Last month I downloaded Jetbrain’s PHPStorm IDE and tried it for nearly a month. The main reason for the trial is that Eclipse simply doesn’t meet what I need. It is a great IDE offering lots of features, but it is slow and crashes often. I have been suggested through the LinkedIn discussion that lots of people love PHPStorm, even though it is a commercial product. So I decided to give it a try and ask my boss to pay for it if it meets what I need :).

Pros:

1. Speed – Even though PHPStorm is based on Java as well, its performance is much better than Eclipse. The indexing is not lightening fast, but faster enough to make me happy. The autocompletion is really handy at reasonable performance.

2. Inline diff – It immediately shows the diff you have made to a file by simply click on the icon next to the line number bar, and allow you to undo or copy the old text if you wish. Eclipse lacks this feature but Netbean does.

3. Class search + File search – I guess the main reason for them to break search into class and file is the performance, so when you are search classes, all other ordinary files can be skipped, and it is fast. Eclipse’s open file feature is not bad either.

4. PHPStorm’s SVN support is quite good, from what I can see anyway, although I don’t use this feature much. I am more of a command line user when it comes to managing svn files, some how I feel more comfortable do these stuff on a shell :).

5. Smart SQL support and syntax highlighting – not just php syntax. PHPStorm is smart enough to figure out whether a given string is SQL query or not and highlight it accordingly.

6. It tells you when there are unused variables in your code. If a variable is not used in the current function, it will be highlighted as grey:

 

Cons:

1. PHPStorm is Java based, which makes it another memory hungry IDE:

I just used a few hours and it jumped to more than 400M already. And sometimes it actually jumped to more than 700MB of memory usage and I am certain that once you are in the debugging mode, the memory usage will be much higher.

2. It is hard to work on two or more different projects under PHPStorm, as it doesn’t allow you to show more than one projects at a time. You will have to keep switching back and forward:

Update: You can actually open more than one projects in different windows

3. When you have lots of files open, it is hard to see which file you are currently on in the tab section, the color chosen is really poor:

Update: PHPStorm 3 has slightly better tab colors:

4. Well, it is commercial and you have to pay. It cost $200 for commercial use and $100 for personal.

Conclusion:

So far I quite like PHPStorm compared with Eclipse. The performance  + SVN integration with inline diff are the key winner. I am certain that there are still lots of great features out there that are yet to be discovered. I will certainly persuade my boss to pay for the license as I will get performance gain out of this IDE.

Inspired by – Rich’s PHPStorm – my week’s trial

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