capsule review

phpDesigner

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder phpDesigner

    PCWorld Rating

Web development is often a scrambled task, requiring abrupt switches between different Web sites, different programming languages, and different frameworks. An integrated development tool like phpDesigner 7 is necessary if you want to keep your head from spinning. phpDesigner is a full-fledged PHP, CSS, HTML, and JavaScript editor, with code completion and syntax highlighting for all four languages. Like any proper IDE, phpDesigner also allows you to debug and test code on your local machine.

PhpDesigner's syntax highlighting is context sensitive; when you're editing code in one language, all code in other languages is grayed out. This is great in situations such as editing PHP code which is interspersed between HTML. The code completion system is robust enough to include any extra frameworks and libraries you're using. To get it working with the rapid development framework CakePHP, and the essential JavaScript library jQuery, all I had to do was include their files in my project.

For debugging, phpDesigner uses the popular Xdebug. The interface and features are standard. phpDesigner can also run PHP code without debugging, and the resulting Web page will launch in a browser of your choice. Note that for full testing, you may need to set up a local Web server, which phpDesigner does not include. For a quick and easy setup, try XAMPP, which includes the Apache web server preconfigured with MySQL and PHP.

PhpDesigner also has a full set of tools for deploying code. The handiest is built-in FTP support. For rapid development, not having to use a separate FTP program for pushing changes is an indispensable convenience. phpDesigner also provides a convenient version control system by integrating with TortoiseSVN.

PhpDesigner has all the extra goodies you'd expect, including code-cleanup tools, the standard documentation tool phpDocumentor, and a diff/merge utility. The only thing that phpDesigner is missing is an integrated database interface. But such implementations usually fall short anyway, and the popular phpMyAdmin is tough to beat for database management. While having so many features, phpDesigner remains intuitive to use. This makes it a valuable tool for any Web developer, beginner or professional.

Note: This software costs 29 Euros for non-commercial use and 69 Euros for commercial use. The price given here is for a non-commercial license, converted to US dollars for the date this review was posted.

--Gabe Gralla

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Develop PHP Web applications in a full-featured IDE.

    Pros

    • Fully supports PHP, CSS, HTML, and Javascript; Allows local debugging; Integrated FTP support

    Cons

    • No integrated database support
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