Sjoerd Maessen blog

PHP and webdevelopment

IDE roundup, 10 reasons why every PHP developer should try Netbeans

with 7 comments

A few months I have been looking for my ultimate PHP editor and now I finally found one! I’ve worked with a number of IDEs:
  • Eclipse PDT / Aptana with PHP Plugin
  • Zend Studio 6
  • Zend Studio 7
  • Notepad++
  • NuSphere PHPED
All of above editors just couldn’t satisfy my wishes.

Eclipse PDT / Aptana
I had heard a lot of good things about the IDE, but from the first time you open it, it just doesn’t feel like a PHP editor. Too many things are missing, luckily there are a lot of plug-ins available. But after installing and customizing you just felt that this wasn’t the solution I was looking for. The plug ins made that I had 3 different dialogs to search for files in my project.
+ a lot of (useful) plug ins
+ a big community
+ open-source
+ a lot of features and customization options
– not stable, for example if you are working on file that are located on a network drive and the network became busy Eclipse lost his connection and I was redirected to my desktop.
– much time needed to customize the IDE to my wishes (installing plug-ins, changing settings,…)
– slow (multiple projects at once opened or a big project)
– workspace out of sync error messages when I quickly edited a file outside my Eclipse environment. They really started to annoy me

Zend Studio 6+7
Zend Studio is a popular IDE among PHP developers. My first experience was with version 6, first it was ok, then after working with it for a couple of days it was horrible, a lot of crashes and very slow. Zend Studio 7 seemed to be a lot better but still not perfect. Also the fact that users who bought Zend Studio 6 didn’t get a free upgrade disappoints me, Zend Studio 6 just wasn’t production ready when it was released.
+ interface felt smooth because of animations
+ integration with Zend Server
+ good re-factoring options
+ unit testing
– all issues that also occurred in Eclipse
– expensive, no free Zend Studio 7 update for Zend Studio 6 users
A comparison between Zend Studio and Eclipse can be found here. Note: the comparison is made by Zend, a lot of the features that Zend Studio supports out of the box can be made available in Eclipse by installing the correct plugins.

Notepad ++
This is just a great little program! It’s fast, small, easy to use and very expendable but just not a PHP editor to use as main IDE.
+ fast
+ free
+ expendable
– a lot of time needed to find, install and configure the plugins you need to make it a fully featured PHP IDE. (code formatting, auto completion,… basic stuff)
– difficult to use as all in one editor, other programs needed for easy debugging/profiling.

NuSphere PHPED
I tried this IDE for a day of three, I just couldn’t get it stable, that was the main reason for me to remove it from my pc. It felt very good at the beginning though.
+ very good and intelligent auto-correction
+ IDE feels fast
+ not too expensive
– most unstable IDE in the test, also tried the installation on an other pc.
– no font choice for the code
– no code formatter, extra application polystyle needed
– highlighting all occurrences of a string in a file not possible

This is my absolute favorite, it just works! Besides that the editor is the number one for editing PHP, it also has great support for html, css and javascript. Netbeans gives warnings if you use code that isn’t supported for the target browsers for you project. This is not a real characteristic for a good PHP editor but hey, every developer needs to type some html or javascript from time to time and Netbeans rocks in the support of those languages!

10 reasons/characteristics why you should tryout the Netbeans IDE
  1. It is reliable
  2. It is fast
  3. It is free, open source
  4. The development team listens to the community wishes
  5. It is always up to date, lot of updates, quick response on bugs
  6. The GUI is simple yet powerful
  7. It has great auto-completion for PHP and client-side languages
  8. Powerful profiling and debugging capabilities (XDebug, PHPUnit, Selenium)
  9. There are a lot of useful plug-ins available to connect with JIRA, Subversion or plugins providing autocompletion for Symfony framework for example.
  10. Has advanced code editing features

It will only take 5 minutes to get you running, not a real waste of time is it? In my next blog post I will give some Netbeans tips/advices to speedup the development process.

Written by Sjoerd Maessen

December 8th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Posted in IDE

Tagged with , , , ,

7 Responses to 'IDE roundup, 10 reasons why every PHP developer should try Netbeans'

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  1. Ok, you convinced me to give Netbeans a new try.

    At work and home I use Eclipse and am quite pleased with it.

    I tried Netbeans about a year ago and was very pleased with it too. But not fully supporting PHP was my reason to abandon it.




    8 Dec 09 at 6:56 pm

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  3. Hi,

    I have used NetBeans for some time but switched to Eclipse just because NetBeans was to slow for me. How did you end up with a ‘fast’ version 😉

    But sure give NetBeans a try, but there is just no IDEAL IDE I believe. Always missing a feature here or there…

    Leonard Dronkers

    24 Feb 10 at 8:51 am

  4. I love PDT+Aptana and have been using it for a few years at least. Can you be more specific about it being unstable and what plug-ins you needed to fill the gap? I think there is a learning curve with eclipse and a lot of people don’t get over it. I cant see what would be missing for you. The code complete is absolutely awesome, especially if you are using OOP style code. I use aptana for javascript and html editing, although this isn’t required its just what I am used to. Zend Debugger + PDT is also very powerful. BTW I am now using the latest PDT2.2.


    22 Sep 10 at 10:10 pm

  5. Take a look at phpStorm. It’s based on a Java IDE called IntelliJ and it’s pretty darn good. Costs a bit of money though not nearly as much as Zend Studio.

    Larry Zoumas

    6 Oct 10 at 7:14 am

  6. News. Today

  7. News. Today


    22 Oct 10 at 6:05 am

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