS,SQL,markup, etc, and has the pluggable features (Subversion, etc) that development teams really need. The bonus is that Eclipse works/looks just the same on Windows and Linux.

  53. 53

    anyone care for this ?

  54. 54

    Alexander Makarov

    February 12, 2009 2:34 am

    Thanks for your comments everyone!

    I know there are a lot of good IDEs missing. Feel free to add them to the table.

    Please do not delete other member’s contributions. They are really valuable.

    What are the features you like most in Zend Studio?

    Code folding is in the table at google as well.

    Feel free to fix it in the table.

    the Begger
    Speech bubbles were made by my friend I’ll ask him about PNG.

    There are 2 versions. One is read only.

  55. 55

    my favorit is the phpdesigner 2008. It also supports all the above mentioned features.

  56. 56

    @OnWebDev – Komodo Edit is free, but it’s NOT Open Source.

    Komodo FTW!

  57. 57

    Sjon Hortensius

    February 12, 2009 3:37 am

    too bad PHPeclipse wasn’t covered; I have added it to the sheet; but some people seem to find it funny to delete random stuff from it…

  58. 58

    ok e and textmate are not covered; but why encourage people to remain stuck on those maybe powerful but so heavy-to-use interefaces instead of explaining that those all-in-ones are just a strage pack of stuff for the most part already installed in the computer ?
    everyones knows alt+tab, and it’s still 10000 times faster than changing from a tab to another inside those weirds softwares !!!

  59. 59

    and there are some talking about dreamweaver…
    can we talk about the use of text tabs inside aptana ?
    the markup enclosure in dw ?
    common, i don’t get why people wants it to be so complicated and weird…
    textmate is a standard (so e is), others should die.

  60. 60

    Can’t believe phpdesigner2008 is not in this test, by far the best IDE for windows. And really cheap too.

    Since I now have a mac I can’t use phpDesigner anymore, and now i am using aptana, but it feels so unnative on the mac.

  61. 61

    @Derek Reynolds, @Brian Gottier, and even more @totoloco :
    you’re right !

  62. 62

    @metthijn : “it feels so unnative on the mac”
    windows is unnative, so the software developped on it.

  63. 63

    I use Aptana and for SciTe some quick editing. Aptana is the best web IDE to me, mainly due to the extensive list of languages that supports by providing autocompletion, and the posibilities that arise from using code templates. I have at my site some code templates specific for WordPress The only pitfall I find for Eclipse based IDEs, including Aptana is that they are a bit slow when it comes to huge amounts of code (let’s say 5000+ lines).
    Thanks for this list, I’m going to try NetBeans, I’ve heard a lot about it.

  64. 64

    I use NetBeans. It’s really the only usable IDE for me. Eclipse + PDT are so difficult to set up.

    Coda is not an IDE. Dreamweaver is not an IDE. They don’t have most of the features defined in this article: debugging, refactoring, code completion just aren’t present with the same depth as Eclipse or NetBeans.

  65. 65

    could you please close the spreadsheet for editing? the table at it’s current version is not useable anymore.

  66. 66

    I’m missing PHPEdit… The best for me so far…

  67. 67

    Alexander Makarov

    February 12, 2009 4:41 am

    There is read only version.

  68. 68

    Netbeans runs just fine under 64bit linux.
    PDT or Zend Studio does not.

  69. 69

    As mentioned by someone else above PHP Designer ( is fantastic, I can’t get enough of it.

  70. 70

    We really like Visual Studio 2008 and VS.Php. I am not a big MS fan, but they do know how to make dev tools. Combine that with Visual SVN and we have a very powerful combo. Auto complete and auto formatting, deploy with one click to a test server, and then sync from the IDE with subversion. Its seamless and easy, even on my Mac with VS running in Fusion/Vista.

  71. 71

    My current favorite for Windows is Rapid PHP. As a long-time HomeSite user (before Macro-Adobe abandoned it), it fits my needs well.

    It’s a commercial product (around $40), but I’ve found it to be much more usable than others (I use it for PHP as well as JS, CSS, HTML, etc). I tested all of the ones here, plus about 4 more, and ended up buying Rapid PHP.

    I haven’t been disappointed.

  72. 72

    I just wanted to add that Nusphere phpEd has a built in FTP client, Database client and Terminal client (SSH) :) and it incorporates the OS shell menu, which is extremely useful if you use something like TortoiseSVN. TortoiseSVN is better than any “built-in” SVN client.

  73. 73

    I used NotePad++ for single quick files and NetBeans for projects.

  74. 74

    I have tested several free and commercial php-IDE’s (including Zend Studio and Studio for Eclipse). I can say, that phpEd does the best job – overall. It has no extenions like eclipse – but the debugger works good and the code completion is by far the best i have ever had. phpEd parses the strangest code structures and offers the correct classes and parameters. And (for everyday work) it is great that a file doesn’t have to be in a project to use the code completion. phpEd always shows the classes from the currently selected project – even if you have opened a file via ftp / sftp.

  75. 75

    Stuart Herbert

    February 12, 2009 7:38 am

    Stunned that phpEclipse wasn’t included in the list. Works very well.

  76. 76

    What about integrated debugging? This is really an important feature for me.
    Anyways, finally a complete article that states the obvious for me: NetBeans is the best. I also think Eclipse based are good, but Eclipse crawls like a worm…

  77. 77

    Darth KomodoVader

    February 12, 2009 7:54 am

    I Find Your Lack of Komodo Edit Disturbing..

  78. 78

    In reply to: “Komodo Edit is free, but it’s NOT Open Source.”

    Komodo Edit is open source. We build the distributed version from the sources available on Our code is largely under the same tri-license as Firefox, though we use other open source libraries that are under various OSI licenses. Komodo IDE is not open source, but is built largely on top of Edit.

    Shane Caraveo

  79. 79

    Alexander Makarov

    February 12, 2009 8:16 am

    It seems the idea to let community help a bit was not so productive. That’s sad…

  80. 80

    dude! please check that comparison table. i got goatsed. and i’m at work. =[

  81. 81

    TextMate beats any bloated IDE out there.

    But, that is a handsome console font you’re using in the screenshots. What is it?

  82. 82

    I use eclipse and I use it for everything as far as programming: php, java, etc. Hasn’t failed me yet

  83. 83

    I prefer using a combination of Kwrite, Kate and Quanta Plus.

  84. 84

    Aptana Studio for PHP is free … and open source for use standalone or as a plug-in to Eclipse. (The article above omits that fact from its list of free PHP IDEs.)

  85. 85

    I started out on Homesite 1.2, before getting Homesite 4 then 5 :) Yup way back when. I spent a while in Dreamweaver too (for my sins). First UltraDev (when it ran) and then MX followed by MX 2004. I was then introduced to Zend Studio 4 and I’ve been using it ever since. ZDE5 and 5.5 were both excellent and the licence is remarkably flexible as it covers all platforms. I am using ZDE6 now, largely because I have paid for it but it was a battle getting used to it. The first release was plagued by issues too which did not help, but 6.1.1 is starting to get decent – though it is still a long way from being reliable with random SVN issues and lockups where it just stops responding. I have some large’ish projects (few 1000s of classes, same in images etc) and it’s good for searching. I miss the class search from ZDE5 there is only file search in ZDE6. That was very useful oh and the lack of wordwrap is unbelievably annoying! Yes I know that there is Ahtik (spelling??) word wrap, but it should be in there. Biggest plus for ZDE6 though is the debugging and profiling with Zend Debugger. It is by far and away the slickest integration for PHP debugging in any IDE. You can get the Zend Debugger for “free” (you dont need Zend Platform but you can do some quite cool stuff if you do) and the reports it generates and very useful.

    I think if I had not invested so much time and money or if I had no budget I would likely use NetBeans now. I’ve played with 6.5 and while some of it is a little alien, it is extremely quick (compared to Eclipse based IDEs) and offers most of the features I need.

    I have tried Aptana, which IMHO is pretty rubbish. It is even slower than standard Eclipse or ZDE6, uses more memory and has a truly awful interface (if that is possible for Eclipse!). I have also been through latest Dreamweaver CS3/4 which is not really any good for PHP coding and PHP Designer which is a fast, windows only app with no ability to checkout from source control into a new project and debugging uses wincachegrind which is not included! Also has a really overloaded interface with tonnes of icons and menus.

    Finally, I have Komodo Edit to try but checking out from SVN into a new project is a requirement so I doubt that I would consider it for real dev work as the free Edit has no source control support.

  86. 86

    Unfortunately, somebody has deleted the comparison table content. :(
    You should’ve protected the sheets.

  87. 87

    Andrei Gonzales

    February 12, 2009 11:47 am

    Dreamweaver is not in the same league as the ones mentioned. It is overpriced and a poor performer when it’s for developing stuff like PHP or RoR.

    Aptana can develop PHP, RoR, Javascript (and the frameworks), HTML, CSS, etc.

  88. 88

    Komodo? Dreamweaver CS4? I expected those to make it on the list.

    I personally Dreamweaver CS4.

  89. 89

    Alexander Makarov

    February 12, 2009 1:11 pm

    There are two tables. One of them is read only.

  90. 90

    Until recently, I was a Dreamweaver user.. but had a good look into Netbeans 6.5 and it really grew on me. The code highlighting and navigation is really nicely done. One aspect that I really took to is its macro system. Hit the record button, type out a common php line that you might use often for say debugging, even backtrack your carot (cursor) afterwards, then stop the recording, bind it to a key, and voila! So when I want to output an array to check it’s keys / values by eample, I made a macro record: echo “pre”.print_r($, true); the cursor is positioned just after the dollar sign when all is said and done.. so I can simply add in the array’s name and done!

    I looked up plenty of Netbean’s built in macros for stuff like foreach (type fore then hit tab), functions (type fnc then hit tab), etc… there is a slew of macros that hammer out stuff so fast and easy. Other elements like code highlighting and maniuplating is great as well.. it enables me to click on a variable (which highlights all instances of that variable onscreen), hit Ctrl+r, type in a new variable name.. press enter, done! All instances are renamed. Very slick system IMO, and those reasons are why I swicthed from Dreamweaver.. Best of all, it’s free! Gotta love that!

    EDIT.. in the above echo code sample, the “pre” is actually the pre tag.. it just won’t display properly within the post.

  91. 91

    I continue to be really rather surprised that Komodo Edit (free) and Komodo IDE (costs some) don’t make it into these lists. The interface is lovely, has macros, doc support etc and a nice plugin system.

    I use Komodo Edit with Zigversion on my mac, both are free and make for a great development environment.


  92. 92

    I’m usually using Netbeans, it’s great 99,9%, but the most basic of editors, linewrapping is missing! A constant annoyance. Still easier to use than Aptana imho.

  93. 93

    I went from using Dreamweaver to Zend Studio and I couldn’t be happier. There are so many features (too many to list) that made me fall in love with Studio. It has definitely improved my workflow and is easily worth the price.

  94. 94

    I used aptana back in mid june or so but dropped it because it seemed broke.
    I moved on to eclipse, but the extenisive setup process made my head twist and turn every time I formatted so I tried PDT for a change, but the PDT 1.0 (which was available at the time) didn’t really have a satisfactory array of features for me. I moved on to a NetBeans a few months ago and I’ve been there ever since. Especially the SVN controls are great for quickly diffing a file and viewing the log.

  95. 95

    This was a super helpful article! It would be a lot cooler if you had a reader poll so I could see which tool everybody else likes most. I think I’m going to go with NetBeans!

    Thanks for the awesomeness research!

  96. 96

    I was an Eclipse PDT user on Linux for a long time but in the last few months I’ve moved to Netbeans 6.5 for development. It’s more stable, less resource hungry and everything works out of the box (no need for Subversion or html/css plugins). Zend Studio is great but it’s only really worth stumping up the fee if you’re using Zend Platform. I’ll be sticking with Netbeans for the foreseeable future.

  97. 97

    Marcus Friedman

    February 12, 2009 4:23 pm

    Congratulations on your excellent article. I’ve found it really helpful (specially the thorough table comparing all of the tools feature by feature).

    Maybe it would be interesting to add a couple of tools to the analysis, since they might be useful for some developers:

    Delphi for PHP (already mentioned by Jan Doggen)
    CodeCharge Studio (not mentioned yet AFAICS)

    Thank you very much for sharing your research with all of us!

  98. 98

    emacs with php-mode all the way!

  99. 99

    Kate, svn and rsync have been my buddies for quite awhile. And I have been getting busier – thought an IDE could speed me up. I used one in my old Windows daze.
    I tried PDT, but it seems very heavy, and the docs are arcane. Little or no community for the newcomer.
    Aptana crashes on startup.
    Now I am trying Netbeans and getting someplace with it, It has a community too.
    I may have found a winner!

  100. 100

    You should make the headers sticky so that people don’t have to continuously return to the top to see which IDE is in which column… Nice comparisons though

  101. 101

    phpEdit 3.x is really the best editor out there. I don’t understand why u skipped it.

  102. 102

    NetBeans 6.5 has been a great discovery for me. I’ve tried Eclipse-based solutions as well as kicked the tires on some of the commercial offerings, but NetBeans is easier, faster, lighter and simply more enjoyable for me to use.

    I use the stable release for day-to-day work, but follow upcoming developments through their blog and NetBeans TV. Excellent documentation and videos.

  103. 103

    basen in this comparison, i begin thinking to try netbeans. basically, i’m an eclipse big lover. thanx for this big great comparison..

  104. 104

    “Still Notepad has one advantage over both Eclipse (including its derivatives Zend Studio and Aptana) and NetBeans: the freakin’ word-wrap functionality.”

    You best be joking. EVERY editor I’ve used has this, including NuShpere. Just do a little poking around.

  105. 105

    I will put another vote in for NetBeans. I switched over recently after trying (and buying!) Zend Studio, and then PDT. Netbeans is a lot lighter, faster and easier to configure. Works out of the box and has macro’s, and a lot lot more.

    Try NetBeans, it is free and open source

  106. 106

    just wanted to add that in fact nusphere phped does include smarty support – this is the big reason that I use it over anything else (besides the great tortoise integration) – need to figure out some more of the question marks for the others regarding smarty.

  107. 107

    I use Nupshere, and i dont think you have have realy tested it because some functionalites are missing. The best for me with a very good project manager.

  108. 108

    ha, which one is the best always be a hot topic.
    As my view, notepad++ is lightweight and fast tools when work in windows. It’s really good to me.
    When i in ubuntu, i use PDT and gedit to do php work. But i really want to find a more better IDE, eclipse based IDE really strong but also too big. I’ll try Netbeans after read this article.

  109. 109

    Debugging is not so critical in PHP because you can add echos or use something like FirePHP without even having to recompile your code

    You can add the equivalent of an echo in any server side language. Comparing an echo statement to debugging is like comparing chalk and chesse.

  110. 110

    That’s a great spreadsheet, but it can be made a lot better with a little color. I copied it and added a few “color background by content” rules. That feature can be found under Format > Change colors with rules…

    Rules I suggest are:
    Text contains “√”, make background green
    Text is exactly “-“, make background red/pink
    Text is exactly “?”, make background yellow

    I haven’t worked with PHP much, but it looks like Netbeans 7 has the most green.

  111. 111

    I’ve tried a lot of some mentioned in the comments and I’ll throw in a couple of cents about them. Just to make an intro, I am a heavy Eclipse fan, but right now I’m using NetBeans 6.5 due to some serious issues I encountered with it when trying to use the SFTP and SVN plugins.

    Dreamweaver: was my main tool for a long time and I like that I can do both code and design. However it lacks many serious features which I use: phpDoc comments (with templates), SVN, UML capabilities.

    Zend Studio: personally I hate the interface, it’s rather slow, convincing it to work with SVN was a headache.

    phpEdit: feels dated, code completion and remote connectivity barely work, no SFTP.

    phpDesigner 2006 & 2008: awfully slow, used for less than 10 minutes. I can’t describe how slow it feels compared to any of the others.

    PDT: would be very nice if it would work seamlessly when combined with that Remote plugin (which has SFTP). Also allows for remote SVN through svn+ssh if you’re willing to spend some extra effort. I tried it under Ubuntu and for some reason it became a slight headache. Worked much better under Windows but by that time I was already attached to NetBeans.

    Aptana: very nice, but no UML possibilities. I used to like it a lot, but at some point it crashed in a way that even after reinstalling it simply wouldn’t start after showing the splash screen.

  112. 112

    I’m using PDT 2, it supports SVN with the same methods as PDT 1 (Subversive/Subclipse plugins) as well as Mercurial with Mercurial plugin, it can use any db with Eclipse DTP, can use FTP/SFTP with same plugins as PDT1, and of course you can use ANT with PDT 2, with JSEclipse plugin you can use jQuery, prototype etc. js libraries in file editing, so it is strange that these functions marked missing in the comparison table…

  113. 113


    I use phpED, which I found very good! But it lacks the javascript IDE functionality, so I’m triing to get used to Aptana (and a linux also). For PHP works I tried Zend, but I found phpED much better.
    phpED can do code folding, and not just for functions, methods and other predefined statements, but for selection also! That is a very handy tool!

    BYE: TeeCee :o)

  114. 114

    having a quick look at the comparison table, i noticed that aptana has no IE debugger, witch is false if we talk about the studio pro version.

  115. 115


    I just want to say, great article. You actually got me to switch to NetBeans, but because the JavaScript support is far superior than Eclipse (PDT). Just to be able to have jQuery auto-completes is awesome!

    However, in your spreadsheet you mention wizards for Drupal modules, I was only able to find one plugin to do that, for version 6.5, and it crashed. So I don’t know if you were referring to this plugin or something else…

    Again, thanks!

  116. 116

    you forgot quanta plus. Its a great IDE, offers code completion, syntax highlighting, html/css support and easily rivals PDT

  117. 117

    Quanta, maybe, but it’s platform specific and requires KDE (can’t get it to run smoothly on my box with Gnome).

  118. 118

    Alexander Makarov

    February 13, 2009 8:29 am

    lo.j, that was very quick look ;) Aptana Pro is there also.

  119. 119

    I’m a professional PHP developer and I use phpDesigner, it’s great does everything I need it to!

  120. 120

    I have used notepad++ for most of my PHP needs over the years. I like how light weight and fast it is. I edit most of my PHP remotely from multiple machines so it is nice not to have any files locally to perform editing.

    After reading this article I tried NetBeans; wow slow! I like some of the features but I do not like the fact that it requires you download every file from the host machine when first building a project. I am going to stick with notepad++ and my trusty FTP client for now.

  121. 121

    Syed Ekramuddin

    February 13, 2009 12:13 pm

    For ultimate productivity, choosing any IDE would depend on some scopes.
    For large scale enterprise level PHP project i refer Zend Studio, Alternate ( Eclipse + PDT + Spket )
    For little PHP project (site, joomla, drupal) i refer Dreamweaver, Alternate whatever u like.

    Sometimes i like Leopard, Sometimes i like XP, and has a soft corner for Ubuntu

  122. 122

    Alexandre Plennevaux

    February 13, 2009 2:54 pm

    Amazing phpEdit was not included in this review. I’ve used it for 5 years now. I once in a while try out the competition, but I come back to phpedit each time because it simply works, launches fast, is highly configurable, is actively developed and nicely conceived.

  123. 123

    I use Dreamweaver for php editing. It has just about every feature the programs presented here have, so … I think it should be added.

  124. 124

    + for Netbeans. Awesome IDE

  125. 125

    netbeans is perfect.

  126. 126

    Aptana is the best, the greatest and a must-have!!!

  127. 127

    I’ve followed ur post..
    Dreamweaver sucks.. u r probably using it cuz thats what u only know..
    phpdesigner is brilliant..

    but i think u guys have convinced me to checkout netbeans

  128. 128

    Harry Slaughter

    February 15, 2009 12:52 am

    Absolutely shocking that Komodo is not listed here.

    Back when there weren’t many IDEs with PHP support, I checked out about 4 of them. Zend Studio was very nice but way to unstable and buggy.

    Komodo ended up being my choice. I’ve been pretty happy with it, although it can be complicated to configure and it doesn’t seem to import your project libraries very well into its code completion and awareness database.

    But what other IDE out there has pretty solid VI emulation? Hmmmm?


  129. 129

    Alexander Makarov

    February 15, 2009 10:49 am

    Harry Slaughter,

  130. 130

    Congratulations!! Excellent article!!
    I’m using Aptana Studio and Code Charge Studio, now. Don’t forget this IDEs:
    Delphi for PHP (already mentioned by Jan Doggen and Marcus Friedman) from Embarcadero/CodeGear
    CodeCharge Studio (already mentioned by Marcus Friedman) from YesSoftware.
    Thanks for your research!

  131. 131

    Thumbs up for Komodo…worth a look.

  132. 132

    Another +1 for Netbeans 6.5

    client-side debuggers, code compeltion for JS, PHP, CSS and HTML, the css designer is awesome and the auto-completion with documentation is great

    not to mention it is light-weight, without the overhead of an internal server and environment, you run and debug against your own server instance(s). 16MB download vs 350MB for Zend Studio, and it is *a lot* better, faster etc.

    one thing to edit in the comparison chart, Netbeans 6.5 actually does show you browser compatability in Javascript and CSS. In the options for a project, you can specify your target browsers/versions and it will filter methods based on your target platforms.

    Every PHP developer should download and at least try Netbeans

  133. 133

    Tayfun Öziş Erikan

    February 16, 2009 3:50 am

    I have very good support for Zend Framework Zend Studio Neon prefer. You know the code completion, refactoring, quick navigation between code. I find them useful for zend framework. At least you can feel more comfortable using OOP. Javascript support to strengthen and Ext-Js for the plan to use the plug-in installed on SkpetIDE. Thus was very delicious.

  134. 134

    Tayfun Öziş Erikan

    February 16, 2009 5:05 am

    Correction: My previous message was written SkpetIDE wrong. SpketIDE be correct spelling.
    Excuse me.

  135. 135

    I’m using a simple text editor mostly (“joe”, which has php syntax highlighting, too). Eclipse and it’s variants seem pretty fast nowadays. However, I still found it to be overkill for my projects.

    What’s irking me most about those IDEs, is that they create some “workspace” directory to put stuff. Till today, I can manage my projects (even the big ones) quite nicely without. And if the project files aren’t using any standardized file format – what’s the point?
    Moreover, does any of the newer IDEs support XDG_CONFIG_HOME instead of spamming my home directory?

  136. 136

    NetBeans is nice, i love the way i can navigate trought my classes from definition to usages. I think it’s the lightest JDK-Based tool, even if it takes more than a bit to start up.

    But i think that its way to manage project, expecially if they’re on remote server, isn’t smart at all. I really love the quickness i can reach by modifying files with Notepad++ (by the chance, does anybody know some IDE or similar for that text editor?)

  137. 137

    I have used many editor komodo ide/edit all eclipse based php editors but i think netbeans is the best. It has php support like a good ide should have db nav and what i like the most is the javascript support that beats all.

  138. 138

    PDT2 is the best. It has all nice features enough for php developers.

    >> Great PHP support – intellisense, outline and function finding, jump to function and variable defination, Bookmarks, great search feature, code folding, highlighting vairables, code formatting, code templates.

    >> Sufficient html support ( can be extended via plugins)

    >> Javascript coloring (JSeclipse could be nice plugin, havent use much though)

    >> SVN integration (subeclipse)

    >> todos @@todo

  139. 139

    As a professional PHP coder (meaning, getting paid to spend 8+ hours a day coding PHP), I’ve tried most PHP editors.

    By far, my favorite is Zend Studio 5.5 (not the Eclipse based Zend Studio!)

    – The editor looks great, and gives most of the room to the code, not to icons, toolbars, etc. Works great with HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
    – Fantastic debugging support. If you are a professional coder, you are going to be debugging, not using ‘echo’ statements. It is a lot faster to debug code watching variables than to enter echo statements where you ‘think’ the problem may be.
    – Word wrap, printing, etc, just plain work without any thinking required.
    – FTP/SFTP support. I code from multiple boxes pointing to my DEV box (before checking in the code). Zend Studio makes this simple.

    Zend has been pushing people towards Zend Studio 6, which is based on Eclipse. It makes sense for them as they can build upon the shoulders of an established product, however the end result is way inferior to their previous versions. SFTP crashes randomly, obscure error messages that won’t let you view the code in the editor, word wrap not built in, etc.

    Oh, and Zend Studio runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

    It’s a fantastic product, though I would say too expensive for the average coder. It’s geared towards the enterprise with a $500 per seat license.

  140. 140

    Creo que les faltó incluir el que según mi criterio es el mejor de todos:
    Una contra: su licencia es comercial, pero es el más completo de todos.

  141. 141

    First of all thank you for a great article!

    However, you miss some important PHP IDEs like phpDesigner see which also have a very strong code completion, syntax highlighting, realtime error checking, support for oop and a lot more!

    phpDesigner is one of my favorite tools :D

  142. 142
  143. 143

    I really like Aptana Studio, but it seriously has some speed problems with even moderately sized files.

    NetBeans 6.5 doesn’t seem to have word wrap so you’re stuck in horizontal scroll city. Big time fail.

  144. 144

    I found this compare table not include Unit Test part
    and miss VS.PHP IDE

  145. 145

    where is PHPDesigner?
    ps: moderator, pls remove the link if you consider this to be advertising. i’m on good intentions :)
    ps2: many thx for this article

  146. 146


    You miss new free very good PHP IDE – Codelobster PHP Edition
    It has also Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and Smarty plug-ins.


  147. 147

    No one seems to have mentioned database connection and browsing inside the IDE. I know Netbeans includes this, how about other IDEs?

  148. 148

    Mahmoud M. Abdel-Fattah

    April 10, 2009 12:41 am

    Where can I find Netbeans 7 ? I can’t find it anywhere !

  149. 149

    I like Zend Studio for its Analyze Code functionality but I like Komodo Edit better for the HTML and CSS syntax completion. Is there any plan for Komodo Edit to have that functionality?

  150. 150

    This article is really interesting.
    I found PHPEdit, this software is free for students or schools.

  151. 151

    I’m installing Aptana right now, I work both on windows and linux. In my windows machine, my choice it’s Notepad++ (I was using PSPad, but the fact the has not been updated in a very loooong time, made chance).
    But in linux I cant find something similar. I tried BlueFish, gphpEdit, jEdit and they were similiar, but not the same, BlueFish was almost the same, except I can’t see which text I selected when copying/pasting. I Tried PDT, and worked fine, but it gave me a lot of errors, when checking CSS code, and also it frooze really often.

    these are my 2 cents.

  152. 152

    komodo edit best for me.

  153. 153

    I know Notepad++ but I prefer Emeditor. It is commercial but cheap, the highest quality text editor I ever came across.
    I hated Ecliplse (big, bulky, complex, and I couldnt even get it to work). Im now using Codelobster for free (because of code completion and debugging… and price!) and will hopefully check Netbeans.

  154. 154

    I found, Netbeans is the best

  155. 155

    Awesome article ! and a great comparison. I’m a big fan of NetBeans IDE. You tested 6.5, but 6.7 is already out and it is the bomb I tell you !
    I’ve written a couple of words about NetBeans + PHP check it out
    And now the 6.8 release is coming and I’m anxiously waiting because it is supposed to have full Symfony support !
    Cheers :)

  156. 156

    Notepad++ is good for people who just want to keep it simple.. But, for slower computers the software always crashes..

  157. 157

    Another plug for PHPDesigner. Integrated FTP and SVN support – great highlighting – snippets – and now in V7 javascript / jquery code completion.

    Everyone has their needed requirements and mine must be pretty specific to me. I’ve tested all of the IDEs in this roundup and none compared to PHPDesigner. Great stuff.

  158. 158

    This is one of those articles that tells me exactly what I needed to know, cheers!!!

  159. 159

    Please, enjoy developing PHP with JetBrains WebIDE

  160. 160

    Why is phpDesigner not mention in this article??

    phpDesigner is without no doubt my favorite PHP IDE and PHP editor and with the new release phpDesigner 7 its now also my preferred HTML, CSS and JavaScript editor! – check it out at

    It rocks!!!

  161. 161

    Jonathan Hale

    October 14, 2009 2:18 am

    It should be noted that “Netbeans 7” was renamed to “Netbeans 6.7” after this article was published. It might clear up a lot of confusion if that was corrected in the comparison table. I was driven slightly mad for a while trying to find the fabled “Netbeans 7.”

  162. 162

    Aptana PHP has word-wrap and SFTP support. I’m sold…

  163. 163

    Three things I have been looking for from an IDE.

    1. Multi-line search (text area, not a text field)
    2. Line ending control – I work between windows/mac and linux os’s depending on where I am coding so changing the line endings is a pain. (CR-LF etc)
    3. Open Source

    Netbeans has neither of the first 2, but other than that its great, dreamweaver has the 1st 2 but not the 3rd, if others could let me know of anything that comes close to netbeans, but has all three ticks, I would be grateful.

  164. 164

    G- I think Notepad++ may have what you are after.
    I am after a PHP ide that has intellisense autocompletion for PHP and javascript (as well as complete js evt handlers, e.g. a built-in bible) does such a thing exist?

  165. 165

    I am working with Activestates Komodo Pro and am very sytisfied with it. Stable, intuitive and offers all the IDE features that I expect. The Light version is for free.

  166. 166

    Any IDE written entirely on Java is slow. I am not blaming Java. In use Aptana Studio and notice that the Intelli-Sense is slow when compared to Visual Studio, still Aptana is a very good IDE. I am sad that have recently withdrawn support for PHP.

    NetBeans is very slow if you don’t have that chunk of RAM it needs, but it’s user-friendliness is remarkable.

  167. 167

    I’ve tried almost all of them, and PhpED is by far the best of those I’ve tried.

    Unfortunately I moved to Mac and now can’t use PhpED natively. Looking for something that comes close to PhpED, but haven’t found it yet.

  168. 168

    I was pretty happy with zend studio 6. Great for oo. Saw coda on mac, and it seems to have all the features I’m after. Also more visually pleasing. Used aptana for a while, but dropped it. After reading this article, I’m thinkin beans! But will download all the free ones and put them to the test. This is a great resource! Will post my final decision.

  169. 169

    Intresting article! I almost wasted 400 $ on an editor which has less features that some free counterparts. I’ll try some of the editors mentoined here before i consider buying Zend Studio. Netbeans 6.8 is the first one I’ll try.

  170. 170

    I really prefer Espresso for Mac. Very simple but with many hidden features.
    Also I love code snippets

  171. 171

    I’m agreed with Warren Zend Studio 5.5 was the best, the following version are really not good !
    I tried NetBean 6.8 and Zend Studio 7, they don’t have a FTP Browser !!! That is a real mistake in my opinion.

  172. 172

    Vote for PHPDesigner 7…
    it’s rock!!!!
    the best PHP Editor that I ever tried.
    before that i’ve been using adobe dreamweaver, NuSphere, etc.
    but after I know PHPDesigner, I don’t wanna try another editor.

  173. 173

    I vote for Textmate!

  174. 174

    You are forgot Nusphere Phped
    Very useful and fast IDE.

  175. 175

    Thanks, everyone, for all the mentions of different IDE tools and text editors in the article and especially comments. I spent a couple hours carefully clicking over to the Google to search for every one. If it helps, I’ve collected 26 or 27 of them here with links on a resource page on my site:

    If it does not help, feel free to delete. I won’t be offended.

  176. 176

    I do all my development on a Mac, and I’m fortunate to have quite a few options, most of them discussed here. And, at one point in time I’ve tried them all. ZDE and Nusphere are both commercial products and offer quite nice features, but they are ridiculously priced for the individual plus a bump cost to you when they do an reasonable upgrade.

    I highly disagree with Dave regarding Aptana Studio. The 1.5 version (superceded by the 2.0 version) had very good PHP IDE support, with all the major features, including database connections. The footprint on my system is around 260MB which isn’t that bad at all for a full featured IDE.

    Compare this with Netbeans 6.8 that has major memory leak problems. It loads (in 32-bit mode) in around 170MB, once our connect the database and load up a couple of PHP files, your footprint is at around 380MB and climbing every second. In a half hour, it had consumed over 500MB. That, for me was totally unacceptable.

    Coda (MAC only) is a nice little IDE, but it’s stretching it to call it that. There are very few features to justify the $100 price tag. It feels more like a shareware product that should sell for $19.99. Considering the free options, excluding Coda is a no brainer.

    In the new Aptana Studio 2.0 the PDT 2.0 tools are available as a plug in but I have not tried that.

  177. 177

    hi,there i want to know what the most recomanded editor of php language
    i realy become confiouse.pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
    i need some one to tell me.

  178. 178

    what is the main editor we can use with php language?
    and what is the main fields that php language used in?
    alexander makarov i want you to tell me.plzzzzzzz.

  179. 179

    I’ve tried every editor listed above, over years of time.

    I just want a simple, basic, fast editor that will simply jump to class/function definition and normal find + regex ability. Every single editor listed above fails in one way or another. Most crash and are total junk.

    SlickEdit is the one I’ve come to use, but it’s so goddamn huge and ridiculously complex — but it does work. It works with UNC style (\serversharedirfile.txt) over an encrypted VPN to the server. It’s very flexible. It uses the server’s dir structure. Its class/function jump works. It does wordwrap (a 1980’s function, STILL missing in idiotic garbage like eclipse and Netbeans and everything built on that “technology”). The only thing is, slickedit is goddamn complex. It tries to be too smart, for example, forcing xdebug to be used in a “PHP” project (though an “other” type of project can be used, disabling the debugger but not losing any other features I’ve noticed — idiotic in its own right; why not just let me turn off that goddamn debugger?)

    UltraEdit can’t do class/function jumps without some idiot thing called ctags.exe, which doesn’t apparently accept UNC style names, or else UltraEdit doesn’t correctly publish UNC style file names to the ctags.exe command line. Who knows how they’ve screwed all that up. Notepad++ is the same story.

    EditPadPro, otherwise excellent, doesn’t do class/function jumps at all and seems to have no plans to… What a shame, it was my total favorite until I found SlickEdit.

    phpEd, PDT, and all those other lame-ass apps with the name “php” anywhere in their name are, sweepingly, total garbage, waste of time.

    Anything from Oracle comes fsk’d, so forget about netbeans, anything from sun, and, as soon as they can manage to screw it up, MySQL too.

    Zend is a joke. Come on. If anyone could have and should have done it right, it was them. But they are driven by greed or something else.

    Seriously, it’s 2010 and still no one has correctly hit the right mix. There are now millions of PHP programmers. Where is the killer app for PHP devs???

  180. 180

    I have used vsphp and it is amazing. It does all of the features above along with an awesome deployment options. It has really good context highlighting and it has great auto completion. You guys should really add it to your chart..!!


  181. 181

    Dreamweaver?!! You must be kidding. The only use of the Dreamweaver in PHP development is to implement MJE* design pattern.
    * Mumble Jumble Echo design pattern aka. spaghetti code

  182. 182

    I’ve been a big Eclipse / PDT fan but on my newest PC it gives huge problems when you have your workspace on a shared samba drive (it gets very slow). Anyone experience with a good free ide that works well with workspaces on a share ?

    P.S.: I know it’s not best practice but it’s what I need to have my dev on a server conig that mimics my live server and be able to use drush.

  183. 183

    Who added Coda to the list? Can they give me the comparison with Coda in it? I want to see how it compares to the others

  184. 184

    I’ve been using NuSphere PhpEd for a long time. A had to switch to aptana for javascript editing from time to time. Looks like phpDesiner has support for javascript (with libraries like jquery, mootools, dojo, prototype etc) as well. I’ll give phpDesiner a try. if this page is true ( then its the one I’m looking for!

  185. 185

    WOW!!! I am sure that in your opinion PHP itself is nothing more than garbage. :)

  186. 186

    We at JetBrains have just released (27. May) our new IDE for Php – PhpStorm. It has smart refactoring and code generation capabilities, PhpUnit integration, VCS-integration and also understands very good Javacript, CSS and HTML.

  187. 187

    Sumeet Chawla

    June 7, 2010 10:23 am

    yea, but if you use html in the code also well and the page is not a completely valid page with header and doc tags then it just underlines the code as an error and just makes the page heavy! But I like Expression web a lot as an xhtml editor. Its lighter than dreamweaver anyday

  188. 188

    Sumeet Chawla

    June 7, 2010 10:37 am

    Great article and an equally great discussion :) So am gonna go with Netbeans. Lets see how it works out.

  189. 189

    Abhishek Dilliwal

    June 15, 2010 2:01 am

    I have been using PDT since 2 years and it makes life just simple!

  190. 190

    I was under the impression that the programmer controls the code flow. If you’re relying on your “IDE” to code for you – what does that say about you?
    Dreamweaver is nothing more than a tool. If you sit there in code view and craft well thought-out code – how does that make it a weak tool?
    I, probably unlike most others here, find very little use in an IDE and get along just fine (and quite profitably) with dreamweaver.

  191. 191

    this comparison looks unfair to me, as it focus on eclipse derivative and does not show what’s most important for a developper: THE DEBUGGER QUALITY AND MODE (internal, remote, etc)
    I think things like syntax highlight are quite usual, so no need to mention.
    but completion can not work properly because of some complex construction.
    Navigation too is important (jumping by a ctrl+mouse to the content of a method).
    And my own evaluation is that NuSphere is by far the strongest, especially the debugger.

  192. 192

    Additionnaly: phped Debugger works for 4 & 5 strait after nusphere install.
    no further donwload & setup and so on.

    (you can work on projects php4 based or php5 based at the same time)

  193. 193

    Another IDE to add to the list:

  194. 194

    Netbean’s Refactor > Rename function does not do the job. It renames into the current file, but not in the whole project. For example, if a rename a method defined in a script, other scripts still call this method with the former name…

  195. 195

    i m looking for formal article for IDE comparison, which can act as an reference in my degree thesis. i have spent whole day, still cannot find ant, any idea where can i find those article ? thank you very very much

  196. 196

    I use the free version of Aptana. I code in different server side languages + I use a lot of AJAX tools – so it works best for me.

    Great job with the comparison!

  197. 197

    My vote to PHPDesigner 7, the best!

  198. 198

    I don’t feel this article is complete. You have only mentioned Java based IDE’s. In my opinion – maybe not an IDE – but must have is PSPad, fast and furious. For bigger projects I recommend Netbeans which I find slightly faster than overblown Eclipse based editors. But my final vote goes to PHPDesigner – becuase it is NOT writen in Java and you can feel it.

  199. 199

    Naveen P Suthar

    November 25, 2010 11:05 pm


    Article….!!!! skipped many IDEs but overall….. hmmmm, it is a Good Stuff….

    I ‘ve been using Aptana Studio for PHP, strict xhtml 1.0 and CSS… It is bundled with good features for IDE development……. **** It Rocks ****

  200. 200

    Im looking for some IDE with static code analysis, mostly i want to see where my functions are called from. As for IDES, Im usign aptana, just because the javascript and css support. But is a lil bit slow and also have some bugs, I tried Zend 8.0 like for one day, is fast as hell but for some reason it doesnt search files like aptana ( that kinda suck in searching) . well nobody beats Dreamweaver in the search area.

  201. 201

    Aptana / Eclipse / Netbeans / jEdit / PHPStorm are written in Java.
    This means that they way slower then your regular c/c++ program. Try to open Notepad++ and those editors and see how long it is gonna take.

    I really miss Notepad++ in Linux. there is truly no real replacement.

  202. 202

    Notepad ++ for Widows get’s my vote

  203. 203

    I’ve used Notepad ++, Dreamweaver, Eclipse, Netbeans, and a few others. At the end of the day for small to medium projects PHP Developer 7 is my favorite. It has the snappiness of Notepad ++ with the added features of the big guys. I have a fast computer and it annoyed me how sluggish all the Java based IDEs are. I love the fact that Eclipse is free bug it is just sluggish at times. PHP Developer is snappy and relatively inexpensive. Perfect choice as far as I am concerned.

  204. 204

    I’m also surprised that Komodo is not here!

    I’ve tested much more “IDE”‘s than you before i liked Komodo.
    I’m using Komodo Edit since i switch to Ubuntu, and i came to this article searching in Google to find if it deserves to switch to Komodo IDE – the paid version with debugging and version control.

  205. 205

    Don’t you mean phpDesigner 7? instead of php developer 7….

  206. 206

    Hey, awesome review here. Thank you so much for the hard work you put in to create this VERY informative blog. based on what I’ve read, I’m going to try the Netbeans 7.0 development version (or whatever their latest release is). I’ve been looking for a new PHP IDE and your review was spot on with the guidance I needed.

  207. 207

    hello i am new in php and i need help of the developers i cannot been able 2 develop anything in php plz can any 1 help me i will be really thank ful to him.

  208. 208

    Wow, some people here in the comments really don’t seem to understand the difference between an IDE and an Editor…

  209. 209

    Checking in to see if there’s been any new developments in the PHP IDE world since this post was started 2 years ago.

  210. 210

    Nice unbiased article. Some people have said that Aptana is a bit slow, this might be the case but I love the fact that it has support for html, css, javascript, php and you can also install the Andriod SDK for developing Andriod Apps. It also has the built in browser, FTP and the built in server is great for quick testing. Everything you need for web development in one program.
    I’ve also managed to make it into a portable version that you can put on a USB drive, I’ve got video tutorial on my website.

  211. 211

    I’m just starting out with PHP, using one of Larry Ullman’s books to get started. Not completely new to PHP but am looking to really dig a lot deeper into PHP development. This article was very helpful in deciding what IDE to use. Netbeans seems pretty good so will be giving that a try.

  212. 212

    André Tannús

    April 22, 2011 9:11 am

    This table is priceless.

    You’re missing GIT for netbeans though, available through nbgit. Too bad the table was vandalised, otherwise I’d add it myself. Use it all the time, can’t live without it.

  213. 213

    Great resource! Thanks. BTW – Netbeans 7 (maybe 6 as well) supports SMARTY through the PHP Smarty Framework plug-in. (It’s listed as “?” in the doc)

  214. 214

    Can you make the top row a heading, so we can see which column is for which IDE even after scrolling down.

  215. 215

    Don’t forget Nusphere’s PhpED
    It is made exclusively for PHP development, not a hack like Netbeans or Eclipse.

  216. 216

    Great article. Thanks.

  217. 217

    Nice one.

    I switched to NetBeans after version 7.0 has been released. It’s faster, more lightweight and code completion is better. Its easier to configure and looks like everithing just works, in Eclipse you need to deal with complex configuration, and I wanted to focus on coding. But they are both good.

    I compared Eclipse and NetBeans on

  218. 218

    Edison Victorino

    June 7, 2011 10:57 pm

    Thanks for the post. I was supposed to abandon my project in php and use instead because I thought that I have to do manual coding in php. Good thing i found your posts it gave me an idea what IDE to use

  219. 219

    Very good article.
    I am currently using Netbeans 7.
    But always looking for around for other IDEs.
    For free, Netbeans is the best for my php needs.

  220. 220

    I agree with @gawibowo, @Warren and @zzarbi. Zend Studio 5.5 is the best out there! It is so fast, comfortable and doesn’t slow down your pc. In addition, its an awesome environment for great php developers.

    In my company, the developers were using NetBeans and other IDEs but when they tried my Zend Studio they all moved to it and uninstalled NetBeans! I guess I made a Zend 5.5 revolution for my team :-)

  221. 221

    I agree with @gawibowo, @Warren and @zzarbi. Zend Studio 5.5 is the best out there! It is so fast, comfortable and doesn’t slow down your pc. In addition, its an awesome environment for great php developers.

    In my company, the developers were using NetBeans and other IDEs but when they tried my Zend Studio they all moved to it and uninstalled NetBeans! I guess I made a Zend 5.5 revolution for my team :-)

  222. 222

    childish on fiverr

    November 26, 2011 10:02 am

    informative writing.keep it up for new php learner.

  223. 223

    hey thanks for sharing such a nice information.

    Dhanesh Mane

  224. 224

    Netbeans is hands down the best. End of discussion.

  225. 225

    NetBeans is my favorite as well. However, I’ve run into issues with large projects where the re-indexing causes a lot of lag in the IDE. It’s actually quite unbearable.

    When the project is too large for NetBeans (bummer), I use RapidPHP. It’s not as full-featured, but it’s fast and stable.

    And for quick stuff, Vim and Notepad++ :D

  226. 226

    An outstanding read, thank you. It is obtaining harder and harder to sift via all the garbage on the internet these days.

  227. 227

    Ariyadi Kartosetomo

    February 28, 2012 5:53 pm

    How about Dreamweaver and Expression?

  228. 228

    I love Zend studio 5.5 but for some reason it stopped loading! I couldn’t get it load again after trying a few things so I upgraded to Zend 9 and that is slow as hell and complicated, got sick of it so trying Netbeans now

  229. 229

    Abbas Hashemian

    April 13, 2012 1:49 pm

    I’m still a beginner but I have a little experience of working with:
    * 1.5 year Teamwork on MSVS 2008 and 2010 for ASP.NetC# (the most powerful IDE through the world)

    * Notepad++ (many years ago) : light Code Viewer for the check time (many languages are supported). light but very weak. Actually it’s not an IDE

    * Zend Studio – 7.2.0 : very huge and heavy with a lot of chaff tools but actually it’s not more powerful than phpDesigner or NetBeans. Zend Studio just makes our eyes bothered and our system heated.

    * NetBeans IDE 7.1.1 : (multi-project at a time) GOOD GOOD GOOD + more formal and legal and arranged but not so friendly
    :))) express db panel (like to MSVS) with ready drivers for MySQL + JDBC + ODBC + Oracle OCI&Thin + PostgreSQL
    :))) err-less intellisense with ability for auto-placing function arguments
    :)) intellisense’s items are designated by file’s path and a good preview of elements documentation
    :)))) auto code completion support that is powerfully customizable
    :))) Scopefully element usage highlight is supported.
    :) Go to declaration place supported.
    :))))) Powerful Multi-project management and external included library and internal excluded directory.
    :))))) POWERFUL filtering capability for List of all TODOs and errors and issues and hudson TODOs through all of the project.
    :))))) Powerful code auto-formating. Reordering the complicated code
    :))) Panels are powerful
    :((( In a compare with phpDesigner we find out the toolbar of Netbeans is weak
    :(((( Code coloring is not so friendly and can make our eyes confused. And color customization is very detailed without ready themes.

    * PHPDesigner (7 & 8) : (single project at a time) GOOD GOOD GOOD + more flexible and friendly with a lot of essential tools but not so arranged
    :( No express db panel
    :))) Internal light browser panel with hotkey to open phpMyAdmin over http
    :)))) Normal intellisense that powerfully lists any thing and any thing of your php libraries and codes.
    :((( intellisense problem : sometimes keeps removed elements and also lists the elements of files openned from out of project
    :)) intellisense’s items are designated by file’s path and a simple preview of elements documentation
    :)) auto code completion support that is customizable not in a powerful manner
    :)))))) Code coloring is VERY FRIENDLY and our eyes can’t be confused. I Never try to customize the perfect default code colors but code customization is not detailed.
    :))) Non-scopefully(code globally) element usage highlight is supported just when we select the word(added to v8).
    :) Go to declaration place supported.
    :)) Good single-project management and external included library and internal excluded pattern.
    :) List of TODOs and errors …. through the project is very simple.
    :))) Powerful toolbar against to Netbeans
    :((( Panels are weak
    :(((((( code auto-formating is very weak and even makes the code deformed

    PHPDesigner has a powerful background for getting better : I had some contacts with Mr.Michael Pham(MPSOFT owner) for improving phpDesigner7.x and fortunately I could see some of my ideas with phpDesigner8 however still there are many requested improvement points.
    You can contact with Mr.Michael Pham he’s a good boy(man) with friendly and lovely behaviors in social contacts and lives in denmark.

  230. 230

    Christopher Thomas

    April 22, 2012 8:29 am

    hi guys,

    I moved esftp to github, I noticed it was linked to from here and people are hitting my domain when they should go straight there, I thought I would drop by and let you know the correct address


  231. 231

    This thread started in early 2009, and now it’s mid-2012. Time for a fresh look at the current PHP IDE versions?

    My priority of interests is (0) no or low cost, (1) debugging, (2) cross-platform operation (Windows, Linux, iOS, Android), (3) version-control integration, (4) nice development aids (syntax highlighting, code folding, variable cross-referencing, standards compliance checking etc. for Web work), (5) support for PHP alternatives, such as Java.

    I wonder how other users prioritize the IDE feature list. I wonder if it’s all over the map, or if users tend to “clump together” into a few recognizable categories.

  232. 232

    I have used CodeCharge Studio for several years, and while there are some things it doesn’t do as well as other systems (visual design, etc.), I love that with a few mouse clicks it will create a complete CRUD form from a table. Are there other IDEs that do that well?

  233. 233

    Pretty creepy comparsion since author’s first step is to determine criteria (that part was succesfuly completed) and the second part is to show comparsion chat, based on chosen criteria (this part was succesfuly failed) – wanna see integration with SVN part as depicted in article

  234. 234

    No doubt vim and emacs are very powerful editors out there.
    * I’m hardcore Vim user

  235. 235

    PLEASE lock the first row of the comparison spreadsheet! It would be nice to not have to memorize what each column represents while scrolling

  236. 236
  237. 237

    Good article, but this page is huge!!!!

    My MacBookPro got the spinning wheel trying to open this.

  238. 238

    @Jim that article: is very very poor: the translation to English is very poor (e.g. Visible C++) and the article content lacks substance: For example Visual Studio Express is listed as a PHP development environment (I don’t believe it is, if I’m not mistaken) but no specific mention of using PHP, no examples, no case studies.

  239. 239

    This article is of limited use: If you tested the debugger in each of these IDEs then why did you not provide the detailed precise steps to setup each to do debugging? In particular remote debugging which I believe all the applications mentioned are capable of.

    Remote debugging (whereby the PHP code under development is running on a separate server is debugged via the IDE) is fairly common practice as the code is running in its true environment on the server. However, it can be tricky to setup as there are several steps with certain configuration changes to the server and in the IDE itself. Clearly defining the starting point, requirements and assumptions before doing this configuration and then going on to providing such debugger setup steps, precisely, to do the setup would have made this article much more valuable.

  240. 240

    There are at least 2 debuggers that aren’t PHP or Open Source, lame!

  241. 241

    awesome information … i’m using aptana studio

  242. 242

    I’ve started my project with sublime editor which is pretty cheap and has really great features but when I’ve discovered phpstorm is much better. It has almost everything integrated so you don’t even need to use any external tools. Also it’s always up to date with the latest PHP so it’s really easy and much faster now to provide code to my customers. So based on my knowledge phpstorm is one of the best on the market and I can really recommend this software.

  243. 243

    Gilberto Meléndez

    February 8, 2014 6:12 am

    IMHO a very good IDE is Komodo of ActiveState, with some add ons like Emmet that generates HTML from CSS syntax, very useful. I will like to see it in the comparison table.

  244. 244

    Very Nice and helpful article but you should advise some any IDE for beginners.

  245. 245

    Just wanted to note something about the Dreamweaver comment/response in the article.

    There are actually some good reasons to use Dreamweaver even if you plan to forgo its WYSIWYG features. I use it myself and never go near the WYSIWYG part — because that end of it is rather limited and buggy (which is probably more of a testament to how infeasible WYSIWYG web editing truly is, but that’s another discussion).

    Firstly, it’s easy to set up. I’ve actually never even used Netbeans or PHPStorm for any real length of time, because once you want to set up something beyond basic text editing, there is a massive learning curve aided by documentation that is designed to prevent the user from finding out how things are actually accomplished. Whereas, Dreamweaver could be set up by a very smart monkey.

    Even though WYSIWYG is Dreamweaver’s primary selling point, its code editor is actually one of the best out there. Aside from the syntax highlighting being impeccable out of the box* (see Sublime Text note below), it also consistently and quickly highlights code problems live in HTML, PHP, and JS (probably others too, but these are my areas).

    Sublime Text is easiER on the setup end of things than some of the behemoths, but it’s no Dreamweaver. I actually think Sublime Text is the most impressive piece of software engineering I’ve ever seen run on a Windows machine, but it still lacks some things that make me cry as it’s otherwise so outside-the-box awesome. In the default scheme, some important syntax highlighting is missing, notably mixed PHP/HTML that is blended too vigorously. There are downloadable schemes that fix this, but again, Dreamweaver has it right out of the box. The live checks for broken code also don’t seem to be there in Sublime. Neither is HTML tag auto-closing (though there’s a pretty good plugin for that). FTP is also not in the box by default, and the plugins available for it are not as full-featured.

    Dreamweaver’s on-screen tool views are also highly customizable as well as thorough. Sublime Text is a wee bit set in its ways — the sidebar won’t move an inch, for example, and god help you if you need it to be on the right side instead of the left. The file browser it contains works in a very cool way (like everything else in Sublime), but is far from full-featured, and the available plugins are lacking. Every element of Dreamweaver can be dragged and plopped down anywhere, and they contain every conceivable operation you could want to perform.

    Dreamweaver’s “Live” view is… well, ok, not outstanding… but no one else really has it in a locally-installed package; and it’s revoltingly easy to set up. Point it at a local testing server (after MAYBE five to seven lines of configuration) and you get an instantly updated browser view next to your code, even server-side code with PHP and database queries, without the need to switch to and refresh an actual browser.

    I could go on. I know it sounds like I’m a Dreamweaver fanboy, but as another commenter said (about something else), I merely believe it to be the “least-bad” option. The price is the most notable put-off, but there are also bug and stability issues.


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