By Bruno Skvorc

PhpStorm – Review and Give Away

By Bruno Skvorc

It’s said the tool doesn’t make the craft – a carpenter can drive a nail into a wooden plank using a hammer, a rock, another plank, or his forehead, but he’ll rarely choose anything other than the hammer. Some of our foreheads may have gone hard with constant hammering while programming, but that doesn’t mean its a better tool than the never before used hammer. Ok, enough analogies, I’m talking about using a text editor versus using a full-fledged PHP-dedicated project-oriented IDE for PHP application development. Both will get the job done, but productivity-wise, one is obviously a better choice than the other.

PhpStorm is a Java-based IDE developed by Jetbrains, derived from a master multi-programming-language IDE called IntelliJ IDEA. It’s a stripped down version of IntelliJ with added PHP support – something IntelliJ needs to have manually enabled via a plugin.

Now, this wouldn’t be a good review if I didn’t mention some downsides, but luckily these are few and far between and, as you’ll see below, aren’t show-stoppers. Let’s get them out of the way first.

First and foremost, PhpStorm is built on Java. Java is a dinosaur language and the VM which needs to spin up to execute Java apps is one of the greatest memory and CPU hogs – especially when working in an OSX environment. Coupled with the IDE’s rich functionality, this resource demand might prove to be too much for weaker machines. Using Java comes with a big perk though – PhpStorm is fast. Blazing fast.

Furthermore, PhpStorm is a project-based IDE, which means there’s no simply editing just one file. You need to define a project and tell the IDE which files are included in it. This is a professional IDE designed for heavy coders who develop large applications and professional platforms. It emphasizes speed, productivity, and ease of access to the entire project, and as such, offers no actual support for individual PHP file editing in the traditional sense. Certainly, you can edit a PHP file, but it’ll get opened under the project you have opened at that time. And new projects must be opened in a new window – there’s only one IDE instance per open project.


Notable Features

But while I mentioned being built on Java as a downside, it’s also a huge-advantage. It lets us use the IDE on every development platform we own. This alone is worth looking at as a deciding factor in the purchase, as it allows you to carry your development environment with you. If you have a specific set of rules for every project, if you have coding styles and enforce PSR standards, if you have include paths that are identical across platforms but are a pain to set up over and over again, all you need to do is load the configuration from the originally configured PhpStorm and you’re good to go.

The second downside also doubles as an advantage. The IDE being strictly project-oriented means it indexes your entire project (all of your include_path as well if set), and offers full-fledged autocompletion with documentation for all the classes bound to your project, namespaces and all. You can exclude certain files and folders if you wish, but the gist of the matter is that one IDE instance handles one IDE project – the resources of one instance are dedicated to fast intellisense and code scanning of that project. Naturally, the clipboard is cross-instance compatible, so copying files or code snippets from one instance to the other is a breeze, whether you do it via the clipboard or just drag and drop across windows.

PhpStorm 4+ supports the latest PHP version, including 5.4. There’s trait support, short array syntax, and all the other candy. If you’re developing a 5.3 project but would like to use 5.4 on new projects, configuring the IDE to do so is a walk in the park – you can set the actual interpreter version in the project configuration. If you accidentally use the short array syntax in the 5.3. project, the IDE will warn you accordingly.

Another useful feature is smart refactoring; you can rename a file and have its include statements altered automatically across the entire project. You can refactor a global variable and have it changed in every file which uses it. You can refactor a property and see it and its accessors change without further effort. You can even refactor an entire PHP namespace and have it change across all classes. Imagine how much time this saves when dealing with 10k+ file projects.

Large IDEs can be convoluted and complex, but PHPStorm eases you into its functionality in two ways: 1) Quick Tips that are actually practical will appear on every startup, unless you decide not to show them anymore. I’ve learned around 50% of all commands I know and use from these tips. 2) If you can’t find an IDE option in the menus, hitting Ctrl + Shift + A will open a command browser in which you can type out the IDE command you want to do. Want to git push the changes? Ctrl + Shift + A, and type “Push”. Forgot the shortcut for move line up/down? Just Ctrl + Shift + A and type “move line”. The shortcut will be displayed in the list. This isn’t your average autocomplete either – this is near-instant.

PHPStorm’s intellisense is mind-blowing. The aforementioned autocomplete across classes in a project is great, and the autocomplete on the selection of IDE commands is a great idea, but it offers intellisense for JavaScript, HTML, and CSS as well. No other IDE has fulfilled the need for this so completely. After all, it’s not only a PHP editor – it’s actually WebStorm, the web-focused IDE from JetBrains but with added PHP support, which means it also has full support for rich and fast editing of HTML, JS and CSS.

There’s also a built-in graphical diff tool which highlights differences in a readable manner allowing you to visually compare the changes and seamlessly transfer updates from one file to another with the click of a button. If a conflict occurred, just hitting resolve will delete the conflict resolution files after the user syncs them up.

The IDE also has excellent plugin functionality and a vibrant community around it. It is, essentially, built as a bare-bones application and all the functionality is plugged in. This lets you disable the plugins you don’t need (like the enabled-by-default CVS and SVN if you only use Git) to conserve resources, and lets you expand the IDE adding new functionality you feel is missing. To look up some plugins, see

Here’s some more gems:

  • Clicking the closing brace of a block that begins off-screen will display the entire starting line of said block in the top editor gutter. So if you forget the arguments a function consumes, there’s no need to scroll – just select its ending brace and the starting line will appear on the IDE frame.
  • Open any file with CTRL + Shift + N, or class with CTRL + N, instantly. No scrolling through directory trees, no loading or searching. This is extra handy when you have many files/classes in your project.
  • Got some messy code from other developers which you can’t look at unless it’s at least in PSR-1? Just run the code auto-format with CTRL+ALT+L on the files, blocks of code, or even entire folders to clean it up according to the coding style du jour.
  • Any undefined namespaces, redeclared classes, syntax errors and disrespected type hints will glow red. They will be highlighted in the right editor gutter and in the code itself. PHPStorm is your pair programmer – it helps you avoid silly bugs before you even make them!
  • Keyboard shortcuts like “duplicate line”, “move line up / down” and live templates which let you create aliases for entire blocks of parametrized code will speed up your development and editor navigation. As an example, have a look at a couple videos and notice the speed of the developer as he uses autocomplete, live templates and various other WebStorm shortcuts to speed up his workflow.

There are loads of other features – I can only recommend you download the 30-day trial and give it a go. If it feels intimidating at first, stick with it and within a day or two you’ll be working it like a pro.

Free Give Away

Many people oppose transitioning to PhpStorm with the argument: “Netbeans has all that and it’s free.” While I won’t argue that Netbeans does indeed have the majority of features PHPStorm offers (although not all of them), even if they had identical features, interfaces and commands, the speed increase alone is worth the price. Also, NetBeans belongs to Oracle as of 2010 who have done little in the past couple years to bring the IDE up to speed.

Also important is the fact that the company making PhpStorm is approachable and friendly – the software they make is maintained, built, and sold by people you can actually reach. Most people figure: “I don’t care if they burn puppies or have supervillainous plans, I like their product” (which is essentially why Apple products get sales). But Jetbrains is open to suggestions, they give discounts for good causes, they extend trial periods if you ask them to, they will even provide you with a free Open Source license if you’re the main committer of an Open Source project!

It is in this friendly and generous spirit that Jetbrains, in partnership with SitePoint, is giving out PhpStorm licenses and hard copies of PHPMaster: Create Cutting Edge Code!

To be eligible for the give away, either 1) download the IDE, test it out, and post a comment below in which you name your favorite feature, or 2) share this article on Twitter with the hashtag #phpmaster, all by August 22nd. Three winners will be chosen at random shortly thereafter. Comment winners will be notified by email (be sure to provide a valid email address in the contact-form!) and Twitter winners by direct-message.

  • 1st Prize: A PhpStorm license and a hard copy of PHPMaster: Create Cutting-Edge Code
  • 2nd Prize: A PhpStorm license
  • 3rd Prize: A hard copy of PHPMaster: Create Cutting-Edge Code

Good luck, and happy coding!

  • I’ve been trialling PhpStorm for a few weeks now and my favourite feature so far is the PHP code completion which I’ve found works really well.

  • Brian

    Have to admit that their Intelisense is the best I’ve seen

  • I would have to say my favorite feature would be the speed at which it runs. I use Eclipse every day and found this to be even faster!

  • Kise S.

    While i like phpStorm i cant help but notice that it cant do a simple file upload without having to define a project, i manage about 100 websites, i cant just download all customers data to my workstation just to fix a bug in one file.
    for that reason im still sticking to webuilder until phpStorm either add simple ftp support or webuilder evolve.

  • Jetbrains provides great tools for .NET work – ReSharper, dotCover etc. I’ve not used all their individual IDEs though. PhpStorm and WebStorm together look like an ideal duo for web development. Nice that PhpStorm is tuned into the current PHP version, along with the tooling support.

  • Athar Khan

    I really liked phpStorm…its very fast and easily customisable ….version controlling and Intellisense are awesome :)

  • Miro Svrtan

    Favorite feature:code formatter

    Other great features:
    -blazing fast search/replace
    -code inspections
    – unit test support

  • Adam Dear

    I was considering PHPStorm when I was moving away from Aptana. However, I ended up choosing Netbeans for one reason. PHPStorm won’t let you open project files that are on a network drive. My particular dev environment consists of a Linux VM with a Samba share. I attach the Samba share in Win7 as a network drive. Netbeans will allow me to add to the code from the network share to my project. PHPStorm will not. That’s a deal breaker for me. From what I’ve read, that behavior seems to be by design. Looks to be a great IDE otherwise, but not for me.

    • I didn’t know of this shortcoming, thanks for sharing!

    • Bado

      Adam, I’ve been doing exactly what you describe, since the day I installed PHPStorm.
      I have development work happening on a FreeBSD box, in a directory shared via Samba, and attached as a named drive in Windows 7 (X:project) and PHPStorm (versions 3 and 4) works just fine like that.
      It does not work if you try to connect it as \machineproject however

      • Adam Dear

        I had not thought to try attaching the share that way. I will have to go back and try that and reevaluate my ide of choice.

      • L

        It’s very common problem with apps. Does not work on share \share, but works with mapped drive z: = \share
        Pinnacle Studio (>v.9), PHPStorm, …

  • Another downside to PHPStorm (as opposed to say Aptana, Komodo, or Notepad++) is how they treat remote files. PHPStorm downloads a local copy of your codebase (making getting started on a large codebase an arduous process) and then requires you to manually force an upload of the local files to the remote server. That means when you save the file, you’re saving locally, and the remote file doesn’t update until you execute a second step.

    If I wanted to edit locally and check in changes, I’d use Git or Subversion to clone the repository locally, rather than having the IDE clone everything itself, but not implement any of the benefits of version control.

    I guess it’s up to personal preferences. But I like the remote file handling of Aptana, Komodo, or even Notepad++ better than PHPStorm.

    • freedimension

      There is a setting for that: “Deployment -> Options -> Upload changed files automatically …”.

    • I do exactly what you say, I clone the repo using git clone and push my local changes to live hosting directly in PhpStorm… I never download files from host in PhpStorm.

  • libeco

    A few things I really like about PHPStorm:
    – A lot faster than any other IDE I know. Netbeans is very nice, but it’s too slow, certainly when compared to PHPStorm.
    – The Git integration works very well.
    – Customizability is a feature often overlooked in software, but is done quite well in PHPStorm.

    The biggest downside is the lack of proper project management.

    • Thanks for the feedback!
      Lack of proper project management? Could you clarify, please? I’m curious as to what you mean, I love project management in PhpStorm

      • I think what they mean by lack of project management is, lack of multi-project management. I use Aptana, and I love the way you can create working sets with multiple projects in each set. When I’m developing, it usually isn’t one project at a time. Furthermore, with the ability to view multiple projects in the same screen, it opens up a huge functionality for those who like to copy and paste code from one project file to a different project file comparing differences between the two files as well. Since I’ve only been using PHPStorm for a few days now, I may have missed some setting that allows the dev to do this. In a nutshell, I must be able to view multiple projects in the same window.

        • This functionality does not exist, as mentioned in the review. This was made so that the resources of one editor instance could focus on one project properly and work fast. However, you can still very easily copy-paste across windows and screens.

          While I personally don’t mind this limitation, I understand why you need it and I would like it if they included an option to open multiple projects in the same window, for the people who can’t get used to such a workflow. I must say, though – I am currently developing on a tiny macbook and it does not cause any problems whatsoever – actually, I feel like switching from project to project and back and finding files I’m looking for is even easier this way.

          Give it a couple more days and I’m sure it’ll grow on you. If not, there’s always hoping they add this feature in version 6 :)

  • Alessandro P.

    What I love of PhpStorm, apart from optimal autocomplete and speed? Great PHPUnit integration, nearly perfect git integration, great (albeit not perfect) support for LESScss.
    And it follows php development close. It was the first (AFAIK) to have traits and short array notation included.

  • Pavel M.

    A lot of favorite features, but one I use a lot and I believe to be very very useful is Find in Path.

  • Aapo Talvensaari

    I started with IntelliJ IDEA about ten years ago by doing some J2SE, J2EE, and J2ME development. Then I changed to .NET job, and I was very glad that JetBrains provided IntelliJ IDEA features to C# devs with ReSharper. Right now I’m writing some PHP apps, anf I would love to make a switch to PHPStorm. Features I like most in PHPStorm are background compilation with error reporting, refactorings, and the great support for web technologies (html5, js, css…).

  • David Jones

    Version control support including built in integration with Github, Unit Test support, Xdebug/Zend Debugger and Intellisense / class lookup shortcuts are real winners! Plus the overall speed and responsiveness. My IDE of choice!

  • Of course I like the speed of the whole IDE, really unusual for Java-Software.
    But my most favourite feature, which I really love, are the refactoring tools :D

  • joesapo

    Excellent code completion!

  • Frank L

    I have always been a big fan of notepad++ but the code completion of PHPStorm makes coding a bit faster. Other IDEs have this feature but those IDEs come off as a bit bloated to me, which PHPStorm doesn’t. Wouldn’t mind getting a license for this. :P

  • Morgan

    My favorite feature is the Xdebug integration.

  • Matt

    Definitely, for me, the code completion is the best of many features that makes PHPStorm the best PHP IDE!

  • Felyx

    There is so many incredible features in PHPStorm it is hard to point out just one, but code completion is really great in it. I would also mention the project file manager, restoring files from history and so on…

  • David

    I really like the intellisense and integration with code sniffer. Makes bringing legacy code up to par much easier.

  • Arthit

    I like Breadcrumb in top menu. It ‘s usaful

  • Kevin

    I like this IDE. It has a good intellisense and follow closely the language evolutions.

  • Heiko

    I like the symfony2 integration!
    But only tested the trial-version for some days, would be great to win a licence to work more hours with it ;)

  • audax

    My favourite feature is the vim-plugin which allows me to use this IDE in the first place.

    • Well, I’m glad there is a plugin for IDEA products like “IdeaVIM”, but it is still a little buggy and lacks of several commands and movements. Although, it is a open source project and we can help improved it. So far, the best implementation of Vi/Vim command/movements is the Netbeans’ one.

  • Matthias Bayer

    Best IDE ive seen.
    I like the Intellisense.

    • You say “Intellisense”.
      It’s called “Code Completion”.
      Intellisense is one of the advanced technologies used in the Visual Studio series of IDE’s.

  • Best feature is the speed. I’ve stucked with netbeans for years, always be nervous about the freezing and lagging of the IDE. I pretty like the code quality tools too, but PHPStorm has to improve the JavaScript intellisense!

  • My favorite feature is definitely the code formater.
    But the following features are awesome too:
    – version-control (git, subversion)
    – code inspections
    – generate code (phpDoc, interface, getter/setter)
    – extract code on refactoring by context menu
    – autocompletion support
    – jquery support

    PhpStorm has convinced me to change my IDE. That was an amazing experience!

  • Auto completion really works :)

  • Mark Strange

    The Auto completion is a real time saver and works so well!

  • axiac

    I like code completion, code inspections, generation and validation of phpDoc blocks, refactoring, support for Smarty template engine, file templates and several others I cannot remember right now.

  • After using PHPStorm as a full IDE for about a week now (perfect timing, right?), I gotta say I’m pretty impressed. I use it to work with a pretty intense web application on top of the Laravel framework and PHPStorm is able to (impeccably) pick up the code and provide me with relevant hints. It often happens that I’m trying to type something and I’m not too familiar with it and so PHPStorm helps me out on the way.

    Another cool thing about it is the site-wide error lookup. Basically, any file that has a syntax error on your site is underline (as if misspelled) and so what’s cool about that is that when I use a different editor (sublime for instance) and save the file, PHPStorm will automatically pick up on errors.

    I use the IDE with Git so that error features comes in handy here where PHPStorm warns you when you’re trying to commit files with errors in it. ON top of that, it warns you if you’re using tabs AND spaces for indentation. The program automatically picks up on what your conventions are and tries for all the files to stick to it. Very cool :)

    I also use the FTP feature very heavy and the handy thing here is that you can change permissions, browse directly through the server, and do all kinds of nifty things. Even map out where your project will be uploaded. No long do you have to deal with having the same root folder structure. You can just tell PHPStorm “Hey, I want my project in the ‘www’ folder on my server” and PHPStorm uploads it there rather than into the root.

    Needless to say, I’m thoroughly enjoying the trial! :)

  • I’ve used MANY IDEs and I have to say this is the best IDE I’ve used to date. I still use TextMate when editing a quick file here and there. But, for full fledged project coding, this is by far the best solution.

  • Been using PhpStorm for 10 days or so now.
    My two fav features are whatever alt+enter brings up when you need it (I often go $this->newMethod() and hitting alt+enter on newMethod gives me an automatically created method stub) and ctrl+alt+shift+T (Refactor This) to do any kind of refactoring. Most used for me is Extract Method, which NetBeans lacks.

  • I’m a macvim and sublime user, but phpstorm definitely has code completion over these two. I’m considering switching over because of it.

  • Axman

    Just started using PHPStorm. Totally loving its speed!

  • Jonathon

    I’ve been using PhpStorm since its first release, having switched from Zend Studio 5.1. Besides being tons faster, the way its autocompletion and type hinting work are first-class. I have recommended this IDE to many friends and co-workers, and will continue to do so.

  • Josh

    My favourite feature is when working with WordPress you can define the path of the ‘wp-includes’ folder which then gives you full code completion for all the essential WordPress functions. Has increased my workflow tremendously!

  • ChadA

    I like the code completion the best. Anything that saves me time by not having to look up syntax is welcomed!

  • Peter

    Really like the code completion. Oh, and the speed.

  • I can’t believe how accurate the code completion feature is. I keep telling it to stop reading my mind!

  • Jason

    Love the JavaScript editing and the Intellisense in PHPStorm. I also appreciate the Smarty support since a lot of my clients use smarty.

  • jesse

    Jetbrains is well known for their refactoring tools. And PhpStorm has an excellent refactoring suite that has saved me a ton of development time (and cost).

  • Chris

    Feature I like most was Code Formatting and Code Completion. Validation of phpDoc blocks is also a plus.

  • Hoping this live up to the hype and far beyond!
    I’ll be testing it all week.

  • JC

    The best part is code completion. The main reason that this stands out is because PHP is such a mess of static functions, it’s almost impossible to remember even the functionality that I use most often. As someone that does most work in Java and some supporting work in Ruby, Javascript, PHP and bash, having this crutch is a big timesaver whenever I have to work on the PHP scripts. Plus, the user interface is a beauty.

  • moshe


    hey. my favorite fratures are:
    that it is mostly bugs free
    its git integration
    its debugging part

  • GiN

    PhpStorm is really great IDE, but I need one more feature – direct connect to FTP/SFTP servers without creating a project. A lot of developers signed under same request but seems like Jet Brains won’t implement this feature in future.

  • Tom

    Definitely the best PHP code completing IDE I’ve tried.

  • Shane

    I have to say the PHP Storm IDE has caught and pointed out more errors for me than I can count. The PHP code sniffer is a great time saver for someone just learning the ins and outs of PHP development. I also really appreciate the PHP UML class editor. That visualization is very helpful overall when dealing with other programming and even helps learn one learn and pass on OOP principals to beginners. The ability to visually see GIT version information and its javascript support is just the ice cream you can eat with your cake.

  • Best part is the code completion.

  • Juan

    I love its code completion and xdebug support, and the code inspections, but sometimes I hate them.

  • It’s hard to choose a favorite feature, but I love being able to hit ctrl+shift+n and findMany file in my project quickly, and ctrl+shift+alt+n to find any symbol. Combined, they add up to a lot of saved time.

  • Peter Piluk

    I love the project management features!

  • John Guerin

    favorite feature is xdebug integration

  • Marzsman

    It’s really hard to name 1 favorite feature :) The speed of the IDE, refactoring code, code completion, code navigation, excellent HTML5 and JS support, IDE customization, …

  • Saumen

    I’ve been using it since couple of months in office. Would be nice if I get a license to use at my home machine :)

    I love most of its features – specially svn integration, auto reformat, inspection, xdebug and auto bug detection. Stacktrace tool could have been more friendly like cachegrind.

  • Nate Turnage

    I love that it’s so much faster than NetBeans.

  • For me the best feature is the class and function lookups. When coding you can simply hold down the command key and hover over the target and it brings up summary description info as well as a clickable link that brings you to the definition. The summary info includes the properties (private, protected, public etc.) of the declaration as well as informing you if there are multiple instances in your application (in which case you can click to bring up a submenu and then select the declaration you want to go to!). The speed of this functionality really is the icing on the cake- this feature is an absolute treasure when working on large existing apps, especially when you are not familiar with the codebase structure!

  • froggin

    I am fairly new to PHPStorm, but refactoring in a PHP IDE? Yes, please. I love that feature and the auto-completion is AWESOME!

  • KimL

    What I find useful are code completion and navigating to declaration.

  • jfh

    I love the speed, the intellisense, and the organization capabilities via the project driven nature of it.

  • Zyancali

    As I’m developing on Windows and Fedora, my favorite feature is that PhpStorm is multi-platform.


    Code Completion is nice, interface design makes me want to use it, and GIT integration works well

  • fndtn357

    I do Drupal development and I love PhpStorm. I have recommended it to anyone who listens. It is leaner and meaner than most IDE’s. I rely completely on the Git plugin for version control, and it is very flexible in terms its plugins and external tools. Code completion is awesome and fast, you can even build your own library. I interact with many different operating systems and login remotely to the codebase and work often. I depend on it.

  • I also really enjoy the nice code completion, even across different files from you project, something that has often been a problem in other IDE.
    I also like the integration with PHPunit, making it easier to write test suites.

  • Jeff

    Many great features, really like the GIT integration but my favorite is how fast PhpStorm runs in comparison to NetBeans.

  • Really love the Zen Codding integration that greatly speeds up the html & css building. And also the fact that it uses less resources than Eclipse a big plus.

  • I’ve been using phpStorm at work since last October. I’ve already purchased it, so if I win, I will give my license away to someone! I just wanted an excuse to write a review of it!
    I love many of the features; the extensibility of it using the plugin system, cross-compatibility on different OS’s, the slick, fast code-completion, but I have to say “Find in Path” is my favorite feature, especially because of the speed with which I can search very large repos. I’m very happy with it compared to Eclipse and NetBeans for PHP work. Incidentally, I use IntelliJ at work, as well, and I don’t care as much for it.

  • Code formatter – this feature has been long wanted for. I don’t know whether it is supported in a last Netbeans, but here it is really a nice feature.

  • julian

    It’s hard to select just one feature that makes the change to phpStorm worth. In the last (almost) month I’ve being using it I think the feature I’ve found most interesting and actually useful is the whole integration with GIT it has, simplest and most powerful set of options I’ve ever seen on any IDE, love it!

  • Ben Overmyer

    I love PHPStorm. The best feature? Its error/style checking reporting.

  • Boris

    PHPStorm is really fast, has many excellent features (code completition, library support, git support,…) and works very well with Drupal, my favorite CMS.

  • L

    Does it support Laravel framework or MarkDown formmat?

  • Clive Sweeting

    Netbeans has been my ide of choice, but the Less and Scss support in phpstorm are very appealling. Most php devs also do a fair bit of frontend code, and this is one area that phpstorm has a clear advantage…

  • Oscar

    Great support for HTML5/Javascript coding and debugging, and the integrated task management/todo feature is something I really appreciate.

  • macsylvain

    as a new programmer, it is easy to learn and use

  • Eric

    This is wonderful, after an hour, I’m hooked. I tried out Coda2 as well, and it’s autocompletion was awful compared to PHPStorm. Coda 2 wouldn’t even autocomplete constants declared in another file that had been included. Also tried Aptana, and it’s string/quotes were awful. Even if I escaped quotes, it would change color of the text after quotes, making my long, complex strings impossible to read and debug.

  • Tom

    Code completion and svn integration are my favorite features. I use other Jetbrains products (IntelliJ and Rubymine) and would love to have a license for PHPStorm.

  • My latest fav feature changes as I discover new ones, but right now, it’s native Twig templating right out of the box. I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t use PHPStorm.

  • Patrick

    Project-wide code completion (I believe this is called Intellisense) and smart refactoring are both extremely well implemented and very useful features that made me wonder why no other software I’ve used has included them. I had a real “lightbulb” moment the first time I saw smart refactoring in action – such a simple and obvious idea, it made me wonder how I managed without it for so long.

    The effort that’s been made to to make the IDE aware of PHP as a language, to the extent of knowing the differences between point updates to PHP itself, is also very impressive.

  • easy to use, fast even though it takes a lot of memory. loving since day 1.

  • Andry

    Other than the speed I love that I can quickly lookup method definition with Ctrl+Shift+I or the documentation with Ctrl+Q
    The hints that they’ve put around also help me to find new features, that’s how I learned about quick method definition lookup.

  • Kurt

    I like the Javascript code completion – and the VIM plugin.

  • ksf2600

    It’s awesome being able to run the same IDE on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

  • Sam

    I love how everything comes together; each IDEs have their strength and weaknesses, but somehow phpStorm manages to have many of the best features integrated in a single package. It’s the entire experience rather than any one feature that gives phpStorm its edge. If I have to choose between them, I would have to pick code completion. Git integration is great too.

    My second trial expired a few months ago… still waiting/hoping for a discount soon :(

  • Larry Turk

    Nice. Like an improved NetBeans on steroids…

  • At last an IDE with dedicated and better PHP code completion. Love this feature as I tend to forget many of the important functions.

  • Tsega

    The zero-configuration debugging is a very important feature for me! Also love the fact that I can change the editor themes easily is a huge plus, it looks and feels like one of my other favorite editors, RubyMine.

  • JJ

    My favorite feature is auto completion! I have to be 100% honest, it will not replace Sublime Text 2 for me. As I seen above having to create a project (like Netbeans) to get full use is just a not my thing. Projects are nice they serve a purpose, but every IDE in my mind fail to realize is sometimes developers just want the editor out of their way so they can crunch out some code but later have all the tools to debug etc….(which Sublime Text 2 is missing) The best way to think about it is if you have to do [this step] to complete [that step] then the IDE is in your way-

  • Nixudos

    New to the world of PHP, coming from Actionscript 3, I was looking for an IDE that might ease the learning curve and get me up to speed quick. And PhpStorm seems to fit the bill! Just played with it a couple of hours but it feels very intuitive and I’m looking forward to all the “Whoa!” moments along the road!

    • From someone who also came to PHP from the world of AS3 development, I wish you a hearty welcome!

  • Jeroen Schouten

    My favourite feature is the fast loading of large projects (Magento!)

  • Serge

    Nice IDE. The most stunning feature for me is that i do not need to hit CTRL+S every 5 min. Not so long ago i worked on friend’s laptop and use NetBeans. Could not understand why my changes do not reflect online until i get that i do not save them )))

  • Lafriks

    Played around with it a bit and really like how auto-complete (not only php) and ftp sync does work. Really impressive.

  • Igor

    PhpStorm the best IDE I ever used. Beautiful design, very handy interface, all that you need in one place. I very like live templates. It speeds up my work. PhpStorm have very good perfomance. It work even on my old laptop. I used Netbeans, Netbeans work too slow.

  • MaxIkar

    My favorite feature is the intelligent auto-completion. Indexes works very quick even on huuuge projects.

  • Nice! I love the velocity: auto completion and searching run like hell :)

  • Caspar

    The best feature? Perhaps the speed of the whole editor.
    But also the highlighting of errors and typos (note the “palceholder” for the name field) :)

  • suyanto
  • cYbercOsmOnauT

    I love PhpStorm since Version 3.x. It’s far better than PHP Eclipse. :)
    What they could make better is the Smarty support. It often shows me errors in places which are correct (mostly when I wrap a { with literal).

  • Daniel

    I like the SPEEEEEEEEED! Oh an the code completion of course!
    Coming from Netbeans those are the most recognizable improvements.

  • Nils Luxton

    It’s too difficult to pick a favourite feature, there are so many. As others have mentioned, the speed, the intelligent autocomplete, the refactoring. The “CamelCaps” searching for classes etc (type Ctrl+N, then CCF to load Controllers_Contact_Form) is also a great timesaver.

    I think the best thing about the IDE is the way all the little features add up to such a huge productivity boost. Like having colours defined in a CSS file show up in the gutter next to their definition – so unobtrusive but so helpful.

    The built-in database support is great, too. Autocompletion on table names + fields is a huge boost when you deal with large databases.

    My favourite plugin is “IntelliJ Configuration Server” – it will share your configuration across all your copies of PhpStorm – no more manually syncing code styles / colour schemes etc across platforms + machines (e.g. home + work)

    They also release new versions with new features regularly – and put out bugfix releases very often. Zend Studio this is not.

    Long live PhpStorm!

    • Nils Luxton

      I’ve remembered my favourite feature – it’s so ingrained in my workflow I almost forgot about it. Ctrl+W selects the next largest logical block of code from the cursor and keeps selecting more and more the more you press it – I use this all the time. And, just like everything else in the IDE, this shortcut works everywhere, even dialogue boxes. Together with the “Use camel caps” setting this allows rapid editing/replacement of code.

  • Randy

    NetBeans has always felt a bit clunky. PHPStorm is more responsive and intuitive for PHP work. The autocompletion and the refactoring tools are great.

  • Sébastien

    My favorites features of PHPStorm? autocompletion and refactor/rename/move that actually work ^^

    And the other IDEs from Jetbrain are really nice too, Rubymine is great for instance.

  • Paul Hayler

    Excellent IDE. I have used Aptana Studio, Eclipse and Netbeans over the past and I think the best feature of PHPStorm is that you have implemented all the best parts of the IDE mentioned and then listened and responded to the needs of the developer, across the whole group. IDE developers tend to only listen to user feedback and don’t necessarily evaluate the requirements of their competitors users. As far as I can see you have listened and reacted to everyone’s needs really well done and thank you.

  • Michalis

    Auto-completion works really well and speed is something that impressed me.

  • I’ve tried several PHP editors and IDEs for Windows, but PhpStorm is feeling like the best fit so far.
    There are so many great features baked right in, but a unique one new to me was the integration with Firefox for instant refreshing when I’ve saved a file. Wow, the time saved adds up quick with that!

  • My favourite feature is “Code Inspector” (especially integration with PHP_CodeSniffer), It saved a lot of my time.

    PHPStorm is really great :)

  • DanS

    As a Linux fan who makes his living in a MS dev house, I appreciate that PHPStorm is cross-platform. As a recent convert from ASP.Net, I really like the intellisense and class documentation. That has dramatically increased my learning speed compared to using a general text editor (gEdit or Notepad++).

  • Bruce

    I’ve only been using it a day or two, but so far I am really impressed by the overall speed of the application. The autocomplete functionality on the Codeigniter app I’ve been working on seems far better than in Netbeans, which is what I’ve been using previously.

    I also like the ability to zoom in and out, which I tend to need later in the day as my eyes get tired. And it shows indentation guides, which are still missing in Netbeans.

  • Richard

    PHPStorm is definitely the best PHP IDE I’ve used. Similarly RubyMine for Ruby development. It’s fast and fully featured, in fact 30 days isn’t nearly long enough to learn all the features, although it was long enough to convince me it’s worth buying.

    Picking out a single favourite feature is tricky. I find Find Usages really useful, as is the refactoring support. Where PHPStorm really shines though is its code inspections, flagging up syntax errors, unused variables, invalid name space usages and loads more, across JS, CSS, HTML and PHP, to name just the ones I use. Plus there’s the IdeaVim plugin, so I can still use vim key bindings, macros, search and replace, etc. PHPStorm is a great IDE.

  • Andrew R

    my co-worker has been using php storm for years and loves it. the sitewide variable lookup stuff is great.

  • Tried Sublime Text 2, Netbeans and phpStorm. Settled on the last for professional work, and my favourite feature is how easy it is to make changesets for subversion.

  • Jan

    I’ve tested Eclipse and I’ve tested Netbeans, but I’ve always returned to Notepad++. Then I was in need of an IDE for a Doctrine project. First I tried an actual version of Netbeans and it always crashed at startup (during file-scanning). After that I’ve tried PhpStorm with the project and I loved it:
    – low memory usage
    – lot of settings for defining coding standards (per file type)
    – great git integration
    – breadcrumbs for the actual file

  • I am using nusphere for years and the integrated debbuger is the main reason to keep using it.
    I do like the coloring of html and javascript coding from PHPStorm and that.
    I have checked same PHPStorm versions before and this one seems to be even more powerfull than the versions before.

  • I’ve been trying out PHP Storm for the past few days and by far my favorite feature so far is the auto completion also the GIT integration makes it super easy to switch between branches without leaving the editor.

  • LucasC

    Speed is what I like the best but also the integration with codesniffer, the great coding standard defaults, intelli-sense, and the fact that it saves all the files all the time!

  • David W.

    I love how fast the code completion pops up. I love Netbeans, but sometimes code completion is way to slow.

  • I got PHPStorm installed last night on my Mint 13 64-MATE computer and started coding with it this morning. The first thing I noticed was the speed of the IDE and the intellisense. I fell in love with the project wizard and the ease of creating the server connections for remote projects. I am coming from NetBeans, which has been going downhill in my estimation ever since Oracle took it over.

    Thanks for the opportunity to try it!

  • RobertM

    I used both the Eclipse and Netbean but they both seam very clunky unlike the PHPStorm which is pretty fast and fluid. Also, all the features work as intended without too much effort to set it up.

  • Have tried their Trial version a long time ago and really loved it. But don’t have enough money to buy it. So, hope to get a free copy this time.

  • The code inspector is the best. It “just works”. Netbeans fell short in this department. PhpStorm’s preferences panel is my least favorite thing -which isn’t saying much. Most everything else is very snappy and a pleasure to work with. I do all my WordPress development in it now:

  • I previously was a Nusphere PHP Editor user, until now. PhpStorm is pretty damn fast and I would have to say my favourite and easily it’s best feature is Intellisense. This makes working with a PHP framework like Codeigniter or application like WordPress about 100 times easier.

    Really hope I win a copy. I could see this being part of my everyday work flow. If not, I’ll probably buy a copy anyway.

  • Kareem

    It must be smart auto completion.

  • Marcelo Fernandes

    Greate IDE and the Intellisense is wonderful :-D !!!

  • Well, compared to NetBeans … it will be speed – surely! Next thing is nice Git support (not only github, but bitbucket too via plugin)

  • Binoy

    Sorry to say.. Phpstorm is disappointing. A buggy software.. Installed on ubuntu 10.10.. On first run, the auto code completion, run and most of the features didn’t work.
    The “format code” option is not formating the comments properly. While running the code its showing error “the Php interpreter is not installed” and when we click on fix nothing seems to be working.
    I clicked on new project and given Twitter bootstrap as option and showing some error.
    Overall, the interface does not look user friendly also I didnt feel the software is fast in processing..

    • Are you using the EAP or version 4?

      • Tekin

        I am using PHPStorm EAP on Ubuntu 12.04 64 Bit and never had such problems like him.

        Did you check your Java version? I would guess that it is a Java and not PHPStorm problem.

  • I first discovered PHPStorm when I began a project with another programmer who recommended I also use PHPStorm so we could more easily collaborate. He has since dropped from the project and it is now squarely on my shoulders, and while I have shifted from his original plan a bit, one thing I am extremely pleased with was his getting me to start working with PHPStorm.

    My favorite feature HAS to be the ease with which to work with multiple servers. So I can do the daily work on the development server, then with a quick and simple adjustment I can switch to the main server to post the updated code once it gets proofed out.
    So happy I’ve moved from my old code editor, now to just find a good manual (or better yet tutorials) to help me learn more features of this great IDE!


  • Cain

    I used for long time Aptana Studio but when at work I start use GitHub and SVN at same time I thought about useing something else. Friend told me about PHPStorm so think about use it. Since then pass week and I’m in love with PHPStorm. I change even at home computer everythink for PHP Storm. Now I think its one of best code programs <3

  • James

    I’ve just started playing around with it but so far the stand-out features are the awesome codefolding and the git integration. It’s seems a bit sluggish but I guess 4GB just doesn’t cut it as a development platform these days

  • I’m really impressed with PHPStorm, I have used as trial. I really love it. And i have created a superb Dark Theme called Tubster(Textmate theme) for PHPStorm.
    Unfortunately my trial period expired. Sadly I switched into netbeans.
    I really want to participate in this giveaway.


  • I’ve been using phpStorm and I have to say it’s fantastic. I love that you can use it cross-platform and it also integrates greatly with JavaScript .

  • pzpl

    It’s fast, it’t super useful, it’s looking the same on every system!

  • Alan Gabriel Bem

    Speed and superior auto-completion. These are killer features of PhpStorm I like the most.
    Besides that there are things like PhpUnit integration, excellent GIT support or really cool debugging. I know open-source counterpart have those too, but PhpStorm done it better!

  • I’m running PHPStorm for a couple weeks now, it’s not OSX, but the Autocompletion is amazingly good. That’s the reason for me to stay with PHPStorm for bigger projects in stead of using Sublime

  • I was using BBEdit to code with before, and was enjoying the syntax highlighting the most (which showed me when I made typing errors in function names, etc., by not highlighting the word). But OMG! I LOVE PHPStorm! The syntax highlighting goes 10 steps further! It tells me if a variable has not been used elsewhere in a function…if it is not a valid class member…and the brace and quote completion saves typing, and headaches later (when a syntax error pops up…I’m good at catching small errors like this by now, but it still takes time!). I am convinced. It’s PHPStorm for me from now on!

  • The killer feature is refactoring… I like it!!!

    It is more fast than Netbeans and Eclipse :)

  • I need a better IDE in my life! Zend Studio is becoming so buggy and slow. I’ve heard a lot of things about PHPStorm and first impressions are good. Now I just need 2/3 hours to get a firm grip on it so I don’t hinder productivity.

  • Debugging PHP scripts and web applications using PHPStorm is so simple!

  • I use PHPStorm for 2 years, my favorite features are: language injection, integration with PHPUnit and Debug tools.

  • Ayub

    I’ve tested the beta 5.0 version. When using Sublime Text, I miss the IDE features PhpStorm offers like alt-clicking on a class / method to bring it up. Also really miss the code refactoring to a certain style. If only it matched Sublimes Speed!

  • john l

    PHP Intellisense (code completion) is excellent.

  • what a difference with zendstudio , that i’m using for 7 years now.
    perfect layout , good error indications, also errors in css files are well indicated. the only strange thing is the error ‘Failed to change timestamp of the file …’. Any idea what could be the reason ?


    • Andriy

      You mean when uploading to FTP? If so, then either FTP server does not support that command (MDTM) or uses different command/format for that (which is not currently supported by PhpStorm).

  • Tekin

    I use PHPStorm since about 2 years. For me the key features are that I have everything (FTP Upload, SVN/Git, Project) in one application and don’t need to run several. This was one of the reasons why I changed from PHP Eclipse to PHPStorm. Also it eats alot less RAM and CPU then Eclipse and the price in comparsion to Zend Studio is beyond discussion.

  • Joshua F.

    I like the ease of vcs integration, svn git whatever. It just works. Plus it has great support for windows and Mac

  • Ogi

    I gave it a try after reading this review, and I must say I am impressed with its speed. I have been using NetBeans for few years, but it seems I will stick with phpStorm for a while. I really like breadcrumbs on top which are very useful to me. I missed the project list and parallel opening few files from old project and browsing the old code while typing new one, but I got used to new window for a project quicker than I thought. Thumbs up for a great product!

  • I love the integration with xdebug on a remote server on the same network. Makes understanding new complex code much simpler and finding bugs and development becomes much easier.

    I also love that you can split the editor multiple times and have the same file open in multiple editors. so if you have long file you can split the editor top/bottom and have one section of the file showing around lines 600 while the bottom editor is showing the same file around lines 2500.

    The local history for a specific section is cool too. and that it runs in linux is cool. theres heaps of cool stuff. :)

  • chaud

    The speed is nice. I am trying it after using Netbeans for a long time, and it handles almost everything much faster. I do like the Netbeans autocomplete infoboxes more though.

  • Borut

    My favourite “feature” is the whole package, it just works very well and it’s IMHO the best PHP IDE available. In my 2 weeks testing I specially liked code completition and SVN integration.

  • D

    Code completion and speed – both excellent features.

  • lenamtl

    I’m usually using Notepad++, PhpStorm is an interesting solution with nice features.

  • elanciano

    Good bye Netbeans, Hello PhpStorm. Speed and code completion are great.

  • I’m developing mostly in PHP/MySQL and I’ve always used DW as my main editor because of the editor/color syntax and the integrated FTP and never used any other features. After reading some very positive reviews about phpStorm, I decided to give it a try.

    I tried many other IDE and text editors for PC and Mac, but I went always back to DW. After installing phpStorm and start playing around a bit, with my surprise I felt almost immediately comfortable.
    Set up a project was very easy and DW like, add the info for you local and remote server and you are ready to go. I reallty like the integrated FTP/SFTP it’s fast and it even better, it works. Many times DW FTP synch is a pain in the b***, it loses synchronization with the local files and most of the time it hangs when synching and uploading projects containing many files or pics.
    phpStorm editor simply blow DW out of the water, code completion, syntax highlighting, refactoring, etc.. is simply amazing. Git integration for me is the cherry on that cake and for the first time I don’t feel the need to going back to DW.
    PS:Sorry for my grammar, English is not my first language

  • Hi ,
    PhpStorm is an interesting solution with nice features.
    My Twitt :

  • K

    Like the syntax checking with deprecated warnings.
    Like the ability to import old projects into workspace.

  • I just LOVE its debugging abilities. Never seen something that performant, yet no infos are missing. Escpecially when combined with the bookmarklets. I surf my app, find a weird behavior -> click the bookmarklet and can see the reason for the weirdness right away.

    No need to set up a complicated debug config, just debug it and move on.

  • Nejo

    I love features like the phpcs conjunction, this is more polite than the Netbeans plugin. But the most i love is the dusplicate code detection fully integrated in the IDE.

  • Nithon

    Im coming from ZendStudio 9 i find PHPStorm gives me alot more
    performance as ZS likes to go crazy with the memory once i have ~20 projects.
    Structure Window loading much faster and showing the parent methods also helps alot.
    Another thing i really liked is the JS Integration :)

  • Nick P.

    I’ve been trialling PhpStorm for a few weeks now and my favourite features so far are
    1. PHP and JS code completion which I’ve found works really well.
    2. Instant finding of classes and projects files.
    3. Built-in JS Lint feature
    4. Built-in code inspection for different file types.

    *** my fingers crossed.

  • Best features: Fastest of Java based IDEs, superb intellisense, great VCS integration and debug.

  • Jeff

    I like the fact that I can handle my database stuff, my php stuff, and my javascript stuff all in one ide and all on GNU/Linux. Also, the autocomplete on all of those pieces works wonderfully as well.

  • I like phpStorm’s speed and usability in total. Nice interface

  • Jonathan

    Phpstorm is definitely the best php IDE out there. My favorite feature is CTRL+B. Just put the cursor on any symbol and hit that shortcut, you will be instantly teleported to its definition, it will even open the containing file for you. I’d love to win a license, or the book!

  • I have used NetBeans and still using it. I tried phpStorm and I am awed by the performance (speed wise) and some features which is offered by phpStrom (specifically converting the code to PSR standard) and which is not found in Net Beans. I will certainly move to phpStorm from my next project.

  • Shaoshiva

    For me the best feature is the speed !

  • Shamil Nunhuck

    I’ve played with PhpStorm for a quite a while and I have mixed feelings. I only reviewed the latest stable build, whilst I note that the new features in the current EAP makes this IDE win my heart over. Overall, it is a great IDE. It is fast, has a good set of features and is certainly useful. I particularly liked the fact that it is able to edit htaccess files. For those using an MVC framework, this could be beneficial. I was perplexed to see an spell check feature built into it. Nevertheless, it was somewhat useful, but I had to disable it given that a lot of my variables and function names were not even full words from the English language. The user interface is clean and is not vastly different from other IDEs. In fact, it is not cluttered and is very easy to use.

    The performance of the software is solid and it doesn’t use too many resources. Code completion seems adequate enough for me and I had no qualms with it. It’s PHP refactoring is very useful and does exactly what it should do and provides the flexibility I require. It seems to support Zen coding out of the box for HTML and CSS which is a plus, though I do not use this. Code Sniffer is quite good and rooted out problems as I opened files. It has a good set of HTML/CSS and JavaScript features which makes this IDE useful for those working with all technologies, not just PHP. These features I found to be rich and not lacking. Publishing options via FTP and GIT were pretty much what I expected, and similar to others I have seen. VCS, SVN integration etc was also pretty good. phpDoc integration likewise was well in helping me generate more useful comments surrounding my code. Debugging with PhpStorm was standard and the visual elements was helpful in assisting me with my code. I noticed that it has the option of using themes, and I see that few themes are published for use. The selection was small albeit conducive to making my working environment as best as possible. SASS support is great.

    The only feature I felt it lacked was the somewhat non-existent support for project management. Unlike with competitors such as Zend Studio / Eclipse, project management is somewhat non-existant in that I am not able to work on multiple projects simultaneously. I looked around on the support forums to see if I could find anything, but was not able to identify if JetBrains is actively seeking to rectify this. I note that an issue is logged on their bug tracker system in relation to this feature.

    In summary, this is a very good PHP IDE. It certainly has some very positive attributes, such as performance and its very rich feature-set. I had a good time using PhpStorm, and it was a pleasant experience. I commend JetBrains on maintaining PhpStorm with such a rich feature-set, its superb performance and its general positive development focus in which new trends are being assimilated at a sound rate and would certainly recommend this IDE.

  • Rob

    My favourite feature is the use of Live templates.

  • We recently got our files back from a front end designer who’s editing program didn’t use a standard (for windows) /r/n so when we edited any changes the compiler didn’t recognise the carriage returns and so the code was destroyed.
    One email to phpstorm (trial account too) and they give me full instructions on how to fix this based on a developer plug-in (along with drop box URL and direct download links).
    Not only did I get help support from these guys for a trial product, they also solved my own code problem that wasn’t caused by their software.
    Great support guys of a great IDE.

  • PHPStorm is the IDE of choice for the agency that I’ve been contracting for recently. I’ve been using it for about 6 weeks and I have to say that I love it! The way it seamlessly hooks up to SVN & JIRA is fantastic coupled with its phenomenal intellisense, It’s lifted my productivity no end – I only wish I had my own copy :-)

  • Alex

    All my friends use PhpStorm (They are php developers) last half year as minimum.
    I like:
    speed of work,
    ZF integration,
    more intelligent tips
    control variables, methods and functions used and more…

  • i love PhpStrom history feature, that save my life, my boss give me reward, thanks phpstrom

  • phpcs feature is incredible.
    basically I can write “standardized” code on the fly :)

  • neel

    I’ve been using it for about 10 weeks and I have to say that I love it!

  • John

    I really think it is rich bashing on Apple while promoting a Java based product, they are both two sides of the same coin.
    That being said, I find this review incredibly biased, instead of basing your review on actual web development, you compare one Java IDE to another, I don’t give much for these “blazing fast” speeds when you are comparing it to a dead slow IDE.

  • Dave Schwab

    In the past I’ve used Netbeans and Eclipse for PC and Mac. Both proved slow and Eclipse would crash frequently. PhpStorm is unbelievably fast and reliable. I run it for days at a time without a reboot, when it finally does start slowing down I reboot and keep on plugging. The IDE manages namespaces well: Type a function name and it suggests any matches in any namespaces. This feature helps maintain my sanity because I never have trouble finding that one function I need. Also, Control-J brings up the function’s PHPdoc, which is indispensable when you don’t want to keep opening various other files in your project. You can stay right where you’re working and get info on all the function’s details both in the project and also in PHP as well. I run this on Mac OS X Mountain Lion without any problems.

  • Yes I have used Netbeans and did find it to be slow. However, I must apologize because I have never made it past HTML-Kit which is enough for me as a simple php programmer for information and database driven websites. That said, I doubt Oracle will ever bother with Netbeans. I am sure they are content with their many assets and achievements to date.

  • Jack

    Some terribly uninformed bashing of Java!! Java is on par with C++ in terms of speed. Only sloppy coding would cause significant chugging.

    • Laap Saap

      yeah if you dont use memory.

  • NuSphere has unbeatable debugger – cannot compare to XDebug – based IDEs. Other features that PHPStorm offers are nice, but some of them worked strangely (tested about 1.5 year ago – may be now it’s all fixed). PHPStorm is my choice No. 2 after PHPEd by NUSphere.

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