Detailed IDE Reviews: How do you want to do this?

So, dear readers, I’m doing the IDE reviews for all of you guys and there’s two ways I can proceed:

I can take each of the requirements and do a single post per requirement with a writeup about it in detail for each of the 4 IDEs — then I was thinking for each new IDE I try, I can hit those same points. Or I can write up specifically on a single editor at a time, covering all of the requirements and I will also then review anything else about the editor etc.

I’d like to do a single post on the cross-platform technologies in play (Java Vs XUL) and on the Eclipse and Netbeans platforms (outside of any PHP plugins), but these fall outside of the scope of the original intention of reviewing the IDEs.

There are several incarnations of Eclipse I would like to review: Zend Studio for Eclipse, Aptana and PHPEclipse, I think perhaps I need a comparison table for Eclipse solutions on their own ;)


– Davey

  • Mike Willbanks
    Posted March 16, 2009 8:53 pm 0Likes

    You might also want to make sure you also do PDT for Eclipse! Otherwise you might be missing that one. A chart of the different PHP editions would likely be a great option.

    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 16, 2009 9:14 pm 0Likes

      Zend Studio for Eclipse and PDT are pretty much identical excepting Zend Platform integration, Refactoring, PHPUnit testing and some extra polish on installation and configuration. I’ll review the differences, but the table is in fact (and headed as such!) based on PDT.

  • Thomas
    Posted March 16, 2009 8:58 pm 0Likes


    why is Nusphere phpEd always missing? We switched from Zend 5.2 some time ago and are very happy with this IDE since then.


    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 16, 2009 9:02 pm 0Likes

      It doesn’t fulfill my very first requirement: It is windows only. Regardless of how good it may be, without being cross-platform it’s useless to me. I’m not choosing an IDE just for myself for an entire development team.

  • Alan
    Posted March 16, 2009 10:56 pm 0Likes

    Don’t leave out Dreamweaver as a IDE for PHP. Too many reviews ignore the PHP tools that Adobe provides. Version CS4 has lots of interesting PHP features – even subversion support.

    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 17, 2009 8:22 am 0Likes

      I use Dreamweaver on both Windows and OS X for prototyping UIs, however it doesn’t work in Linux (not natively) so it’s off my list for a potential successor for my team.

  • mihailt
    Posted March 17, 2009 3:43 am 0Likes
  • Sebs
    Posted March 17, 2009 3:57 am 0Likes

    Add more ides, thats all i need

    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 17, 2009 8:21 am 0Likes

      I will add more, certainly, but I’m not going to make this into a full time job, nor the definitive resource on these matters. There are entire sites dedicated to Editor and/or IDE reviews.

  • Brad
    Posted March 17, 2009 7:58 am 0Likes

    How about one longer post for Eclipse based solutions, and maybe one each about the others.

    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 17, 2009 8:25 am 0Likes

      I think this might be [close to] the way to go (and thank you for actually answering the question I posed :). I’m not sure that phpEclipse doesn’t deserve it’s own post, and then bundle PDT and Zend Studio for Eclipse together. With a separate post on Eclipse itself on it’s own.

  • Matthew Weier O'Phinney
    Posted March 17, 2009 9:38 am 0Likes

    I’m going to disagree with you that PDT and Zend Studio for Eclipse are basically the same thing — primarily because ZSfE is using PDT 1.x, and PDT 2.0 (released in January, IIRC) offers many new features that are not found in ZSfE currently (better speed being one of them).

    On another note, phpEclipse has been around a lot longer than PDT, but at this point isn’t as fully featured. That said, its development is completely open, and offers a contrast to other Eclipse offerings.

    I think if you want the comparisons to be completely fair, you should do separate reviews for PDT 2.0, ZSfE, ad phpEclipse.

  • Robin
    Posted March 17, 2009 10:36 am 0Likes

    I think i have to agree that the entire Eclipse stack deserves a separate looking into… The fact that its used as an IDE for several different languages etc (at the same time) makes it more than just a `PHP only` IDE, and thus creates other features, issues and of course requirements…

    I would have to agree with Matthew though that within the Eclipse environment the differences go deeper than the initial surface… The differences between PDT 1 and 2 are substantial… But remember its still eclipse… Might the truth to your question lie in the middle: combine the eclipse reviews but differentiate within the requirement-reviews based on the differences in features… ?

    BTW I forgot to mention in my previous comment on your announcement: the support for remote file systems (live, not via up- and downloading) is something that seems to lack in most IDE’s (except for eclipse… )

    I see that the `remote file systems` requirement is missing from your comparison chart… Was that a purposeful omission? (i sure cannot live without it, being a windows based developer with production and development servers all *nix based and constantly accessed via (s)FTP / SVN etc)

    (and excuse my pig-latin-english, it still isn’t my native tongue)

    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 17, 2009 10:59 am 0Likes

      We have automatic checkouts of SVN commits on our dev server, so if you want to test on the server, debug it, or commit it.

      Furthermore, on OSX and Linux there is FUSE (also on Linux, GVFS and KIO IIRC) which can mount remote filesystems over SSH, FTP etc. It is my opinion, that an application should not handle this, it lies in the domain of the underlying OS.

      I believe there is a way to mount remote FS’s (FTP at least?) on Windows.

      • Robin
        Posted March 17, 2009 11:33 am 0Likes

        I guess your situation is alot like mine then (except i’m on windows) but the possibility of (ie) directly uploading files should be part of an IDE correct?

        But i do agree with you: it’s not primarily up to the IDE to polish away the flaws of the OS :)

      • Brandon
        Posted March 17, 2009 3:37 pm 0Likes

        For the FTP/SSH File mounting on Windows you can try this site that gives a tutorial with Putty:

        Or, if you want to do it in an easier fashion, I personally use Netdrive at home and it seems to work pretty nicely with mounting my Dreamhost account. The website for that is:

  • Brent
    Posted March 17, 2009 3:42 pm 0Likes

    Did I miss the part on why you are choosing for the whole team? It seems to me that the individual developer would be best suited to choosing the tool that would be most productive for them.

    I’m a VIM fan myself and scoff at those silly Emacs users. But, I have a developer that is very well versed in Emacs and I wouldn’t think of telling him he needed to switch over to VIM. We also have Zend Studio and Eclipse users in the bunch as long as they can checkout, edit and commit according to our standard we could care less what they use.

    • Davey Shafik
      Posted March 17, 2009 7:09 pm 0Likes

      Well, till now, their choice has been Zend Studio or PDT — as they are the only IDEs that work with the Zend Debugger. However, with the move to Netbeans and xdebug, we open ourselves up to a much wider range of possibilities. However, it’s far easier on a team to be consistent in my experience — I won’t however stop my team using something else, but I will strongly suggest netbeans :)

      One final thing, though not much of a concern for myself is that when you buy licenses in bulk you usually get a discount :)

      – Davey

  • Ron Korving
    Posted March 18, 2009 4:06 am 0Likes

    Hi Davey,

    I would love to see comparison tables, similar to the ones on ( see ), showing in depth differences between different IDEs. I would simply consider phpEclipse to be a completely different IDE than PDT/Eclipse when doing such comparisons.

    When it comes to the kind of detail that would be much appreciated by me, I’m thinking of things like responsiveness and memory usage measurements, in what ways certain features may differ (code completion on PHPs functions only, or also on user functions? things like that).

    Good luck! And thanks again,

    Ron / Abraxas

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