Review: 2 PHP tools rise above the rest
You'll find no shortage of heavyweight PHP IDEs, but few are uncluttered, focused, and smoothFollow @peterwayner
These problems were all solvable, but I think you need to be working on a bigger PHP project before the overhead of an IDE becomes worth it. The ability to search through all of the files and deploy quickly are more useful when you have a lot of files associated with a complex application.
A couple of the IDEs -- Zend Studio and PhpStorm -- seemed to bear this weight better than the others. Zend Studio, from the creators of PHP, is best for developers already familiar with Eclipse. PhpStorm, a simpler option, is a clean and polished tool that focuses on PHP.
The growth in this area promises to be in cloud deployment systems. There's a big explosion of cloud hosting tools that marry smart servers with load balancers and better instrumentation. More often than not, they lock out the developer and require all new code to be pushed to the server via Git or perhaps Subversion. Some of the most prominent examples are PHP Fog, Cloud Control, Orchestra, and Microsoft's Azure, although the list is growing longer and longer.
It would not be much trouble to add a Web-based editor to these services, and I can see that coming down the road. eXo's Cloud IDE lets you edit PHP files, although you can't really run them easily. You need to push stuff in and out with Git. The service also includes some nice hardwiring to the platform-as-a-service centers such as Heroku, Cloudbees, Cloud Foundry, and OpenShift, though the links aren't as simple as they could be.
For now, the IDEs promise to offer sophisticated development options for people who are creating big stacks of code. When you need to search through multiple files and track sophisticated data structures, the step-by-step debugging provided by an IDE becomes worth the effort to set up and maintain. But as the tools become more tightly integrated with the clouds, I'm looking forward to lighter-weight ways of wrangling the code.
This article, "Review: 2 PHP tools rise above the rest," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest news in programming and PHP at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.