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Archive for February, 2009

Zend Studio 6.1: Wrong Way to Enhance a PHP IDE!

February 16th, 2009

In the past two weeks I have been doing some serious PHP development. Unlike .NET development where Microsoft’s Visual Studio is second to none, in PHP there was never a clear winner. So, I have decided to take the latest Zend Studio, version 6.1 on eclipse, for a spin.

As always, I give Zend, the company who created PHP a lot of respect. But with my usage of the Zend Studio IDE I have found more annoyances than features that helped me gain productivity. Here are some of the bad items I could not resist but rant about:

1. The entire solution now seems ‘gummy’. Where are the days when we can go through multiple PHP projects, and multiple PHP files in a few clicks and the IDE still feels ‘light’? Well, it doesn’t. In fact the more I use it the more this new IDE feels ‘yuck’.

2. My experience with the file/project manager on the left hand side was poor at best. If you have some scripts that update a file with fopen(), fwrite() – I had to force refresh on the parent folder of the updated file otherwise the IDE shows an error message when I try to open the updated file. What?

3. Auto complete is a little wierd. Ok, maybe a lot wierd. I really miss the auto complete that Zend Studio 5.5 used to have. While it is evident that the algorithms are trying their best to be smart, the whole user experience with the location of the auto complete windows, tabs vs enter keys to confirm the selection, and some inconsitencies in UI brings my frustration to uncharted levels. Dear Zend Develop team, can you please download and try Visual Studio and copy the ease of use? not hard to do.

4. Do I really need to create a new project, give it a name, choose a folder if all I want is a new PHP file? really? Do you ask your online users to fill out a 20 field form for a simple contact inquery? I DONT THINK SO.

5. Two files that I need my IDE to handle well: XML and SQL. All I ask for is to show me the text, dress it up with color, and handle nice any auto completion in a smart way. In this new versin of Zend Studio I was simply not able to open some XML files or the rigid editing of it made it impossible to work within the IDE, Notepad served nice in those cases. But this means failure to the IDE’s interface.

Conclusion
I do not know what made Zend decide on choosing a wrong turn with the latest version of Zend Studio (6.1). But it seems like the Zend team have decided to sacrifice a lot of functionality in order to cut on development efforts that the eclipse IDE supposedly provides. The only problem here is that eclipse’s features are weak and not good enough to be considered a good starting point for any PHP IDE who wishes to be claimed the best.

Time to try something new, the buzz seems to favor the latest PHP IDE by NuSphere: PHPEd.

PHP/MySQL, Web Development , , , ,