I have used many IDEs and non IDEs over the years while working with PHP, everything from simply writing things in notepad to a little more advanced editors such as notepad++ to full IDEs like Eclipse and Zend Studio. Each one has its own pros and cons and I would be fine working in all of the options above however I prefer using the tool which makes my work the most efficient. One of the runner ups which I used for a while was Coda 2. Coda 2 is really nice and at first I loved using it, however after using it for a few weeks I started noticing things that felt unfinished, there was no way to search for something in all the project files and navigating large projects like magento was slow and complicated. Coda 2 also crashed on me a few times which caused me to look for something better that really fit me.

This is when I stumbled upon PhpStorm from JetBrains which is pretty much everything I want from an IDE and more. PhpStorm is configured for PHP and will handle other files such as html, css and javascript with no problems. It also has a large list of plugins which you can use to further expand the features of PhpStorm, most of them are free. PhpStorm is available as a fully featured 30-day free trial and costs $99. Since I am currently a student at Mälardalens University I was able to get PhpStorm under the academic license for $29 which was really nice of them.

So what makes PhpStorm so great? PhpStorm is an IDE which is just a useful as the larger IDEs like Eclipse and Zend Studio but without all the bulk and unnecessary functions which make the other IDEs hard to learn and use. This IDE also works on pretty much any OS with support for Mac OSX, Linux and Windows. It comes with the standard stuff you expect with any IDE like code completion, latest PHP support (5.4), and helpful documentation when using standard functions. It will also highlight any duplicate code for you or alert you when something is wrong. A tool that I have come to love when dealing with large files or especially other peoples files that are not neat is the code reformat tool which I use on an almost daily basis while working with code. It even has great support for navigating between files with classes or creating UMLs to give you a better view of everything. And the last thing I love about PHPStorm is the project navigation and searching, everything in your project so a quick search in your Magento project for the word “facebook” for example only takes a few seconds. Oh and the autoupload feature is great, it automatically uploads your files as soon as you make changes, you can also specify which files or directories are part of your project so that you don’t upload files like LESS files or something of that sort. There is much more that I could talk about and that I myself have yet to explore, if you would like to see their complete features list then simply click here.

In adition to this great IDE there are also a ton of useful plugins which makes up for any missing features in the actual IDE. One plugin which I have come to love is Magicento which is a magento plugin for PHPStorm which adds a lot of helpful features and documentation for working with a Magento project. Another great plugin which is useful when working with LESS which comes with twitter bootstrap for example is the LESS CSS Compiler which will automatically compile your less files to css stylesheets on save or however you prefer to do it.

That sums up my review, if you have any questions, comments or tips about other great IDEs for PHP please do let me know!