Andi Gutmans, co-founder of Zend Technologies, and others are now presenting the PHP IDE Eclipse plugin, which, announced last October, is one of the best potential tools on the horizon (the near horizon) for the 2.5 million PHP developers out in the development world. As many of you may know, Zend has the Zend Studio software, a PHP-centric IDE built on Swing. Zend made the decision to get involved in the Eclipse project because, according to Andi, of the enormous and thriving Eclipse community.
Sure, Eclipse developers are currently mainly Java developers. With the new PHP IDE plugin, PHP developers will have native debugging, syntax highlighting, and, eventually, support for MySQL and other database support directly within the Eclipse IDE.
Whereas the Eclipse project isn’t “all about the IDE”, as I’ve been told many times since coming to the conference here, the PHP IDE project is definitely IDE-centric. Currently, I’m not sure how the PHP IDE plugin will compete with the Zend Studio project line, but hopefully before my afternoon meeting with Zmanda, a MySQL backup software company, I can speak with Andi Gutmans and get an answer on that question. MySQL will be collaborating with Zend and IBM on the PHP IDE project, although I am not sure at this point what that involvement will entail. More on this to come.
The PHP IDE plugin demonstration is pretty darn slick! If you’ve seen and used Eclipse as an IDE, then you already know the IDE’s well-laid-out interfaces. The PHP IDE plugin simply extends this interface functionality further, adding PHP function completion (and, no, it doesn’t take 3 seconds to pull up the function list…) along with very nice project management facilities that allow you to manage include paths and other things like PHP options and server variables. This alone is my favorite feature, that truly brings PHP developers a welcome functionality that, IMHO, has always been a pain to handle in PHP development.
The question remains, however, as to adoption of PHP 5. The demo, of course, used PHP 5 as the development language. I’m not sure if the PHP IDE plugin fully functions with PHP 4. I’ll try to get answers for that as well.
If you are a PHP developer, currently using another IDE (perhaps Bluefish, Dreamweaver) or a text editor of some sort, you owe it to yourself to check out this new project and track its progress as releases start to come out of this Eclipse sub-project. Very cool stuff.