Jump Start PHP Environment IDE vs Editor

@swader In PHP Environment you are really try to encourage getting an IDE as opposed to an editor. Atom and VS Code as well as other editors now have lots of support for PHP. Since writing that book, would your advice change at all? If not, why?

Let me start by disclaiming that I have not tested newer versions of Atom or PHP or PhpStorm as I am no longer an active web developer.

I am still currently using VS Code for writing some Solidity code and it’s not blowing me away. It fails to re-indent even the simplest code, chokes up on large projects, and generally suffers from all the downsides all Electron apps suffer from: memory use and processing power once the project is no longer trivial. Granted, PhpStorm support is no better for Solidity, there’s simply no good tool for this language out there yet.

Still, for PHP, I would always recommend PhpStorm - breakpoint debugging, hardcore indexing and super-search with double-shift, launch/test/deploy environments right from the editor, integration with external tools and even automated browser tests, all these are features without which real projects would be a pain to work on. For one-off projects that you won’t be spending much time in, simple editors are fine but if you’re working on something where code standards, test coverage, and workflow speed (once the IDE finally warms up) are important, go with an IDE.

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I would say it depends on a lot of thing.
Personally i don’t like to spend a lot of $$ on IDE so i would prefer a VS Code.
Checkout this series for preferred extenstion and how to setup VS code for PHP: https://laracasts.com/series/visual-studio-code-for-php-developers

If you don’t mind spending much $$ on IDE then PHPStrome is a one of the best as well.


I have been using the free IntelliJ IDEA Community version for a while and like it a lot. It is not “full featured” but of the different IDEs I have tried over the years it is the first one I like well enough that if I did want full features I would have no problem paying for the Ultimate version.

True, most of my “projects” start as rough drafts in plain notepad files. They then may proceed to being files in Notepad++ and only when they get more complex / more fully developed do I then import them into the IDE.

So to answer the question, IDE vs. Editor, I would say:

  • Many (most?) editors can be extended with addons.
  • An IDE may have more features other than a built in editor than you will ever need. Though you will likely want some of them at some point.
  • Both may have resource use concerns (footprint, boot time)
  • Both will have some amount of a learning curve.
  • Either may have installation and configuration particulars that will need to be figured out.

Long story short - it depends. If you can get an IDE into your toolset it will not be a bad thing, Do It! But if you have problems, don’t let that stop you from getting a start, use an editor. When you get to the point that you need more than the editor can easily provide, revisit using an IDE.

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