During my career as a PHP developer (hobbyist and professional) I have tried a multitude of IDEs and tools to write code in. Every IDE I have found thus far did great things but had their downsides. It is with phpStorm that I can send at least some of those problems to the past
Let me start at the beginning. Where I once started with Notepad, Notepad++, VI and alike; I later switched to Eclipse (with the PDT extension). This switch was great as it really increased my productivity by offering all these great things like code completion.
Alas, every good thing must have a downside. Eclipse proved to be a sluggish memory hogging beast. The added features still made up for using it but as time went by I grew more and more frustrated with waiting for my code completion window to show (for example). After some time I tried Netbeans (it was actually Stefan Koopmanschap who urged me to try it). This IDE offers the same amount of features for the same price as Eclipse PDT: free. Yet the big difference between the two IDEs is that Netbeans offers more speed and less memory usage.
Now, you might be wondering: fun and all, but what has this to do with phpStorm?
Well, it was only after a few months working with Netbeans that I read a tweet in my timeline by Kana (MissYeh) about a new kid on the block. You probably guessed it: phpStorm. Even with the added improvements by Netbeans I was still unsure whether this was it. The memory footprint was lower than Eclipse but still high and I still had to wait for certain actions.
Having gotten that little push by MissYeh I decided to take a look at that new shiny IDE and found a true gem! phpStorm offers so much more than Netbeans and Eclipse in terms of performance, memory but also functionality. Allow me to list some things:
- Native git integration
- Method Usage search
- Being able to add types to variables in i.e. foreach loops
- more advanced docblock parsing and code interpretation
- the ability to view ‘blame’ information in the IDE
- and much more
It is truly wonderful!
But alas, as I have said before, nothing is all good. Currently the project is still in Beta and some bugs are to be encountered. Memory usage is great when starting the app but after a day’s work you really want to restart the IDE. And something which might be akward compared to the other IDEs mentioned here: it is not for free. Currently the application is offered for free as beta but once the full version comes out it will go commercial and a licence fee is required (though they state on their blogs that the prices are to be kept reasonable).
For me, phpStorm is despite its beta bugs a more complete and easier application to work with. The fact that it will not be free is regretful but I would gladly shelf out some money for a product like this. If you have not heard of it or tried it: I really recommend it!
Thank you for listening!