Top IDEs for PHP Development

As you can easily tell from the title, this article contains the list of the top PHP IDEs. You can go ahead and use your regular text editor such as notepad++ to do your PHP programming work but trust me it is a lot harder. A better way of doing PHP programming is to use a PHP IDE (Integrated Development Environment), as they come with a plethora of features and functionalities using PHP programming support. 

There are a number of IDEs available in the market, both free and paid, and picking one can be a tricky job. That’s why I’ve brought this list of the top PHP IDEs. Before, we move on further let me make one thing completely clear; this is a highly subjective list. It’s by no means complete or written in stone. With that said, here is a list of top six IDEs for PHP, in no particular order.


Sitting at the top of the stack is PHPStorm. Literally the best one so far, PHPStorm comes packed with the freshest set of features, all the features that you need to have while doing rapid web development. 

Developed by JetBrains and written in Java, PHPStorm has become a popular choice of PHP developers around the globe. Mainly, because it provides access and integration with sturdy version control systems, different databases, PHP MySQL development tool, rest client & command line tools and a number of other great tools to work with PHP. From debugging viewpoint, it works with Zend Debugger and Xdebug, both remotely and locally.

An enterprise grade IDE, PHPStorm comes with a license price and largely targets specialized developers. However, for students and teachers, it is free of cost.

When I say it’s one of the best PHP IDE, it’s not just my personal opinion it’s a fact, one that can be easily proved; big wigs such as Yahoo, Cisco, Wikipedia, and Salesforce have bought PHPStorm IDE licenses.

Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools)

It is a language IDE plug-in for the Eclipse platform and the open-source project that develops it. The highly used open source IDE has the support of the strong community of Eclipse developers working on all sorts of plug-ins, requisite to authorize Eclipse with features that any other best PHP IDE such as PHPStorm, NetBeans, and so forth, has to provide.

Some of its most essential features includes syntax highlighting, PHPUnit, code formatting, content assist, PHP profiling (Zend Debugger / Xdebug), refactoring, code navigation, code templates, PHP debugging (Zend Debugger / Xdebug), and syntax validation.

To start off with, you can download Eclipse package for PHP developers.


NetBeans, as a PHP developer I’m sure you’ve must have heard this name before. Basically, it’s an IDE for Java and has extensions for other languages such as PHP, C, C++, HTML5, and JavaScript. Around since more than two decades, it is still going, and is faster than other editors, and provides the best support resources for all the rage PHP frameworks like Zend, Smarty Doctrine, and Symfony2. It even supports Laravel through Laravel-ide-helper.

Free and open source, it allows applications to be developed from a set of modular software components called modules. Ever since its release, NetBeans boosts one of the largest communities of developers operational on an open source IDE being downloaded Eighteen+ million times.

Some of the essential features that keep NetBeans on the top of the list comprise code generation tools like getter setter generation, smart code completion, code templates, quick fixes, hints and refactoring. Other fundamental features supported include try/catch code completion, code folding, and formatting as well as rectangular selection.

When it comes to debugging, you can moreover use a command line or xDebug together locally and remotely. 

Sublime Text 3

One I thing I have experienced in my career is that whenever I go to any seminar or developer conferences regarding PHP development best practices, Sublime Text is the tool that is always in discussion (I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people that’ll agree with me).

Lightweight and supported on all three operating systems; macOS, Windows & Linux, the Sublime text editor is put up to gain its powers through different plug-ins and packages. The quickly integrated Package Manager allows users to find, install, upgrade and remove plug-ins directly from inside the editor — usually with no restart required.

There are a lot of PHP packages accessible out there; with their help you can turn this smart editor into a graceful Sublime PHP IDE. Some of the most helpful and noteworthy packages for this purpose consist of package control, xDebug client – CodeBug, Sublime PHP companion, Simple PHPUnit, PHPCS, CodIntel, and PHPDoc.

Once you group Sublime text 3 as a PHP IDE with aid of add-on packages, you get classiness of sublime text as well as the sturdiness of PHP at one place, for an utter easiness of PHP development.

You can download this powerful tool for markup and coding for free, however, officially it is not. After the evaluation period you are supposed to get a license for continued use. However, the download page itself states that there is no enforced time limit for evaluation which makes it appear more of a voluntary thing. If you do decide to get a license it will cost you $80. 

NuSphere PhpED 

NuSphere is a US-based software company that is keen on developing best tools to step up web development experience and PhpED is the PHP editor developed by that company for PHP based applications.

It supports all the PHP versions including the most recent one along with new as well as old PHP frameworks which includes Laravel, Yii and Symfony to mention a few, along with the CMSs like WordPress and Joomla. The added feature with the most up-to-date release is the capability to run unit tests for mutually local and remote projects.

Balanced combination of advanced code editor, reliable dbg debugger and fast and secure deployment abilities make this NuSphere product a complete solution for most sophisticated developer needs.

Zend Studio

Take any “Extremely Useful PHP Tools” list in the world you would always find the Zend Studio in it. A product of Zend technologies, it is counted amongst the top commercial PHP IDE that targets proficient web developers.

Zend is another company that is keen on developing best tools to step up web development experience; it has a huge number of clientele utilizing one or other of its products. Some of its top clients incorporate companies like DHL, BNP Paribas Credit Suisse, and Agilent Technologies.

Zend Studio is enabled on all three OSs; Windows, OS X, & Linux and works with most recent PHP versions counting PHP 7. Zend Studio comes with an intelligent UI and offers most of the up to date features and tools that allows to speed up PHP and web development with multiple purposes. Some of the most essential features of this PHP IDE include:

  • Swifter performance in indexing, validation and searching PHP code
  • Debug using Xdebug, Zend Debugger, and Z-Ray in Zend Server.
  • Take advantage of tools such as Eclipse plug-ins, Docker, and GitFlow.
  • Deployment sustenance which included cloud support for Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure
  • Backing for PHP 7 express migration and flawless integration with Zend server

A powerful feature of Zend is its support for mobile app development on the peak of live PHP apps and server system backend. This offers a good initiation in development when it comes to harmonizing present websites and web applications with mobile-based apps.

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