phpDesigner 2008: More than Just a PHP IDE

phpDesignerIf people ask me who are the best developers of IDE’s (Integrated Development Environment) then I have to say that hand’s down its Microsoft. For me, nothing compares with the ease of use of their Visual Studio Platform. Not to mention the responsiveness it has when running in the Windows Platform.

No matter how people try to portray them as the evil empire, I have to admit, that they make great software tools that increase productivity and reduce programmer stress by allowing you to finish your job much faster while burning less brain cells.

Imagine my dilemma now when I switched to the PHP language, which is an open source scripting language. Since it is open source, tendency is that there are a lot of 3rd party IDE’s made from which to choose from. Some of which are free and some of which aren’t. But the free one’s usually lack the features and enhancements that I’ve grown used to in a full fledged commercial IDE.

The great thing with commercial IDE’s for open source products is that they are usually cheaper to buy compared to closed source products. Below $100 you can already get a good IDE packed with features to increase your productivity and make code writing and debugging easier.

After sifting through a lot of PHP IDE’s the IDE of choice for me was phpDesigner by MPSoftware. I’ve been using it since it first came out in 2005. I’ve tried all the rest but I found some of them to be too buggy, bloated (especially if running on the java engine) or just too memory intensive.

As a VB application developer I was spoiled with Visual Studio’s ease of use. Features which I’ve taken for granted in VS such as code completion and syntax highlighting hit me like a brick wall when I changed IDE’s. Not to mention that all too important debugging feature of step-by-step walk through.

Most of these features in VS I’ve found once again in phpDesigner. With PHP’s C like syntax I’ve also come to appreciate very much the open bracket highlighting feature of the IDE which identifies un-closed brackets as well as the start and end bracket of function’s scope.

phpDesigner also supports Xdebug which is a PHP extension that gives more information when debugging your script as well as better code profiling. Features that Xdebug allows are code step through during debugging.

Another feature I can’t live without is the FTP module which makes code uploading easier as it’s already built-in with the IDE. No more stopping to have to open an FTP program when uploading code.

Most of the features that they have are already present in competing IDE’s, but what still keeps me a loyal user is the fact that it has a low memory footprint and doesn’t act sluggishly when I have too many code pages open.

Object Oriented Programming (OOP) Support has long been added to the phpDesigner ever since the first version. Allowing for easier code viewing of classes, methods and other objects in your OOP code. This will come in handy to when using one of the many popular PHP frameworks which is revolutionizing the way we code with PHP today.

Another great thing about phpDesigner is that it can also be used to code other C syntax like programs. Such as Javascript, Java, and C#. It also offers Syntax highlighting for SQL, HTML/XHTML, CSS, VBscript, Perl, Python and Ruby.

Full Feature List of this IDE can be found here. You can also download a trial version of the software which you can use for a set number of days. They also have a Top Ten List of why you should use phpDesigner as your IDE.

The only thing I hate about this IDE though, is that they don’t have a version for Linux.

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  • on linux I use kate editor. there’s also komodo but anything that uses xul for windowing (e.g. firefox) tend to crash unexpectedly.

  • Since PHPDesigner doesn’t run in Linux I use Geany instead.

    Thanks for the tip Kates!, I’ll check that out too. 😀

  • Jao

    would be great if they had a version for mac. I use dreamweaver but lately i feel bloated while developing with it.

    I agree completely, Visual Studio is hands down one of the best IDEs’ around.

  • You can’t really say an IDE is hands down better than others since editors are based on preference. Many people still use vi and emacs, and probably use it better than others who use graphical IDEs. It’s logical to think MS would create good IDEs for their own platforms and languages, but it would be a stretch to say so for other languages. Python being my choice of language, Wingware’s IDE > any MS IDE, with Python addons.

    Also, many of the features that PHPDesigner has, other editors have. I especially like Eclipse, phpEd, and even Netbeans. Eclipse and Netbeans of course will need the freely downloadable PHP components.

  • Hi vern!,

    Thanks for your comment.

    If you check paragraph 1, it says: ” If people ask me “, to state that this is a personal opinion with regards to who makes the best IDE.

    While paragraph 10 states: “Most of the features that they have are already present in competing IDE’s”, acknowledging that PHPDesigner’s features are already common fare.

    Cheers!

    😀

  • Paul Pestolante

    PHP Designer was built with DELPHI. An underrated IDE from now CodeGear/Embarcadero (previously Borland). This goes to show that outside from M$ there is a better IDE alternative who powered the different sofware in the link below

    http://delphi.wikia.com/wiki/Good_Quality_Applications_Built_With_Delphi

    Codegear’s Delphi for PHP is also worth considering if you want a RAD approach in building PHP application.

  • Yes indeed php designer is a good choices
    2008 is better also
    but in designing all in all from layout to code
    better dreamweaver cs4