7+ Best PHP Development Environments [2022 Unbiased Review]

php development environments

What are the best PHP development environments available this 2022? You’re in luck as I’ve compiled my top 7+ recommendations (free and paid).

Based on W3Tech’s data, 78.4% of all websites are written in PHP. This simply proves that PHP remains to be a powerful choice.

It isn’t surprising because it’s one of the most adaptable and scalable for web and app development. I’ve created tons of feature-rich PHP projects in the past, and here are the best PHP development environments that are worth exploring.

If you have little time to spare, you can check out my top 3 picks instead: PhpStorm, Codeanywhere, and Komodo IDE.

What Is The Best PHP Development Environment?


PHPStorm

4.8

CodeAnywhere

4.5

Komodo IDE

4.2
Best overall. Easiest to use and get started with a highly intuitive user interface. Starts at $199/month.Best value for money. Offers a feature-rich development environment. Starts at $3.60/month.Most features. Supports over 100+ programming languages with enterprise-grade support. Free version available.
Try PHPStormTry CodeAnywhereTry Komodo IDE

1. PhpStorm – Top Pick

PhpStorm: Cross-Platform Integrated Development Environment

Cross-Platform Integrated Development Environment For PHP [$199 a month/user]

PHP development environments are created differently. If you’re looking for one that truly understands your code, then PhpStorm is your best choice.

Its development environment is built on top of JetBrains’ open-source IntelliJ platform.

Therefore, you can expect a unified user interface. Here are a few of the tasks you can do and built-in developer tools you can use:

  • Support various Version Control System (VCS) integration (Mercurial, git, GitHub, SVN, and Perforce)
  • Remote deployment
  • Databases and SQL
  • Command-line tools
  • Composer

JetBrains also put convenience in mind, and they delivered it by building intelligent coding assistance within their code editor.

PhpStorm Guide: Intelligent Coding Assistance

Its primary tasks are to help you write codes that are easy to maintain. It’s equipped with code quality analysis for error prevention.

As you write the codes, this feature will inspect them and provide quick fixes (press Alt + Enter to see your options).

You can also code quickly, thanks to its automatic code completion. When you write a specific code, this feature will provide the classes, methods, variable names, and PHP keywords to complete the structure.

Another time-saving feature it includes is designed for navigation and search.

You can use the following codes to locate any elements in your code quickly:

  • Go to class/file/symbol: Use abbreviations and wild-cards to find items
  • Go to declaration: Best for locating function, variable, and label
  • Find Usages: Find any symbols within your code (class, method, field, etc.)

PhpStorm code editor also includes built-in tools for debugging, testing, and profiling.

Another JetBrains product that is included in the PhpStorm is the WebStorm. This is an integrated development environment for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Therefore, you can also expect its code completion, debugger, validation, refactoring, and quick fixes to work for these programming languages. A few additional features provided are listed as follows:

  • Live edit
  • File watchers
  • JSLint/JSHint and TSLint
  • Node.js and Vue.js

Pros And Cons Of PhpStorm

ProsCons
Support most major PHP frameworks (Magento, Joomla!, CakePHP, and more)Complex set up, require ample time to read the online tutorials/guide
Include a live editCost isn’t suitable for professionals or businesses with a limited budget.
Include auto-complete function when writing codes
Its version 2021.2 offer 10+ new and improved features.
Supports PHP version 5.3 to 7.2

PhpStorm Pricing Plan

PhpStorm Pricing Plan

PhpStorm is available at $199 per user for the first year. The good news is, you will receive a discounted price as you extend your renewal.

If you have a larger team, you can contact the sales team to get a personalized pricing quote.

PhpStorm is also available in JetBrains all products package. It has a starting price of $649 per user for the first year.

Visit their website to learn more about this product.

2. Codeanywhere – Best Value For Money

Codeanywhere: Cloud-Based Integrated Development Environment

Cloud-Based Integrated Development Environment [$3.60 a month]

If you find manual downloading and installing a development environment a tedious task, Codeanywhere is the right choice for you.

This cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE) supports all major programming languages, including PHP. Sign up for an account, and you can start creating Containers.

Containers serve as your private virtual development environment.

They are fully customizable, and each includes a dedicated amount of disk space and memory. On top of that, they are equipped with pre-installed tools and databases.

Once you have successfully created a new container, enable it to get instant access to the IDE.

Codeanywhere Guide: Create New Container

When you get to the Codeanywhere IDE, you need to explore the sidebar (positioned on the left). This includes all the productivity widgets you can use when building your website or app.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • File Explorer (contains all standard actions and options available for you)
  • Search
  • Source Control (only applicable for anyone working with remote git repositories)
  • Debug
  • Extensions
  • Connections (centralized place to manage all containers and connections)

It also includes a drag-and-drop function to quickly add files and folders from your desktop to your dashboard. The best part of this, you can add, open, and save files with 200,000+ lines.

Codeanywhere IDE: Code Editor

Most part of the Codeanywhere IDE is dedicated to the code editor.

Just like with PhpStorm, its code editor provides intelligent editing features such as code autocomplete, formatting, refactor, and more.

But of course, it still manages to get an advantage by adding the following capabilities:

  • Linting (js and CSS)
  • Multiple cursors
  • Zen coding support
  • Code beautify
  • Support all browsers and devices

When it comes to debugging, it uses an integrated debugger to inspect call stacks, add breakpoints, and more. You can use its interactive console to view the output.

Did you see the Collaborate button on top of the code editor box?

Click that button to share your prebuilt PHP development environments with other users. You can also open a new collaboration terminal for your collaborators to access an unlimited number of shared terminals.

Pros And Cons Of Codeanywhere

ProsCons
Offer flexible pricing plans (monthly, annual, and biennial)Third-party connections are not supported in the new IDE
Launched a new and improved VS code-based editorCustomer service doesn’t provide phone support (slow to resolve issues and unresponsive at times)
Collaborative programming is enabled by defaultLimited trial version (7 days only)
Support a total of 120 programming languages

Codeanywhere Pricing Plan

Codeanywhere Pricing Plan

Codeanywhere IDE is offered in three subscription plans where each is designed to charge per user and monthly/annual/biennial billing period.

Here’s what you can expect from each plan (all prices are set for the biennial billing period):

  • Basic ($3.60/user/month): Create 1 container with live collaboration 2 GB RAM, 10 GB HDD, and connect to 5 remote servers.
  • Standard ($9/user/month): Create 3 containers with 4 GB memory for each, 15 GB of storage space, and connect to 50 remote servers.
  • Premium ($24/user/month): Create 6 containers with 2 always-on options, connect to unlimited remote servers, and more.

Get started with any subscription plan you desire for free. Simply sign up for its 7-day trial version.

3. Komodo IDE – Most Features

Komodo IDE: Development Environment Integrated With ActiveState Platform

Development Environment Integrated With ActiveState Platform [Free]

Komodo IDE is one of the development environments that supports all programming languages. Currently, there are hundreds of languages supported, and each is dedicated to strengthening the software’s capabilities.

To give you an idea, here are a few of the functions available with the total numbers of programming languages each supported:

  • Syntax highlighting: 122
  • Debugging: 8
  • Unit testing: 6
  • Syntax checking: 29

Since this IDE is primarily designed to support web languages, it makes a powerful platform for creating and deploying PHP development environments.

Komodo IDE Code Editor

It comes with a robust code editor packed with advanced features.

As standard, it includes code auto-complete, refactoring, symbol and code browser, DOM viewer, and more. For optimal convenience, it’s also built with elastic tabstops to auto-indent your codes as you type them.

You can also edit codes quicker by simply selecting multiple positions in the editor.

Debugging and unit testing are two crucial parts of web development. ActiveState includes powerful tools to ensure your codes are well-inspected.

Here are the top debugging and testing tools included:

  • Graphical debugger
  • Chrome debugging
  • Local and remote debugging
  • Multithreaded debugging
  • Multi-Process debugging
  • Breakpoint configuration
  • RX toolkit (for regular expressions)
  • Consolidated view
  • HTTP inspector
  • Changed variable highlighting
  • Built on DBGp protocol

ActiveState includes version control systems to support Subversion, Mercurial, Git, CVS, Perforce, and Bazaar to complete the IDE. They also provide tons of add-ons to add more new functionalities.

Do you want to define your own workflow?

You can do so because it includes workflow and file management that allows you to create custom workspaces. The interface is also divided into different panels for quick navigation.

Each panel is dedicated to the following functions:

  • Breadcrumbs navigation
  • Run shell commands through Commando
  • Organizes open files by language
  • Track all updates and processes in the notification panel
  • Create/open shortcuts
  • Sort and group open files
  • Share code to your Slack channel

In Komodo Version 12 – They Updated It With Additional Features.

In this specific version, it was announced the integration of the ActiveState Platform and DevDocs.io. They also improve the code intelligence performance to work with utmost simplicity and accuracy.

Komodo IDE Guide: Revamped Code Intelligence

The features added in Komodo 12 are listed as follows:

  • Print debugging
  • Live preview is included in the code editor
  • Automatic scanning and detection of third-party dependencies through Dependency Detector
  • Sidebar button for auto-formatting
  • SDK is now available

Pros And Cons Of Komodo IDE

ProsCons
Added tools provided for Drupal, Laravel, and WordPressThe current version is unstable on MacOS Big Sur.
Consistently updating its interface (fixes bugs and known issues) and online documentation.No technical support is provided by phone.
Provide excellent support via email, chat, and community forums

Komodo IDE Pricing Plan

Since Komodo IDE is now part of the ActiveState Platform, you can download it for free.

If you’re ready to launch it, you can purchase any of ActiveState’s two paid subscription plans. Visit its plans and pricing page for more information.

4. Apache NetBeans – More Than Just a Text Editor

Apache NetBeans: PHP Development Environment For Windows, Linux, & Mac OSX

PHP Development Environment With Versatile Code Refactoring [Free]

Apache NetBeans might be widely known as an integrated development environment for Java. But with its versatile UI design, it’s also proven handy for deploying PHP development environments.

Its code editor is equipped with sophisticated Code Assistance.

As the name implies, Code Assistance contains all the features and options that can help you code quickly and efficiently. A few of the features available are listed as follows:

  • Code formatting
  • Inserting and highlighting braces, brackets, and quotes
  • Code folding (options for collapsing and expanding code blocks)
  • Customize keyboard shortcuts
  • Smart code completion

If you don’t want to write code from scratch, you can use any PHP code templates available.

Apache NetBeans provides three methods to insert your desired code templates into your code:

  • Expand the template by using the template abbreviation followed by the Tab key
  • Use code completion to insert the expanded template
  • Use the margin hint or press Alt-Enter to surround your code with the template

Once successfully doing so, you can edit the codes to fit into your project.

Another excellent feature it boasts is its code refactoring. Apache NetBeans delivers it by adding an Inspect and Transform feature inside the code editor.

Apache NetBeans Guide: Inspect and Transform

With these features added, it will run various inspections and transformations for all the selected files at once.

The standard option is a single inspection. Tick its radio button, and it will show you the complete list of files you can inspect and transform.

You also have the option to create a custom inspection.

This option is recommended if you want to transform a specific code structure your way.


Apache NetBeans may not be as feature-rich as other PHP development environments. But one thing you can be sure of, creating PHP and other database-driven applications are made simpler through their platform.

Burkhard Berger

Pros And Cons Of Apache NetBeans

ProsCons
Most suitable for beginnersNo real-time customer support via live chat or phone
Support remote web server for application deploymentAvailable JDKs on version 12.5 are unstable on MacOS Big Sur (may freeze every so often)
Provide consistent release of newly-improved versions to fix bugs and enhance featuresProvide limited plugins for PHP (total of 8)

Apache NetBeans Pricing Plan

Apache NetBeans - Free To Download

Apache NetBeans 12.5 is the latest version available. Visit its download page to learn more about its features, or click its download button to get started.

5. AWS Cloud9 – Feature 2 Types of Development Environments 

AWS Cloud9: Cloud-Based Integrated Development Environment

Cloud-Based Integrated Development Environment [By Estimate]

In this comparison post of the best PHP development environments, I’ve only included two cloud-based platforms – Codeanywhere and AWS Cloud9.

AWS Cloud9 is an integrated development environment that fully supports PHP and other 40+ programming languages. It also runs seamlessly on all the recent versions of Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Getting started is made simpler.

Sign in to the AWS Management Console, and select AWS Cloud9. Its console will provide you with options on what type of development environment you want to launch.

Currently, there are two types of development environments available for AWS Cloud9:

  • EC2 environment: Connect to a new Amazon EC2 instance
  • SSH environment: Connect to an existing Linux server or Lightsail instance

Each development environment contains a unique IDE setting, tools, runtimes, and files.

You can write, run, and debug your codes using its advanced code editor no matter what environment you choose.

AWS Cloud9 Guide: Advanced Code Editor

The web-based code editor’s functionalities are similar to the previous PHP development environments I’ve discussed above. Here are its differences:

  • Fully customizable (30 color schemes to choose from and edit stylesheets)
  • Include line manipulation
  • Step-through debugging
  • Built-in image editor
  • Team members simultaneously code together and chat within the IDE
AWS Cloud9 Guide: Collaborative Editing and Chat

If you’re developing serverless applications as well, you’re in luck. AWS Cloud9 provides tons of integrated tools, SDKs, plugins, and libraries for serverless development.

Pros And Cons Of AWS Cloud9

ProsCons
Over 40 programming languages are supportedNot available for all regions (only support Sydney, Mumbai, Stockholm, Seoul, London, and Central regions of Canada)
Include integrated tools for serverless development
Provide customizable user interface (change color schemes and edit stylesheet)
No installation or maintaining local IDE needed

AWS Cloud9 Pricing Plan

AWS Cloud9 Pricing Calculator

AWS Cloud9 prices are designed to charge per computing and storage resources consumed to run and store your code. Ease your mind that you will only pay for what you use.

The best part of this is that there are no minimum fees set.

You can use the AWS Pricing Calculator to create an accurate estimate for your needs.

6. phpDesigner – Provide Portable Edition

phpDesigner: PHP Development Environment With 4 Built-In Editors

PHP Development Environment With 4 Built-In Editors [$42, One-time fee]

Here’s another PHP development environment built for web development – phpDesigner.

Its interface is a combination of PHP IDE and four code editors designed for:

  • PHP
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • JavaScript

Together, they provide you with all the tools you need to create amazing websites.

Let’s focus more on its PHP Editor.

To speed up the coding process, MPSoftware equipped it with code insight that supports namespace and OOP. If you want to find a specific class, function, and variable in your project or framework, you can use its code explorer.

You can also debug and profile any PHP scripts through Xdebug.

phpDesigner 8.1.2 is its latest version, and this improved the user interface to make it more intuitive and easy to use. You can also deploy any of your websites on every device while still maintaining utmost responsiveness.

Building your website anywhere you go is also the main goal of phpDesigner, and they deliver this by providing a portable edition.

Pros And Cons Of phpDesigner

ProsCons
Supports PHP version 4.X and aboveOnly support Windows OS
Include intelligent syntax highlighters for 12 programming languagesNo 24/7 human support via chat or phone is provided
The user interface is displayed in the English language by default, but you can change it (20+ languages to choose from).

phpDesigner Pricing Plan

phpDesigner Pricing Plan

phpDesigner is offered at a per-license pricing rate. Unlike the other IDE, all prices are charged one time, and you can use it as long as you need it.

Here are the prices for each offer:

  • Single Personal License (2-in-1 license): $42
  • Single Commercial License (3-in-1 license): $99
  • Commercial Site license for 3 users (3-in-1 license): $177.48
  • Commercial Site license for 5 users (3-in-1 license): $254.09
  • Commercial Site license for 10 users (3-in-1 license): $445.61
  • Single Portable USB Commercial License (3-in-1 license): $95.76
  • Single Portable USB Personal License (2-in-1 license): $49.80

Please note that the prices may still change depending on your preferred currency.

All offers include a 1-year upgrade assurance for free. You can also explore them free of charge for 21 days by downloading their trial version.

7. CodeLite – Feature wxWidgets & MinGW Toolkit

CodeLite: Lightweight Cross-Platform PHP Development Environment

Lightweight Cross-Platform PHP Development Environment [Free]

CodeLite IDE first rose to fame as the best C++ IDE to use. But thanks to its lightweight-designed PHP development environment, many developers and programmers make it their go-to software.

By default, it supports all major compilers and runs on all platforms (MacOSX, Windows, and Linux).

Getting started is easy. Upon starting the software, the setup wizard will welcome you and guide you on how to set up the following:

  • Development profile (choose default if you want to enable everything in the settings)
  • Compilers (manual and automatic)
  • Change colors and themes (light or dark)
  • Customize keyboard shortcuts
  • Basic editing configuration (indentation, whitespace, etc.)
  • Define environment variables

Once you set up everything, the setup wizard will close down. But you can always enable it by navigating help > run the setup wizard.

Congratulations, you can now create a new workspace and project.

CodeLite Guide: Create New Project

Unlike with other PHP development environments, CodeLite provides various plugins to make a fully workable PHP environment. The plugins it currently supports are listed as follows:

  • Code Completion
  • Class wizard
  • Debugging capabilities via XDebug
  • Remote synchronizing over SFTP
  • Re-factoring
  • Simplified project management
  • Syntax checking

Since CodeLite supports C, C++, JavaScript, and all platforms, it’s equipped with wxWidgets and MinGW to ensure you can connect all your tools needed to build your applications.

wxWidgets is a C++ library, while MinGW contains all components to build Microsoft Windows applications.

Pros And Cons Of CodeLite

ProsCons
Supports all major compilersNo built-in syntax checking is provided (require integration)
Provide light and dark themesCustomer service should also offer phone, chat, or email support (only provide assistance through its forum)
Tons of plugins available to add new functions to your project

CodeLite Pricing Plan

CodeLite: Free To download

CodeLite is 100% free to download and use. Go to their download page and find the latest version available.

Make sure to select the one that is compatible with your device.

8. Aptana Studio – Most Straightforward IDE

Aptana Studio: Integrated Development Environments For Building Web Applications

Integrated Development Environments For Building Web Applications [Free]

Aptana, Inc. has been around the business since 2005, and it’s renowned for providing excellent development tools for web applications.

Aptana Studio is the product they created to help you build the most flexible web application IDE. They also applied the same flexibility as with the Eclipse IDE to ensure ease of use and efficacy.

To complete the product, they equipped it with powerful features, which includes:

  • Code Assist: This allows you to quickly locate a specific keyword/variable or select the required function.
  • Deployment Wizard: Seamless connection to your hosting services (Heroku, Engine Yard, etc.) or communication protocols (FTP, SFTP, FTPS, and Capistrano).
  • Integrated Debugger: The feature that will examine your variables line-by-line to know if it’s working.
  • Git Integration: This is a version control system that allows you to work with remote repositories.
  • Built-in Terminal: This allows you to accomplish tasks or execute commands on any operating system.
  • IDE Customization: Customize your development environment the way you want it to look and feel.

Aptana Studio is the most straightforward IDE on my list. Once it loads open, you can immediately start the creation process of your web application.

Pros And Cons Of Aptana Studio

ProsCons
Easy to set up and useNo real-time customer support via phone or chat is provided (only offer online documentation and forum)
Include a built-in command line terminal
Built with a lightweight framework

Aptana Studio Pricing Plan

Aptana Studio 3 is the latest version available, and it’s 100% free to download and use.

Conclusion

What PHP development environment is a good value for your money?

All the software I’ve discussed is worth using this 2022. But if I have to pick one, I’ll go with AWS Cloud9.

It’s one of the best-rated IDEs for ease of use, setup, and deployment. Not to mention, it provides impeccable quality support for all its users.

Since its code editor is browser-based, you can access it anywhere and on any device.

No matter what your budget looks like, AWS Cloud9 can fit into it as well. Its pricing rates are purely based on your consumed resources.

If this sounds interesting to you, visit their website and create your AWS account.

In This Article

Burkhard Berger

Burkhard Berger

Follow me on my journey from $0 to $100,000 per month. I'm sharing everything I've learned in my income reports here on Novum™ so you can pick up on my mistakes and wins.

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