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Long recognized as the leader in integrated development environment (IDE) for PHP, PHPStorm from JetBrains is a full-featured IDE that can both enhance the development environment as well as reduce the development life-cycle.
In this guide to PHPStorm, we look at some of the features that make PHPStorm popular, compare it against other PHP IDEs, discuss the considerations developers need to make when choosing a PHP IDE, then provide a list of helpful shortcuts you can use to better navigate PHPStorm — should you choose to use it.
As will be shown later, PHPStorm even provides support for working with databases directly from the IDE environment which, since database access is a primary focus of many PHP applications, can be a great time saver in the development process.
PHPStorm is not a free product. Based on the subscription model, pricing models are available at both the yearly and monthly level with reduced costs for subsequent years. Free offerings in the PHP IDE space include NetBeans, Eclipse, and Visual Studio code.
PHPStorm certainly isn't the only IDE in the marketplace with other solutions including NetBeans, Eclipse, Visual Studio Code, and ZendStudio. But, as indicated earlier, PHPStorm is consistently ranked as the number one IDE for PHP development in many internet-based surveys.
All of the IDEs provide a similar set of base functionality including multi-language support and code completion. Where PHPStorm starts to outpace the competition is in areas such as Intelligent Code Completion, support for a variety of Frameworks, and expansive code inspection including support for SQL.
The features outlined above aren't just for PHP. As an example, when working with SQL (a common task for a PHP developer), the PHPStorm features of inspection can be used as well as auto-completion of tables and fields which can help to ensure that the database structures are in sync with the code being developed.
When choosing an IDE it's important to keep the following considerations in mind:
While important, don't get overwhelmed with the massive list of features and functions that some IDEs provide; rather, determine those features that are important to your development effort and ensure that the selected IDE provides those.
a development environment in which all of the tools work cooperatively together can lead to significant performance improvements in the development effort. You will want to ensure that the selected IDE works well with the application server, and source code control systems deployed in the environment – both of which PHPStorm has good integration capabilities for.
like any modern language PHP is constantly evolving with new features. It's important that the IDE stay current as well to ensure that IDE functions such as code-completion support new/modified functions provided by the language.
While an important consideration cost should actually be the last consideration. As an example, free offerings may not be providing the features that you need for your development effort.
To enhance a developers productivity in working with the features of PHPStorm itself there are a wealth of keyboard shortcuts including shortcuts related to editing, debugging, refactoring, navigation, and search tasks. We have put together a few tables for Windows shortcuts below. Click the links below to jump to the desired section.
These shortcuts are essential for basic PHPStorm use.
If you're editing code with PHPStorm, these shortcuts are good ones to have close by.
Debugging a PHP application with PHPStorm? These shortcuts will come in handy.
Refactoring code is hard enough. These refactoring shortcuts for PHPStorm can make it more surmountable.
Quickly find relevant points in your code with these PHPStorm navigation shortcuts.
Looking for something in your code? These PHPStorm search shortcuts can help.
The PHPStorm ecosystem includes a number of extensions for adding additional capabilities to the IDE. One of these extensions is to support Zend Debugger, a debugger that is included with Zend Server. This allows the developer to integrate the debug capabilities of Zend Server with those of PHPStorm to enable capabilities such as launching debug sessions from the Zend Server environment (including code trace and ZRay).
IDEs can be a significant time-saver for PHP/Web development efforts and PHPStorm is an offering in the IDE space that is well worth evaluation and consideration.
Looking for additional information on how to use PHPStorm with Zend Server? The resources below are worth a look.
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IBM Champion | Former - Senior Solutions Consultant, Zend, Perforce Software
As an IBM champion, Mr. Earley has been recognized as a leader in the IBM i community and offers more than 20 years of experience helping customers to implement solutions on the platform. His expertise includes using PHP, MariaDB, Docker, and Chef for creating modern enterprise solutions that run on IBM i, as well as PowerVC for cloud deployments and virtualization management. Mr. Earley is a frequent speaker at global technology conferences, and he has authored numerous articles on Linux, PHP, virtualization, systems management, and open source solutions and concepts.