InfoWorld review: Eight PHP power tools

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Zend Studio's foundation in Eclipse is obvious from this screenshot. The servers tab (bottom) indicates that Zend Studio has found the local instance of Zend Server.

Zend Studio installs the Eclipse Data Tools Platform (DTP). This gives you, among other things, the Data Source Explorer, which provides connection to and management of close to a dozen well-known RDBMSes. (Actually, the number of accessible databases is limited only by the number of JDBC drivers you can lay your hands on.) MySQL was one of the pre-installed drivers, so it was easy for us to connect to our XAMPP database. The Data Source Explorer lets you prowl tables, stored procedures, views, and more. Open a table in the explorer, and you can drill into its columns, constraints, indexes, and triggers. You can modify the contents of a table directly in the database table editor. To alter table structures, however, you must manually enter SQL DDL statements. This is done easily enough by creating an SQL file and opening the Database Debug view, from which you can execute ad-hoc SQL code.

Zend Studio is a fine marriage of the open source Eclipse IDE and the Zend family of PHP tools and technologies. As with Eclipse PDT, you can turn Zend Studio into a Swiss Army Knife of development tools. Zend Studio's biggest advantage, however, is its swift and tight integration with Zend Server, which makes executing, debugging, and profiling your PHP application a breeze.

  • Single license lets you run on all supported platforms
  • Code completion works even with embedded JavaScript
  • Debugger can be set up with configuration wizard
  • No built-in database tools
  • Debugging mixed PHP and JavaScript requires multiple sessions
  • Free with registration
  • A good collection of plug-ins
  • Windows only
  • Although the IDE is free, you must pay for the plug-ins
  • Documentation needs work; you have to explore the Web site to figure the product out
  • Free
  • Can draw upon a wealth of Eclipse plug-ins
  • Works on all major OSes
  • Eclipse IDE can require getting used to
  • Configuring for debugging is involved
  • Installation is simple
  • Editor help for languages other than PHP
  • Includes HTML preview feature
  • Windows only
  • No built-in database manager
  • No built-in JavaScript debugger
  • Free
  • Works on all major OSes
  • Includes JavaScript debugger
  • PHP documentation needs improvement
  • Scarcity of PHP-related information lengthens learning curve
  • Configuration check at startup
  • Includes database client and SOAP tools
  • Web site has lots of useful tutorials
  • Windows only
  • No code completion for JavaScript
  • Debug configuration wizard
  • Simultaneous debug of PHP and JavaScript
  • Support for multiple frameworks
  • Windows only
  • Help system could use work
  • Scripting language not adequately documented
  • Multi-platform support
  • Integration with Zend Server simplifies debugging and profiling
  • Can be extended with Eclipse plug-ins
  • New users will need to spend time with the Eclipse paradigm
  • Unlike Eclipse, the commercial version is not free
 

Author's note: Special thanks to Reuven Grehan, who assisted in gathering the information for this review.

This article, "InfoWorld review: Eight PHP power tools," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest news in software development and PHP at InfoWorld.com.

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This story, "InfoWorld review: Eight PHP power tools" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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