Top 3 PHP IDEs

April 3, 2014 10:13 pm Leave your thoughts

It is a common experience for all software developers to browse around and search for the  perfect IDE for their software development needs. This can be tricky as it all depends on the budget, development hardware platforms and programming language needs. So I have decided to share my top 3 PHP IDE with all of you based on my experiences. Hopefully this article helps you with your decisions. So here are the IDEs.

No 1. PHPStorm

phpstormThis is my favourite all round PHP IDE. It is multi-platform (osx, windows and linux) and has tons of plugins for multiple frameworks. I found this IDE indexes souce codes very well thus making global keyword search very fast.

The IDE is also great for working with JavaScript frameworks as well thanks to its wide plugin support, for example: handlebars, emberjs, less, etc. Almost all of the widely used libraries are supported. In addition, different version control systems are well supported by this IDE, such as hg and git.

As always, better hardware will give you better performances especially during indexing. The first time you load a project into PHPStorm the processing can be a bit taxing, but with the later versions it seems to be more optimised. The IDE also depends on Java Runtime Environment thus its advisable to download the proprietary version as opposed to the open source one.

Get PHPStorm here.

No 2. NetBeans

php-ide_topThis free IDE has evolved over the past few years, I found that these days it performs much better than it was a couple years back. There are pretty good varieties of plugin support too especially for JAVA, PHP and C/C++. ¬†As of version 7.4 I can’t see any support for EmberJS and Handlebars though, hopefully those will be supported via its official plugin repository soon.

In terms of indexing speed and overall user experience, PHPStorm is still faster than NetBeans. However nothing can beat this IDE in terms of price of course since its free. So if you want a free IDE with good language support and don’t mind a bit of processing time every now and then, NetBeans is the perfect IDE for you.

Get NetBeans here.

No 3. phpDesigner 8


phpDesigner 8 as the name suggest is like PHPStorm, tailored specifically for PHP. This editor is perhaps the fastest of all 3 that we listed here. The support for PHP frameworks such as Symfony and CodeIgniter is really good. All the method and function call “click-through” are working well and indexing seems to be very efficient. This is probably the only IDE that works well when I try it with an Intel Atom Netbook (yes it’s an older machine that I have lying around).

Javascript support is pretty good as it supports the standard libraries such as jQuery, MooTools, etc. However the only JS framework that it supports fully seems to be only AngularJS. So again, if you use EmberJS you might want to submit a feature request.

Another catch of using this editor is that it only works on Windows machine. I think though, this will be perfect for anyone working on PHP heavily on a Windows machine.

So if you are a Windows user and mostly develops with PHP, this editor is for you.

Get phpDesigner 8 here.

Honourable Mentions

Here’s a couple text editors that I think is good for software development. They are not IDE of course, but more advanced text editors.

Sublime Text

I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with this text editor. Huge number of handy shortcuts and tools make this the editor of choice for many software developer no matter what language is in use. In some ways it’s very close to a full blown IDE.

Get Sublime Text here


This can be considered very new, but rapidly evolving and under constant developments. The ability to live preview a web page is very cool as well, every changes in the code is reflected instantly on the preview browser. I think this is perfect for designers wanting to test out CSS rules and deciding on user interface aesthetics.

Get Brackets here


One of the older players in modern text editor arena. This is one of the most comprehensive text editor out there, however it only runs on Windows.

Get Notepad++ here

I hope today’s post give you some ideas on what IDE and text editors you can use to enhance your software development productivity.


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