This week we'll be reviewing Zend's IDE + Debugger combination, which as the name suggests provide a complete development environment for PHP. While the IDE and Debugger are separate products, they really depend on each other so much, that we'll treat them as one complete product in this review.
A couple of weeks ago, Zend finally released their long awaited product line, including much needed products, such as a stable, quality Cache as well as an encoder that allows you to encrypt and distribute your code. But are these products all that they're hyped to be? Are they worth their price tags? Over the next couple of weeks I will be offering you my reviews of the different Zend products, the Zend Launchpad, the Zend IDE + Debugger, the Zend Cache and the Zend encoder.
This week I'll be reviewing Zend's IDE + Debugger combination, which as the name suggests provide a complete development environment for PHP. While the IDE and Debugger are separate products, they really depend on each other so much, that'll treat them as one complete product in this review.
Zend IDE The installation of Zend's IDE is a bit tricky, mainly because the Zend IDE is a Java based product and therefore requires the JRE to be installed in order to work. On Windows systems this is no problem. Just download Sun's JRE and follow the installation instructions, and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes (I had trouble with the IBM JRE, which is supposedly the best runtime environment to use). On Linux, installation is a bit trickier, especially if you use (like myself) a foreign keyboard. Sun's Java Runtime Environment and the Zend IDE would not work with my keyboard. Therefore, I was forced to use the IBM JRE, which took me quite a while, and a whole bunch of hacks in order to get working.
As a side note, some people complained about the Zend IDE being written in Java, because Java is sooooo slow. While its true that this does make the Zend IDE harder to install, and it does run slower (just in the initialization phase however, it worked fine when it was up and running). I happen to agree with Zend in their decision to use Java, for two reasons. Firstly, Java is cross platform, that means everywhere the JRE is supported, the Zend IDE is supported. This is critical for large businesses who may want to have standard development tools, with developer's who use many different operating systems. Secondly, betting on Java is not a bad idea, while it still is very memory intensive its getting better by the day, and it allows for easy extensibility should they ever open up the editor to plugins, etc.
Zend Debugger Installing the Zend debugger was pretty standard. As the Zend debugger is like installing any other PHP extension. The documentation was ample (and I've installed more PHP extensions than I care to recall), so it worked as easy as 1..2..3 for me. One thing you might want to be aware of is that you have to make sure to edit your php.ini files according the instructions, I skipped over this and it threw me for a loop.