Aptana PHP 1.0 Released – Free PHP IDE

Aptana (yes, this is a shameless plug) released version 1.0 of its PHP support yesterday, and it is something that you should definitely check out. Prior to working at Aptana, I was an avid user of Zend Studio, and Coda, simply because those were the best PHP IDEs as far as I was concerned. Over the past few months, however, we’ve been hard at work on the PHP support for Aptana Studio, and I can say with much confidence that it is in every way as good as every other PHP IDE out there, and better than some in other respects. I would also say this regardless of the fact that I work for the company… it really is that good! Read on to find out about all the new goodness…

So, what’s new? Well, one of the biggest things is content assist. A lot of effort was put into content assist to make sure its as useful as possible. Not only do you get all the things you might expect, such as native PHP functions, local and member variables, local and member functions, but returned objects actually resolve properly and get content assist as well! Imagine you’ve got some factory class, or just a function that returns an object… maybe something like:

$user = UserFactory::GetUser(123)

All of the functions and variables from your user class will be properly provided whenever you do anything with $user. Of course, all this content assist is augmented with any proper phpdocumentor documentation you’ve got in your code for functions / vars / objects as well.

There’s also some nice auto-fill of function signatures with all the required parameters pre-filled for you, and easy navigation between them using the tab key. You also get code templates, which you can build and define yourself in addition to the many templates that come with the plugin by default. These templates are provided as part of the content assist, so if you have a function template, simply start typing “function” in the editor, and the template will be provided as one of the content-assist options. There’s also some nice getter/setter generation, which is a godsend if you’ve ever had to deal with the ponderous task of creating all those for your class member variables. Another great code generation function is override and implement, which will automatically carry over all functions and variables (of your choosing) from parent classes or implemented interfaces. Both of these code generation functions also provide proper documentation blocks, and will even insert the //TODOs for you as well (which you’ll get a nice list of for your whole project in the Aptana Tasks view).

Finally, there’s a local PHP preview server and debugger. The preview server is nice, but the debugger is the real win here. Being able to properly step through your code, modify variables, and all of the other great things you’d expect from debugging with Aptana Studio or Eclipse is just plain kick-ass.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the plugin, and I’m sure I’ll cover it as time passes, but for now, I’ve also put together three screen casts that you can check out at your leisure:

For more information on Aptana’s PHP support, visit: www.aptana.com/php. You can also grab the plug in for free at that location.

Aaaaand, for more information on Aptana Studio in general: www.aptana.com/studio, and of course, Aptana Cloud: www.aptana.com/cloud

Other's Thoughts   (7 so far...)

  • ST
    Dec 15 '08 at 9:31 pm

    The best IDE I’ve ever used for PHP is NetBeans 6.5. What reasons could you off for why I should consider switching to Aptana?

  • Ilan
    Dec 16 '08 at 6:53 am

    what about remote debugging?

  • John Rockefeller
    Dec 16 '08 at 7:55 am

    Great work! I love Aptana.. My favorite IDE by far!

  • Ian
    Dec 16 '08 at 2:59 pm


    Remote debugging is coming soon, we’re trying to make it easy to deal with. In the meantime, you can get away with it, check out this forum post:

  • Ian
    Dec 16 '08 at 3:08 pm


    One of the biggest differentiators is the cloud integration into the IDE. Outside of that, they are pretty darn close… I do know that the NetBeans team considers us their direct competition, so we do lead them a little bit in that respect :) Another thing I’d also say is that the Eclipse ecosystem is a little better in my opinion as well.

    Another big difference is our community involvement. We pay attention to what the developers want from us, and we usually work to integrate those features. We are also a lot more agile in many respects as far as our ability to get new features and releases out.

  • Adam Culp
    Dec 23 '08 at 7:46 am

    Very nice job Ian. You make me so proud. (wipes tear from eye)
    The videos were awesome.

    Get a shave!

  • Stas
    Dec 29 '08 at 2:17 am

    One more good free PHP IDE:

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