Netbeans IDE for PHP Development

Installed Netbeans, an open source IDE (integrated development environment). An IDE is a program (application) designed to help programmers develop their applications. (« Kinda reflexive, no?) Heard about it when I asked the PHP programmers at MODx CMS what IDE they were using. Their answers surprised me.

Netbeans logoAlways thought Netbeans was solely for Java development. (You know .. beans = coffee = java.) Not so, apparently.

Been using Aptana Studio last few months. I like Aptana, but now I like Netbeans better.

I'm not savvy enough to use these powerhouse IDE's to anywhere near their full potential. For what I'm doing (learning), I could easily get by with Dreamweaver (which I use for web design), or even Notepad++.

But I'd like to become familiar with a few of the main players, which include » Zend Studio, Eclipse+PDT, Eclipse+Zend, PHPEclipse, Komodo, phpDesigner, phpEdit & phpED. At least, get a flavor for them. And I gotta write my code somewhere, right?

Before you can install the Netbeans IDE, first gotta install the Java Development Kit (JDK). Fortunately, you can download both programs in a » single installer (140 MB).

If a good installer is any indication of program-quality (.. like a good salad at a restaurant is often an indicator of a good main meal to follow), then Netbeans should be solid, cuz the installer is pretty slick.

Heck, they even have their own downloader (.. which rocks).

After the install, Netbeans will prompt to update a few files. (Nice.) After the update, first need to » install the PHP plug-in. (The instructions omit this step.)

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On the Start Page, click the Welcome to Netbeans tab. There you'll see the Install Plugins link, listed under heading » Extend your IDE. I also opt'ed to install the plug-in for PHP Manual Search. (Prolly be using that a bit.) Installing plugins could not be easier. Reminds me of how Linux installs its add-ons. (Put check in box and click button labeled 'Install'.)

Netbeans 6.8Several IDEs, including Zend Studio & Aptana, are based on Eclipse. So they have a similar look-n-feel. Netbeans is different. From my admittedly meager experience, it feels a little slicker, crisper, more polished, responsive, clean. Almost reminds me of Linux in that regards. Netbeans' tag-line is » Get Tomorrow Today.

My Netbeans folder = 225 MB. JDK = 200MB. Komodo 140. Aptana 420. Zend 900. Like with any web dev tools, you'll also need a web-server stack, such as » WAMP. But I already had that.

Just from the little I've played with it, I already like it better than Aptana. (And I like Aptana better than Komodo.) Better code-hinting, more intuitive. Seems to anticipate my intentions, which is cool, cuz sometimes, hey, I'm not sure myself. Multiple-choice questions are always easier than fill-in-the-blank. =)

All these IDE's begin by setting up a 'work bench' (.. a choice of terminology I find interesting.) You start by launching New Project, and telling Netbeans you want this project to be a PHP project. You then pick a /home directory where you want your project files to go .. and you're off. To the races.

The power of digital technology seems to lie in mastering these digital tools. Programming is a big world. Relatively new technology, in the grand scheme of things. We come a long way from making spears & the wheel.

Developers seem excited over fact that Netbeans v6.8 (Dec. 2009) added support for the Symphony framework and extended support for PHP 5.3, while the upcoming v6.9 will reportedly add sppt for the Zend framework (in June).

Here's what I'm seeing about programming. There's the basic RULES of the language to learn (like the rules of chess), and then there's WHAT YOU CAN DO with those rules (.. by manipulating them). The first part is relatively easy, simple. Second part is where we separate the men from the boys. The pro's from the hacks.

Two people can 'know PHP,' but one may be 10-times better than another. 100-times, even. Studying the examples is where the magic is gleaned. A good book will have good examples. Right now, my examples are still very basic (fill-in-the-blank) » Mary had a little ____ .

So 'learning the language' is actually the starting point. And these IDE's make it easier for you to do more, or least, do it faster. Wouldn't surprise me if you had two programmers sitting side-by-side, working on the same project, and one was worth 3-times as much as the other. Or more. Boris Spasky and I both 'know how to play chess.'

Last year Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, who was previously supporting the development of Netbeans. Oracle is powerful company. Not sure however, how that bodes for the future support of Netbeans, since Oracle already supports the dev of two IDEs (.. JDeveloper and Eclipse).

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » netbeans ide php web development

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on April 21, 2010 4:21 AM.

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