According to a survey conducted by SitePoint.com, PHPStorm was the most popular PHP IDE of 2014. The survey indicated that the commercial and cross-platform PHP IDE was more popular than Sublime Text, NetBeans, ZendStudio, Notepad++, and Eclipse with PDT. However, PHPStorm is designed based on JetBrain’s IntelliJ IDEA platform, which a commonly used IDE for Java programming language. JetBrain has developed PHPStorm by redesigning the Java IDE and embedding PHP support into it. At present, PHPStorm is considered to be faster than other PHP IDEs available in the market. It further enables developers to work with various frameworks, tools and frontend technologies. In the past I had written about a comparison between various PHP Frameworks, so chose to wrote about the IDEs this time. There are also a number of reasons a large percentage of developers and businesses opt for PHPStorm.

Features that Make PHPStorm More Popular than Other PHP IDEs

Works with Major PHP Frameworks and Tools

PHPStorm supports a number of commonly used PHP frameworks including Laravel, Symfony, Yii, Zend Framework, CakePHP, WordPress, Magento, and Drupal. It further helps users to reduce coding time significantly by understanding the language features of PHP. The users can further enhance the quality and readability of the code by availing features for code completion, code refactoring, and error prevention on the fly. At the same time, the IDE also comes with a variety of built-in tools for databases/SQL connection, composer, vagrant, command-line tools and REST client.

Supports Commonly Used Frontend Technologies

In addition to understanding the language features of different versions of PHP, PHPStorm further supports an array of popular frontend technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, TypeScript, CoffeeScript, Stylus, Emmet, Saas and Less. Thus, it becomes easier for programmers to enhance the quality of frontend resources by availing features for code refactoring, unit testing and debugging. They can further avail the live edit feature provided by the IDE to make changes to the frontend files and check the impact of changes instantaneously on the web browser.

Quick Code Verification and Refactoring

PHPStorm is designed with several features to help PHP programmers write clean and easy-to-maintain code. While writing PHP code, the developers can avail features like code formatter, code arranger and quick-fixes. At the same time, they can refactor the code efficiently through methods like rename, delete, move and extract. Also, they can take advantage of specific code refactoring features like inline variable and change signature. PHPStorm further helps programmers to make changes to both frontend and backend of the project by providing language-specific refactoring options.

Efficient Code Navigation

PHPStorm is also popular among programmers due to its efficient code navigation feature. It enables developers to reach a particular line of code by understanding their exact requirements. The programmers can further reach a specific function, method or variable definition just with a single click. So programmers can easily access the required section of the code and make the required changes to the code without requiring any additional time.

Flexible Debugging and Testing

PHPStorm also comes with a visual debugger. The visual debugger makes it score over other PHP IDEs. The developers can use the visual debugger to get insight into the PHP application’s features, functionality and behaviour during various phases of development. Also, they have option to integrate the IDE with Zend Debugger and Xdebug both locally and remotely. At the same time, PHPStorm allows programmers to adopt behaviour driven development through Behat and perform unit tests through PHPUnit.

Dataflow Tracing and Analysis

The current version 10 of PHPStorm comes with features for dataflow tracing and analysis. The feature helps programmers to analyze the source code in a detailed and efficient way. In addition to understanding the source code of the project, the developers can further interpret the complicated parts of the code base, and review the source code to identify the bottlenecks and weaker parts. The feature makes it easier for developers to use third-party code snippets, and share the codebase with multiple programmers.

Interactive Debug Console

PHPStorm 10 comes with an interactive debug console that enables programmers to make changes to variables, call existing PHP functions, and define new functions on the fly. They can simply type or paste a code snippet in the console, and press enter to get it executed and evaluated smoothly. They can further see the output of the code snippet in the console, and make changes according to their specific needs. The users also have option to avail the debug console with various PHP frameworks including PHPUnit and Behat.

The most recent version of PHPStorm also supports PHP 7. It further enables developers to work with a number of new features provided by the latest version of PHP including null coalesce operator, anonymous classes, group use declarations, return type declarations, and context sensitive lexer. So the users can use the latest version of the cross-platform IDE to take advantage of the enhanced speed and innovative features of PHP 7.

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