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Open Source / Software Development

PHP IDEs: CodeLobster PHP Edition or JetBrains PhpStorm?

May 5th, 2017 9:48am by
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Those who dare to make an integrated development environment for PHP in today’s world are signing up for much more than bringing together a PHP editor, debugger, and a few supporting tools. Typically, a PHP developer’s stack also includes HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and some flavor of SQL; not to mention any number of front-end preprocessors or model view controller (MVC) frameworks.

This means that for any PHP development environment to stand a chance in the vast ecosystem of editors and IDEs, it should have plugins and convenience features for all of these adjoining technologies.

There are a few development environments that meet these criteria: CodeLobster PHP Edition, JetBrains PhpStorm, and Adobe Dreamweaver.

Since Dreamweaver offers so many abstractions over the actual coding process, we’ll shift the focus of this analysis to CodeLobster and PhpStorm.

CodeLobster has plugin support for every major PHP MVC framework along with plugins for a growing number of JavaScript libraries. This kind of plugin support is hard to find in a PHP IDE so it’s no surprise that you’ll have to buy CodeLobster’s $99 top-tier license to use them.

CodeLobster’s HTML/CSS code inspector.

That license will also get you access to the use of sub-tier features, which in this case include version control and CSS preprocessor support among other luxuries.

JetBrains PhpStorm brings all of these features to the table but packs a bit more of a punch in the plugin section, by offering over 250 plugins. Also tied into PhpStorm is integrated testing with PHPUnit; an important feature for production code bases.

Licensing for PhpStorm must be renewed annually, starting at $89 decreasing to $53 the third year onward. Want a commercial license? That bumps the price up anywhere from $199 depending on your number of users. However, an important note is that students, teachers, and startups can obtain licenses totally free.

While the annual licensing model for PhpStorm adds up to a large sum, in the long run, the company’s consideration for developers outside of the corporate marketplace is admirable.

CodeLobster has taken a freemium approach that delivers a watered down version of the software unless one purchases one of their two licenses — Lite or Professional. The Lite version runs $39.95 and the professional version runs $99.95.

The strangest thing about CodeLobster is that it is only available for Windows. Searching in hopes for future Unix support, I came across a CodeLobster official forum where a community of Mac and Linux users were inquiring and willing to port CodeLobster to Unix themselves if necessary. To which Codelobster Inc. was not interested and even made an official statement saying “We think that Linux users haven’t a habit to pay for used software. Therefore we will not develop [a] Linux version.”

It seems odd that after overcoming so many of the challenges associated with PHP IDEs that CodeLobster would choose to exclude such a large portion of the programming community. Considering that JetBrains offers a fully-featured and completely cross-platform solution for the PHP IDE space, I think CodeLobster may start to feel constriction in the future.

Feature image: The Phpstorm IDE, from JetBrains.

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