General purpose web development tools with PHP support
Two of the most widely used integrated development environments (IDEs) for building websites, Adobe
Dreamweaver (www.adobe.com/products/dreamweaver/) and Microsoft Expression Web
(www.microsoft.com/expression/products/web_overview.aspx), have built-in support for PHP.
• Dreamweaver CS5: Dreamweaver is a good, standards-compliant visual editor. PHP support
was taken to a completely new level in Dreamweaver CS5 with the addition of syntax checking,
embedded documentation (complete with examples), and autocompletion of variables.
Particularly useful is the ability to work in PHP includes, while keeping the main page visible in
Dedicated script editors
Even if you dont plan to do a lot of PHP development, you should consider using a dedicated script editor
if your web development IDE doesnt support syntax checking. The following dedicated script editors have
all the essential features, such as syntax checking and code hints. They also support HTML and CSS but
lack the visual display offered by Dreamweaver or Expression Web.
• Zend Studio (www.zend.com/en/products/studio/): If youre really serious about PHP
development, Zend Studio is the most fully featured IDE for PHP. Its created by Zend, the
company run by leading contributors to the development of PHP. Zend Studio runs on
Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Its main drawback is cost, although the price includes 12
months of free upgrades and support.
• PhpED (www.nusphere.com/products/phped.htm): This is available in three different
versions. The least expensive version has all the features you need as a beginner. If you need
the more advanced features later, you can upgrade to one of the other versions. Windows
• PHP Development Tools (www.eclipse.org/pdt/): PDT is actually a cut-down version of
Zend Studio and has the advantage of being free. The disadvantage is that at the time of this
writing, the documentation for PDT is almost nonexistent. It runs on Eclipse, the open source
IDE that supports multiple computer languages. If you have used Eclipse for other languages,
you should find it relatively easy to use. PDT runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux and is
available either as an Eclipse plug-in or as an all-in-one package that automatically installs
Eclipse and the PDT plug-in.
• Komodo Edit (www.activestate.com/komodo-edit): This is a free, open source IDE for
PHP and a number of other popular computer languages. Its available for Windows, Mac OS X,
and Linux. Its a cut-down version of Komodo IDE, which is a paid-for program with more
advanced features. There are separate download links for a free trial of Komodo IDE, which is
time-limited, and for Komodo Edit, which doesnt expire.