I think my previous posts have already indicated that my development environment, specifically my IDE, is important to me, and that I make a habit of exploring my options on a regular basis. For the last 7 months I've been using NuSphere's PhpED, which I've really enjoyed. The only things that I've been just a little dissatisfied with is that it only runs on windows and that its window arranging capabilities are not as robust as Eclipse. But, having seen a few tweets about NetBeans, I decided to visit this old acquaintance once again.
I had used NetBeans ages ago when I was learning a little bit of Java. It was good enough... for Java. Then, some time ago I had tried NetBeans 6 (I don't recall which minor version), because I learned they were working on building a PHP IDE out of NetBeans, which intrigued me. At the time, I simply felt NetBeans didn't stack up to Eclipse, and I hadn't yet discovered PhpED. However, with some recent twitter traffic about NetBeans, I figured I'd give the latest incarnation a spin to kick the wheels a little.
I tend to consider myself a technical user, and for years, I operated various Linux distributions and setups to facilitate our home network. Mostly this meant a place to dump our backups in an intelligent manner, but I would also setup things like easy file sharing between our computers and even get fancy sometimes and so music servers or video streaming (though we never actually used any of that). However, after years of putting a lot of effort into maintaining that type of setup (keeping things organized, re-configuring everything after a workstation re-install, reconfiguring the server after a Linux re-install, etc), I decided I wanted something simple, that "just works." To be fair, part of my problem with using Linux was that the Linux box doubled as my development and testbed server, so I was always tinkering with it. Instead, I needed a box that would serve our family home network and not be my tinker box.
Enter Windows Home Server.
As I explained in my previous post, I've been on the hunt for a new PHP IDE. During past searches for this type of tool, I've always taken a glance at NuSphere's PhpED and usually went away screaming rather quickly because of how clunky, ugly, and just plain annoying the interface was (keep reading, though, they fixed this!). My last look at PhpED was verison 5.2 quite some time ago -- it was a good improvement over previous PhpED versions, but it couldn't compete with the Eclipse-based options (at least in the terms that mattered to me).
Which brings me to an important note: what I look for in an IDE is probably not exactly what another coder will look for in an IDE. From what I've experienced, choice of tools for most coders is 50% features/capabilities and 90% preference (oh hai, math!). For me, here is a list of features that are important: