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Top Code Editors and IDE for PHP Development

Updated on January 18, 2023

14 Min Read
best ide for php

To remain competitive and productive, writing good code in minimum time is an essential skill that every software developer must possess.
To develop software code efficiently, programmers use IDEs to write, run and execute code. PHP editors, for example, help developers while coding by highlighting syntax, auto-complete, and auto-fill suggestions.

Just as writers use Microsoft Word or any other text editor, programmers use IDEs to make their job much easier.

As many experienced coders would agree – looking at You – the right IDE and/or code editor is vital for producing and maintaining high-quality code.

Various highly recommended PHP IDEs offer real-time smart code completion and error validation. These tools have intelligent debuggers and syntax checkers for conveniently developing PHP scripts.

So how do you choose the best IDE for PHP?

In this article, I will highlight several IDEs and the best editors for PHP that have captured the attention of the global software development communities, like PHP and Python. However, before we get on with our list, I would like to clear up an important misunderstanding – the difference between IDEs and Code Editors!

The Difference Between IDE and Code Editors

If you’ve just started your career in programming, you may be thinking: what’s the difference between IDEs and code editors? I mean, they are both used by programmers for coding – how are they different?

While the line between the two is blurring because of the crossover of features, there are key differences.
Kinda like this ostentatious rebranding of KitKat and Kat Kot.

kitkat

 

Essentially, an Integrated Development Environment or IDE is a self-contained package that allows you to write, compile, execute and debug code all in one convenient place.

On the other hand, a code editor is a text editor with several features that facilitate the process of writing code, either through native capabilities or through optional plugins.

Generally, IDE is focused on a single language and contains the compiler/interpreter and debugger specific to the language. In contrast, code editors are more general-purpose in their capabilities, being able to work with several programming languages. Code editors are limited to writing code and do not go beyond this stage.

I hope this clears up the confusion. Oh, and before you ask, yes, I love KitKat.

Programmers absolutely love the latest version of PHP. After all, it’s one of the faster scripting languages, and per second, PHP applications can handle more HTTP requests.

But here’s the thing: maintaining top performance calls for more than just writing code quickly. Having a dedicated server is just as important. You wouldn’t want your apps to share space with others, dealing with clogged-up server RAM and CPU performance.

Both IDE and code editors share common features such as code completion, hints, highlighting sections of code, and custom folding sections of code. Choosing between an IDE or code editor is largely a matter of personal preference, the particular programming language, and the workflows.

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So no matter what meets your individual needs, here is my list of web development tools that have established a reputation for reliability and performance. I hope you will use one or more of the following in your projects.

Top 7 IDE for PHP Development

PHPStorm

phpstorm
PhpStorm is a PHP IDE that really ‘gets’ your code. It supports PHP 8.2, gives on-the-fly error prevention, best autocompletion & code refactoring, zero configuration debugging, and an extended HTML, CSS, and JavaScript editor.

It has a super minimalistic user interface, and its startup time is unbelievably fast. Unlike most IDEs crammed with too many features and take quite a long to launch, PhpStorm launches instantly like simple PHP editors.

PhpStorm offers tools to edit databases, run queries on table data, and even edit and analyze schemas with UML diagrams. It also comes with code assistance features to deal with SQL queries and databases in your projects.

For 2023, its UI has been completely redesigned for a fresh look. What’s also cool about PhpStorm is that it has a community of over 600,000 users worldwide.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Supported Languages: PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, and 7.0, HTML and JavaScript
Price: USD 249 for the first year, subsequent usage costs less
More Information: Code quality analysis, PHPUnit tests, GitHub
Visit: PhpStorm

Netbeans

netbeans
NetBeans is an integrated development environment (IDE) for Java that runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, and macOS. NetBeans allows applications to be developed from modular program components called modules. The IDE simplifies the development of web, desktop, mobile, and enterprise applications using Java and HTML5 platforms.

Netbeans comes with extensions for different programming languages. Its PHP runtime gives you a full-featured PHP IDE that allows developers to run, refactor, debug, and profile PHP applications.

Netbeans also comes with all the common bells and whistles of a PHP editor, such as syntax highlighting, over-customizable themes and views, 1000+ plugins (available on the NetBeans Plugin Portal), and more. Best of all, it is absolutely free.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris
Supported Languages: Java ME & SE, JavaScript, HTML5, PHP, C/C++, XML, Groovy, Javadoc, JSP
Price: FREE (CDDL or GPLv2)
More Information: Integration of Subversion, Mercurial, and Git, NetBeans Profiler
Visit: Netbeans

Aptana Studio

aptana studio

Aptana is an open-source integrated development environment (IDE) for building web applications. Based on Eclipse, it supports HTML, JavaScript, DOM, and CSS with JavaScript debugging, error warning notifications, code completion, outlining, and integrated documentation.

One disadvantage is that it does not offer a WYSIWYG editor. If you don’t know, a WYSIWYG editor is a major asset when making changes to a webpage. It lets you make changes and see how your live website looks on the fly.

Aptana’s deployment wizard helps clients deploy applications using protocols like Capistrano, FTPS, SFTP, and FTP. In addition, it can automatically publish Ruby on Rails apps to hosting services, including Engine Yard and Heroku.

In this case, Aptana is best for experienced web developers who know code. However, it is full of hints and tips to assist in developing your coding skills.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Plugin for Eclipse.
Supported Languages: JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, DOM, CSS, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, Perl.
Price: FREE (GPL)
More Information: Open source, deployment wizard for RoR
Visit: Aptana Studio

Eclipse

eclipse
Eclipse is a free, integrated development environment used in computer programming. Eclipse is well known for its Java-based development platform and plugins and extensions, allowing developers to create and test code written in other programming languages.

Eclipse contains a workspace and an extensible plug-in framework for customizing the environment. All in all, it is one of the most used IDE for Java development.

Eclipse’s highly configurable user interface allows users to use it with other Eclipse plugins. Moreover, you can also add your web server(s) that Eclipse will use for debugging and profiling PHP files.

Eclipse also supports well-known PHP tools, such as Zend Debugger, Xdebug, PHPUnit, and Composer.

The only downside of Eclipse is that to run it, you have to install the JRE (Java Runtime Environment) or the Java Development Kit (JDK) on your machine. But on the flip side, this open-source IDE has over 1750 committers, constantly helping to improve its performance. Best of all, it is also completely free.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris
Supported Languages: Ada, ABAP, C, C++, COBOL, D, Fortran, Haskell, Java, JavaScript, Julia, Lasso, Lua, NATURAL, Perl, PHP, Prolog, Python, R, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Rust, Scala, Clojure, Groovy, Scheme, and Erlang, LaTeX, Mathematica.
Price: FREE (Eclipse Public License)
More Information: Rich Client Platform, supports Tomcat, GlassFish, and other servers, Web Tools Platform.
Visit: Eclipse

Visual Studio (with Xamarin)

visual studio
Microsoft’s Visual Studio is an open-source PHP editor for all platforms, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. It features code debugging, embedded Git control, syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets, and code refactoring. Developers can modify the editor’s theme, keyboard shortcuts, and highly adjustable options.

Visual Studio enables developers to create a new Xamarin project and add content to their mobile applications. Developers can then test the mobile application by running it through the emulator. Xamarin is a platform that allows developers to build mobile applications. It’s open-source and has community support from developers and users worldwide.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Linux, macOS, Windows
Supported Languages: C++, C, C#, Visual Basic, PHP, JavaScript
Price: Price runs at $999 a year, with no option to pay monthly.
More Information: Cross-platform support, Integration with GitHub, Subversion and other team tools.
Visit: Visual Studio (with Xamarin)

Zend Studio / Laminas

zend studio/ laminas
The Laminas Project is Zend Framework – an open-source, object-oriented web application framework implemented in PHP 7 and licensed under the New BSD License.

The codebase is what used to be called Zend Framework, but the project got transferred to the Linux Foundation. PHP Laminas is the continuation of the Zend technologies. The Zend framework is still being utilized by driving organizations to support various business solutions, such as eCommerce, content management, healthcare, and messaging.

With Zend Server, developers can use Z-Ray to debug mobile apps and live servers. Developers can utilize Z-Ray to get phenomenal experiences from their codes and queries and particular frameworks or application frameworks like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Magento.

Over 40,000 customers trust Zend, and you should too. Even more impressively, after community support expires, Zend provides 3 or more years of security and bug patches, giving non-LTS PHP projects peace of mind.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Windows, Linux, macOS, IBM i
Supported Languages: HTML, CSS, Sass, LESS, Markdown, JavaScript, PHP.
Price:$89 for personal use and $189 for professional use (both are perpetual licenses with 1 year of free upgrades). Comes with 30-day free trial.
License: Zend Studio License (pdf)
Visit: Zend

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is a free, open-source code editor by Microsoft that has gained huge popularity among developers. Visual Studio Code is a streamlined code editor supporting development operations like task running, version control, and debugging. VS code aims to offer the tools a developer needs for a speedy code-build-debug cycle and leaves more complex workflows to fuller featured IDEs.

The most prominent feature of VS Code is IntelliSense. IntelliSense provides smart completions based on variable types, function definitions, and imported modules. Also, VS Code allows debugging code right from the editor. You get the freedom to launch or attach to your running apps and debug with break points, call stacks, and an interactive console.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.
Supported Languages: Batch, C++, Clojure, CoffeeScript, DockerFile, Elixir, F#, Go, Pug template language, Java, HandleBars, Ini, Lua, Makefile, Objective-C, Perl, PowerShell, Python, R, Razor, Ruby, Rust, SQL, Visual Basic, XML.
Price: FREE (MIT License)
More Information: GitHub support, code refactoring, debugger.
Visit: Visual Studio Code

Top 7 Code Editors for PHP Development

Sublime Text

Sublime Text
Sublime Text is a cross-platform source code editor. It’s jam-packed with powerful features like multi-line editing and build frameworks. Sublime Text supports many programming languages and markup languages. Users can extend the platform functionalities with plugins – many of which are available via Sublime Text’s package manager. You can also create your own custom plugins if that’s your thing.

Sublime Text has many plugins available for the PHP language as comment generation, linting, testing, beautifying, formatting, and others. Also, it has some plugins for WordPress development that can assist you a lot with writing WordPress code.

Sublime Text is community-built and maintained under free-software licenses. To facilitate plugins, Sublime Text features a Python API.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Supported Languages: All popular languages
Price: With a free trial available, Sublime comes at a one-time price of $80
More Information: Package Manager
Visit: Sublime Text

Notepad++

notepadd++
Notepad++ is a source code editor. It features code folding, limited autocompletion, and syntax highlighting for programming, scripting, and markup languages. Notepad++ is best suited once you want to code in Java, Unix, or SQL.

It underpins tabbed editing, which allows working with multiple open files in a single window. It has a code formatting option that makes the code simple to understand and easy to find out errors and solve the programming issue.

It has syntax highlighting capabilities for nearly 80 different programming languages and editing features such as intelligent code completion, auto-completion, code folding, and others. It’s easy to install, works out of the box, and has important editing functionality such as split view, different document interface, undo/redo functionality, and more.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
Supported Languages: Ada, asp, Assembly, AutoIt, Batch, C, C++, C#, Caml, Cmake, COBOL, CoffeeScript, CSS, D, Diff, Flash ActionScript, Fortran, Gui4CLI, Haskell, HTML, INNO, Java, JavaScript, JSP, KiXtart, LISP, Lua, Makefile, Matlab, MS-DOS, INI file, NSIS, Normal Text File, Objective-C, Pascal, Perl, PHP, PostScript, PowerShell, Properties, Python, R, Resource file, Ruby, Shell, Scheme, Smalltalk, SQL, TCL, TeX, Visual Basic, VHDL, Verilog, XML, YAML.
Price: FREE (GPL)
More Information: Open source, Macro recording, and playback, User Defined Syntax Highlighting and Folding
Visit: Notepad++

Brackets

brackets
Brackets is a source code editor with a primary focus on web development. Created by Adobe Inc., it is free and open-source software licensed under the MIT License and is currently maintained on GitHub by open-source developers.

It is written in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. It is written in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Brackets is cross-platform and available for macOS, Windows, and most Linux distributions. The USP of Brackets is its live HTML, CSS, and JavaScript editing functionality.

Brackets combine more than 282 contributors and have more than 400 bug fixes and new functionality requests. If we talk about usability, Brackets can handle most text editing issues, and compared to other free and open-source editors out there, it is simple to use.

In case you edit HTML and CSS on daily basis, Brackets is the editor to use.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.
Supported Languages: C++, C, VBScript, Java, JavaScript, HTML, Python, Perl, Ruby.
Price: FREE (MIT License)
More Information: Live Preview, JSLint, LESS support
Visit: Brackets

SlickEdit

SlickEdit
SlickEdit is a popular cross-platform text editor known for its high performance and advanced editing capabilities. SlickEdit is also highly customizable, allowing users to configure the editor to their specific needs and preferences. SlickEdit is a powerful and efficient text editor that can help improve productivity and streamline code development.

It supports 70+ programming languages, including C++, Java, Python, and JavaScript. Some of its key features include code intelligence, advanced navigation and search tools, a customizable user interface, customizable key bindings, and an integrated development environment.

Also offers cool features like Beautifiers, SmartPaste, unparalleled technical support, Context Tagging, Configurable Color Coding, Symbol Coloring, and much more to make programming a breeze.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Cross-platform
Supported Languages: GNU C/C++, Java, WinDbg, Clang C/C++ LLDB, Google Go, Groovy, Python, Perl, Ruby, PHP, XCode, Android JVM/NDK.
Price: SlickEdit Standard (USD 99.95*), SlickEdit Pro (USD $299†)
More Information: Support for Git, Subversion, Mercurial, Perforce, CVS
Visit: SlickEdit

Codelobster

Codelobster
Codelobster is a freemium PHP editor and IDE that supports front-end languages. Codelobster contains a fairly complex user interface where you’ll see all the accessible features, menus, and panels by default β€” however, you can hide the panels you don’t need.

Codelobster PHP editor has all the features you’ll need, like syntax highlighting, writing PHP code, auto-complete, setting help, and debugging functionalities.

Codelobster comes in with strong development features such as HTML/CSS code inspector, built-in PHP debugger, pre-designed themes, code validation for HTML, CSS, and PHP, pre-written code snippets and code templates, HTML-to-PHP and PHP-to-HTML conversion, SQL manager and much more.

The best thing about Codelobster is its smart debugger. Its PHP Debugger allows the developer to validate their code locally. It can automatically detect your server settings and configures corresponding files to let you use the debugger efficiently. And if you need help, you can always hit F1 or use the special Help control.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Windows, Linux, macOS.
Supported Languages: HTML, XML, CSS, Sass, LESS, JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, PHP, SQL
Price: First year $59.95 (for up to three devices), subsequent years $19.95/year, 30-day free trial
Visit: Codelobster

Codeanywhere

Codeanywhere
Codeanywhere is a cross-platform cloud-integrated development environment made by Codeanywhere, Inc. It allows users to write, edit, run, and collaborate on web development projects from a web browser or mobile device. The tool is written entirely in JavaScript.

Codeanywhere offers a connection wizard where you can choose between different stacks, including two LAMP stacks, Ubuntu and CentOS β€” both come with phpMyAdmin and Composer added.

Also, it comes with pre-configured PHP and WordPress stacks, a built-in Linux terminal with sudo (root) access, intelligent code editing features, support for FTP, SFTP, FTPS, SSH protocols, live pair programming on shared files, Git integration, multiple layout options, and one-click code beautifier.

Codeanywhere supports all major programming languages, including JavaScript/TypeScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, Go, Java, C/C++, C#, and many others. It also offers intelligent editing features such as code refactoring, auto-complete, go-to definition, renames symbols, and more.

Features Overview:

Platform(s):iOS
Supported Languages: Javascript, PHP, HTML, and 72 other languages
Price:$6/mo Basic plan, $15/mo Standard plan, and $40/mo Premium plan
More Information: Code beautifier, Multiple cursors, Zen code support
Visit: Codeanywhere

UltraEdit

UltraEdit
UltraEdit is a source code editor that has been around in the market since 1994. UltraEdit offers a user-friendly user experience right out of the box. In addition to the customizable UI, it has powerful developer features that help developers work within the cloud or on a remote server, overseeing projects, backing up records, encrypting/decrypting records, and more.

UltraEdit can be deemed the best PHP editor, as it has a huge file-handling feature β€” one of the many reasons it’s so popular among programmers. It offers custom themes and layouts, powerful search functionality, live preview for HTML, a powerful command palette, support for the FTP/SFTP and SSH/Telnet protocols for remote development cloud syncing, and much more.

UltraEdit is super popular, with over 4 million customers worldwide. As for compatibility, UltraEdit works with Win, Mac, and Linux.

Features Overview:

Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Supported Languages: PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6 and 7.0, HTML and JavaScript
Price: Starts from USD $79.95/year
More Information: Blazingly fast large file handling, Integrated FTP client, Layouts
Visit: Ultraedit

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Conclusion

The right IDE or code editor is more than just a tool for writing good code. With both tools, programmers get access to amazing features and tools like Syntax Highlighting, Auto-indentation, Auto-completion, and Brace Matching that streamlines the process of writing and debugging code so that the time spent on production is efficiently used to produce top-quality code.

With so many options, finding the right one can be quite challenging. To help you out, I have tried to cover the top IDEs and code editors in this article. If you have found the one you like based on the features that are important to you, that’s awesome. If not, and you need recommendations, I would highly recommend using PhpStorm. It is, in my opinion, the best IDE for PHP.

If you think I have missed your favorite code production tool, leave a comment below, and I’ll make sure to add it to my list.

Q. Which free IDE is best for PHP?

A: Visual Studio can be deemed as the best IDE to use for PHP as Visual Studio’s core features include lightning-fast source code editor for hundreds of languages, VS Code syntax highlighting, bracket-matching, auto-indentation, box-selection, snippets, and more.

Q. Which IDE or Code Editor should I use for CodeIgniter?

A: Eclipse for PHP works great with CodeIgniter. Netbeans is another good IDE, and Sublime is a code editor for CodeIgniter.

Q. Which IDE or Code Editor can I use for WordPress?

A: You can use Aptana, NetBeans, Eclipse, Visual Studio Code, Rapid PHP, CodeLobster, and Brackets for WordPress development on the Windows platform. They’re also open-source. For WordPress development, Sublime, Visual Coder, and Notepad++ Editor are better options.

Q. Which IDE or Code Editor should I use for Magento development?

A: PhpStorm is by far the most popular IDE for Magento. Netbeans is also popular, but the new Magento extension like Eclipse and Zend Studio introduced recently are also nice and getting popular in the community.

Q. Which IDE or Code Editor works for Laravel?

A: Laravel doesn’t require any special IDE or code editors. So any good editor or IDE will work for you, and it’s a matter of personal preference. PHPStorm and Sublime are a joy to use, and with the Laravel IDE Helper, you get autocompletion with Laravel facades.

Q. Which IDE or Code Editor works best for Drupal?

A: There is no specific IDE for Drupal development. However, you can try out Eclipse PDT or Notepad++. If you are more command-line-oriented, you can go with VIM.

Q. Which PHP IDE comes with SSH support?

A: For SSH Support, VIM and Kate are popular options.

Q. Which PHP IDE comes With Git support?

A: Eclipse and Komodo provide integrated Git support within the IDE.

Q. Is there any online PHP code editor or IDE?

A: There are tons of online PHP editors available in the market, but only a few have the required advanced features. Top online PHP text editors, including CodeEnvy, PHPFiddle, WritePHPOnline, PHPAnywhere, and a few others, are recommended by developers for writing/editing code online.

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Inshal Ali

Inshal is a Content Marketer at Cloudways. With background in computer science, skill of content and a whole lot of creativity, he helps business reach the sky and go beyond through content that speaks the language of their customers. Apart from work, you will see him mostly in some online games or on a football field.

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