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What would you consider best practice workflow tools for web application (PHP) development?

I start my new job next week as a PHP Developer which is my dream job but it's going to be object-orientated which I've only done in Java whilst at university.

My question is regarding PHP tools - what are the best IDE's (I use notepad++), what versioning packages work best and bug trackers etc, so I was just wondering what tools the PHP developers out there use in their working lives.

  • 2
    If you're looking for an IDE, Netbeans and Eclipse both offer PHP support. Aptana (Eclipse-based IDE) does too, I believe. Notepad++ is a great editor, but I wouldn't call it an IDE in the same way as Netbeans or Eclipse. I guess you'll find out what they use when you start your new job. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Aug 23 '11 at 13:49
  • yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to class notepad++ as an IDE but I do think it's a great editor, don't think many people would say they don't like it. Thanks. – martincarlin87 Aug 23 '11 at 13:51
  • @martincarlin87 - I edited your question to be more specific, since it was trying to cover too much ground. – Jarrod Nettles Aug 23 '11 at 14:00
  • +1 to Eclipse for PHP development. I think it has code-completion and syntax highlighting. I have also used Dreamweaver but found I liked Eclipse better. – Brian Aug 23 '11 at 15:20
  • I find this question kind of silly- The only think that you should be making a choice on is maybe your IDE... everything else should've already been setup by your coworkers. You should make your setup a clone of a coworkers to start.. and then if you find you need extra tools, you can use them too. – user606723 Aug 23 '11 at 16:20

The ones I have been using frequently in the last few years

PHPDesigner 7 - simply the best lightweight editor there is. Perfect highlighting, perfect support of smarty and javascript. Very fast, good built in FTP/SFTP browser. And it is not expensive.

PhpStorm - its one of the JetBrains IDEs and I am extremely pleased with it. Good highlighting, good refactoring, good formatting and indentation. If you want to use beta versions and help the JB team it can be used free almost forever for now.

Super flexible file synchronizer - because the project is huge I need something to push to the test server on file change

Mercurial - I prefer to not use the built in PhpStorm mercurial client and do my merges etc from PowerShell

Notepad++ is also good option for fast and dirty edits.

Other tools that are useful

Ditto - I use it all the time. Clipboard manager that remembers your last 500 copy commands. with search in them.

Everything - also another general purpose tool for fast file search in windows.


It would be normal for a new developer to fit in with what the rest of the team is using, unless the dream job is one where you are the team :). Here's some tools that work for me (you will want to compare notes with the other answers).

IDE: I'd recommend the JetBrains tools, either PhpStorm (PHP Specific) or IntelliJ IDEA (Super-new features appear slightly after PhpStorm but works for multiple languages; I do Java, Python, Ruby and PHP). Unlike many other tools they cost Real Money but since you're in your dream job, convincing your boss to pay shouldn't be a problem :). It's worth paying for these tools rather than the other Java IDEs turned polyglot (Netbeans, Eclipse), if only for the vastly better editor.

In general on IDEs vs text editors: I like beautiful syntax highlighting and completion, as well as the graphical integration with debugger and revision control that IDEA gives me. Many grizzled veterans will tell you that they don't need or want those features, so if Notepad++ works for you that's ok.

Revision control: the DVCS concept seems standard these days; Git is very popular on Linux but it sounds like Mercurial may be more user-friendly on windows.

Bug Trackers: Big companies I've worked in have used Jira. For personal projects I use PivotalTracker (leans more towards project management with the scrum methodology, but could be used just to manage bugs). I've also heard good things about Redmine.

Web Development: You didn't explicitly ask about but I imagine your work will involve web dev in general. Firefox plugins:

There used to be an add-on called FirefoxThrottle that would let you see how your sites performed on slow connections. No longer exists but you can still use Speed Simulator on Windows.


I've done a bit of PHP work, and I found a couple of tools that worked particularly well.

For source control and bug tracking you'll use the same thing as everyone else on the team. You won't have many options there and it's really for the best anyway.

For IDE, I was using DreamWeaver. Which wasn't really anything to talk about as far as development assistance, but has an excellent "synchronization" feature that I wouldn't want to work without. Basically, it manages the differences between the files on my local machine, the files on the testing site, and the files on the production site. A couple clicks and you know that all the files on the remote server are synchronized to your current build? Priceless. So I would heavily recommend any IDE with that kind of a feature in it.

The most important tool I found though was the one that I deployed to the remote site myself: phpMyAdmin. A big part of the job was creating and manipulating the mySQL database, and for that I couldn't find anything better than a freely available PHP package designed specifically to do that. As far as "PHP tools" goes, I don't think you can find a more literal match! 8 D

  • The MySQL Workbench is a free tool designed specifically to work with and administer MySQL databases. With its built in support for data modeling it provides a much better tool than phpMyAdmin. – Charles Sprayberry Aug 23 '11 at 15:55
  • If you're coming from a MS Server Management Studio background and looking for a similar GUI for MySQL, I totally recommend DBSolo – CamelBlues Aug 23 '11 at 17:40

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