The Best PHP IDE of the Decade (PhpStorm)

  • Ross Edlin
  • 4th Mar 2019

I hate to admit this, but for nearly 6 years of my life I refused to use an Integrated Developer Environment (IDE).

I’m smarter than other people because I write in notepad

I don’t need an IDE, I understand the code better

Just a few of the statements I would repeat in my head, convincing myself that using notepad was the best way. Then that fateful day arrived, the day I got shown how good an IDE was.

That’s why today I will share with you the best PHP IDE on the market.

As a Senior PHP Developer with 9+ years of experience, I’ve had the opportunity to really get my teeth into an IDE, give it a full test ride and share with you my opinion on what’s the best PHP IDE.

Honestly, it’s painful looking back at those years I didn’t use one, or used a bad one.

The amount of time I wasted trying to achieve the simplest of tasks which these days I do with a couple of clicks.

What will you find in this article?

In this article I’m going to show you some of my personal favourite points as to why I personally love PhpStorm from JetBrains.
As well as giving you references to other articles saying similar!

What is an IDE??

An IDE in an Integrated Development Environment.

Right…. What the h*** is that??

That’s what I thought when I first heard about them.
But I quickly learned that an IDE is an advanced version of notepad.
An IDE is a text editor with a lot of extra features added on.

Features like, Git, FTP, file history, advanced searching and many many more.

An IDE should have all you need.
Unfortunately, some IDE’s are not as good as others and it can be a pain to learn an IDE only to find that a much better one existed, and you wasted your time.

That’s why I promote PhpStorm from JetBrains as the best PHP IDE.

Best PHP IDE (PhpStorm)

What is so good about PhpStorm?

Well for starters, it’s not free, PhpStorm is $89 per year for individuals.

Wait… Why is that a good thing??

Have you ever known a free product to be the BEST at something??
I find, if you want quality, you have to pay for it.

JetBrains put in a lot of effort to fix bugs, make improvements to PhpStorm and give you the best PHP IDE on the market.
But to do that, you need to hire the best people, the best developers and that costs money.

Consistency with other languages

PhpStorm is built by JetBrains, they don’t just build tools for PHP, they build tools for nearly every coding language you can think of.

Each IDE has only slight differences in the style of the IDE with only language specific changes where appropriate.

The thing I love the most about their products is nearly all the hotkeys are the same no matter what product you use from JetBrains.

The colour scheme is the same, the feel of the product is the same, it feels much more natural when flipping between languages and you know that most of the menu’s and settings are the same.

The consistency between each IDE is what makes PhpStorm the BEST PHP IDE out on the market, not just because of PHP but because you can change language and not have to re-learn another IDE.

Version Control / Git

Git is a version control package, it assigns versions to the code you write and every time you change that code, it’ll highlight it for you so you can visually see the change.

Git is the industry standard, almost all companies use Git into their tech stack, which is why PhpStorm is the best PHP IDE.

Because it integrates Git beautifully.

JetBrains PhpStorm Git Comparison

It’s easy on the eyes and you can clearly see the green block of new code added on the right side.

It keeps the colour highlighting which you are familiar with when coding and it clearly defines where the code was added with a simple highlight of the line insertion.

Let’s compare this to another GIT application: TortoiseGit

Tortoise Git Comparison

As you can see, this is not the best-looking interface, all the colour highlights are missing, it’s much more difficult to read and on the left side it’s missing a huge chunk of the code.


Quick note: These figures were taken at the time of writing and might be different when you’re reading.

Google Android IDE

Google uses JetBrains IntelliJ IDE for building apps for Android, that’s the Java version of PhpStorm, built by the same company.

So if Google likes it, it must be good.

Another PHP developer opinion

Speaking as a developer who has used PHPStorm professionally for 2 years and paid for a personal license and convinced the company i worked at to purchase licenses for all our developers, YES.

PHPStorm provides an extreme amount of time saving shortcuts, refactoring tools and advanced syntax-hinting that is in my opinion just better than what you get from free IDE's.

Trust Radius (9.2 out of 10)

Trust Radius provides reviews from actual users, at the time of writing this, Trust Radius had 22 review with an average of 9.2.

That’s pretty good!!

Slant (321 positive vs. 43 negative)

With over 300 positive reviews at the time of writing with less than 50 negative, most people like PhpStorm.

In conclusion

When choosing your IDE, don’t think about the short term, think about the long-term benefits.

PhpStorm is not a small IDE, it’s a big feature packed IDE.

But the rewards of investing the time and money into PhpStorm will be 10x what you give.

Being able to learn one IDE and code in ten without having to re-learn another IDE is a huge game changer and when it looks and feels great, you have nothing to lose.

So go out there and download PhpStorm, the BEST PHP IDE on the market to date.

As always… Keep learning and levelling UP!