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    Why PHP is the topic of most conversations among developers?

    Before we dive into why exactly PHP is commonly known among developers and what are the best PHP development tools let’s go through the basics.

    What is PHP? What’s the full form of PHP?

    PHP is an acronym for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor" and it is a widely-used, open-source scripting language. PHP scripts are executed on the server and PHP is free to download and use.

    PHP is an amazingand popular language which makes it the topic of most conversations among not only PHP developers, but among developers in general. PHP is also easy enough to be a beginner's first server-side language which is powerful enough to be at the core of the biggest blogging system on the internet (WordPress) and is deep enough to run the most widely used and popular social (Facebook)!

    What can PHP do? What is a PHP file?

    PHP can do the following:

    • It can generate a dynamic page content
    • It can create, open, read, write, delete, and close files on the server
    • It can collect form data
    • It can send and receive cookies
    • It can add, delete, modify data in your database
    • It can be used to control user-access and can encrypt data.

    Thus PHP files are not limited to output in HTML, it can output images, PDF files, and even Flash movies. Using it, a PHP developer can also output any text, such as XHTML and XML.PHP code is executed on the server, and the result is returned to the browser as plain HTML. PHP files have extension ".php".

    Why PHP?

    A PHP developer has access not only to PHP development tools and free PHP tools but also to some of the best PHP development tools. Here’s how PHP and the best PHP development tools can serve you:

    PHP runs on multiple platforms [Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, etc.] and is compatible with almost every server used today [Apache, IIS, etc.]

    PHP supports a wide range of databases which is free and can be downloaded from the official PHP resource: www.php.net

    PHP is easy to learn and runs efficiently and effectively on the server-side and on almost every server used as of now.

    What are the best PHP development tools?

    PHP is the fastest, easiest, and most popularly used server-side scripting language for building websites and web apps. Most developers prefer PHP as compared to Ruby and Python because of multiple reasons mentioned above. Numerous ready-to-use scripts, detailed documentation, well-supported frameworks, a huge community,etc. are some of the things PHP encompasses. Not only it is very easy to get started with PHP, but also it makes sense perfectly to provide the huge community of to provide the ever-growing community of PHP Developers with an overview of the best PHP development tools and resources to make their development process easier and more effective.

    Here are some of the best PHP development tools:

    PHPStorm – PHPStorm is the most preferred tool to other PHP development tools as PHPStorm is lightweight, lightning-fast, and smooth. This PHP IDE works well with PHP frameworks like Zend Framework, Symfony, Yii, Laravel, CakePHP, and with popular Content Management Systems (CMS) like Drupal, Magento, and WordPress. This IDE provides live editing support for major front-end technologies like CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, etc. while supporting code refactoring, unit testing, and debugging and it also empowers PHP developers to integrate databases, remote deployment, version control systems, command-line tools, composer, client and a lot of other tools.

    Zend Studio – Without including ZendStudio no list could ever be complete as most web or PHP developers opt for Zend Studio because of its optimal speed. Zend Studio takes PHP development to the next level as writing and debugging codes in Zend Studio is neither time-taking nor demands any extra effort and time from developers. Zend Studio consists of a sophisticated set of features and can deploy to any server including servers in the cloud which debugs PHP scripts by integrating X-ray, Xdebug, and Zend Debugger. Zend Studio is perfectly optimized for PHP 7 thus making it faster as compared to previous versions. Its comprehensive PHP IDE comes with an exciting set of features and is powered to deploy applications on various servers including servers in the cloud. Developers can extend Zend Studio via Eclipse plugins.

    Eclipse PDT – Though Eclipse started just as an IDE but as of now, it has become much more than that today in terms of functionalities and characteristics. Being a complete development tool, it ranks in the list of top PHP tools.Eclipse PDT also aids you to customize and extend the IDE to address the needs of the project and this PHP IDE can also support both GUI and non-GUI applications. This cross-platform PHP editor is ideal for large-scale PHP projects while providing the freedom to select from a broad range of plugins, it makes it easier to develop as well as simplify the complex PHP code. However,Eclipse uses a considerable amount of computing resources which could be limited for smaller companies.

    NuSpherePhpED – NuSphere providesPhpED which is a proprietary integrating PHP development tool. This PHP IDE encompasses advanced PHP editor, Profiler, PHP debugger, and database client & code insight which in turn provides the developers several tools and tweaks that will make the whole web development process less time-taking and cumbersome. PhpEd speeds up the application development process with the help of the commercial PHP accelerator called PhpExpress and it is an ideal option to develop complex websites and web applications. PhpED allows developers to work through the most popular PHP frameworks like Laravel, Zend, and Yii.

    NetBeans – It is one of the most widely used PHP IDE for PHP app development. It supports multiple languages like Japanese, Russian, English, Brazilian Portuguese, and simplified Chineseand was initially used for Java development, but the current version of this tool is lightweight and a lot faster. It consists of extension which can support other programming languages like C, C++, and HTML5. It also makes it easier in developing large-scale web apps. This open-source PHP development tool can work with almost all popular PHP frameworks, including Zend, Symfony 2, CakePHP, FuelPHP, Smarty, and WordPress CMS. NetBeans PHP IDE offers various features specific to developing web applications with the recent versions of PHP.

    SimpleTest – SimpleTest is one neat, straight-forward, and easy-to-use testing platform for PHP applications. There are multiple tutorials available which you can thoroughly read through to get up and running with SimpleTest quickly which will help you to create a new test case.

    Cloud 9 – The best part about Cloud 9 is that it is open-source which provides cloud IDE and a development environment for hundreds of programming languages and PHP, C, C++, JavaScript, Python are the names a few. Developers can use the workspace and build web applications with features like browser compatibility testing & live preview using which they can start coding immediately. Developers can also collaborate with their colleagues or other developers using coding features that are collaborative and it also enables you to take your PHP projects from anywhere. As Cloud9 ensures the effortless building of serverless applications, you can just code with your browser which in turn offers a flawless experience for creating serverless apps, enabling you to define resources, execute serverless apps and debug at the remote.

    PHP¬_Debug – It provides useful information about the PHP code which can be used for debugging and to top that up it is an open-source project. PHP_Debug can be helpful if you need a more visual output than the one given to you by print_r() or var_dump() and to check the performance of particular code blocks, and get variable dumps in graphical form.

    Aptana Studio – Aptana Studio is a PHP development tool that is open source and used in integration with various server-side and client-side web technologies in which PHP, Python, CSS3, Ruby on Rails, Ruby, and HTML5 are some of these technologies.It allows PHP programmers to build as well as test web applications in one environment which comes with SFTP, FTP, and IDE customization. Aptana Studio is a powerful web development engine that leverages the flexibilities of Eclipse and comprises details about the range of support for each element in the leading web browsers. Aptana Studio is a high-performance PHP IDE and includes a wide range of attractive features to increase your productivity by hardly consuming any time.

    ScriptCase - Scriptcase is one of the powerful PHP tools that are widely used to generate web apps in PHP. These applications leverage connections to databases and report generation. Using ScriptCase you can create Menus, Charts, Forms, and Reports automatically with a few clicks.The underlying software allows you to go from prototype to production in a matter of seconds.This PHP Form Builder can build large web systems just within a few hours thereby saves your time and effort. It supports multiple languages including Italian, French, Spanish, and English. This tool is geared for mid-sized companiesto rapidly scale their applicationsfor developing applications in CodeIgniter and Laravel.

    Selenium or Selenium Test – It enables PHP developers to produce automated Web app UI tests in any scripting language. Selenium Remote Control (RC) allows you to write automated Web application UI tests in any programming language against any HTTP website by putting to use any mainstream JavaScript-enabled browser. All OS like Windows, Linux, Mac, etc supports the selenium PHP tool.One can use it in conjunction with PHPUnit and create and run automated tests within a Web browser.

    These tools mentioned above are some of the best PHP development as per most PHP developers. However, the list above is not exhaustive as these PHP development tools aren't the only ones available in the market. You can find many more free PHP tools and paid ones too! However, the tools listed on this blog are mostly the 'best PHP development tools' that meet every requirement of almost every PHP development project. Keep in mind that new PHP IDEs are popping out every day; it is always the right thing to do to keep an open eye on the latest trends and developments in PHP.

    About the Author

    Kamal Rastogi is a serial IT entrepreneur with 25 yrs plus experience. Currently his focus area is Data Science business, ERP Consulting, IT Staffing and Experttal.com (Fastest growing US based platform to hire verified / Risk Compliant Expert IT resources from talent rich countries like India, Romania, Philippines etc...directly). His firms service clients like KPMG, Deloitte, EnY, Samsung, Wipro, NCR Corporation etc in India and USA.

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