NetBeans IDE 6.5 Beta for PHP Developers

| Created: August 18th, 2008
PHP Development 31 Comments

In one of my older posts, on PHP Performance Profiling with APD, there’s a discussion in the comments about which IDE is best to use with PHP. Terence Chang recommends Zend Studio and mentions Eclipse. Dreamweaver’s also discussed and I state that I just use a text editor (with syntax highlighting).

Against that backdrop, I read with interest that the NetBeans IDE 6.5 Beta has just been released and that it now caters to PHP developers (article by Lloyd Dunn).

NetBeans IDE 6.5 for PHP

Lloyd’s article discusses the features present in NetBeans IDE 6.5 Beta for PHP developers. To quote Lloyd:

As web developers increasingly tackle large-scale projects that use PHP together with MySQL, they stand to benefit from an IDE that can efficiently manage their growing code base. Fortunately, the newly released NetBeans IDE 6.5 Beta arrives tailor-made to help PHP developers with their particular coding requirements.

He goes on to list the features that are included:

code completion, syntax highlighting, marking of occurrences, refactoring, code templates, pop-up documentation, easy code navigation, editor warnings, a task list, as well as a debugger.

Lloyd looks in detail at the Debugger and the integration with MySQL as well as mentioning that the PHP only distribution is only 20MB (amazing!).

It sounds great to me! I haven’t had time to try it yet and I don’t really need a full blown IDE for the PHP coding I’m doing at present, but I’ve downloaded it and will give it a spin sometime soon.

If you’re interested, I’d urge you to read Lloyd’s article in full.

A Quick Look At The PHP IDE Competition

Although Dreamweaver is great for most web development, it’s really not up to scratch when it comes to PHP development and it costs money.

Zend Studio has an excellent reputation, but it’s expensive. That might be an option if you are a full time PHP developer, but if won’t be appealing to the part timers out there, such as myself.

As I’ve said, I use a text editor (with syntax highlighting) for most of my coding, but I’m only working on short simple projects at present. For more complex projects, a comprehensive IDE would be necessary.

So that leaves Eclipse PHP (PDT) and now NetBeans IDE as the free options. Which is best? I haven’t tried them yet, but NetBeans is a lot smaller to download (if you choose PHP only), has the debugger built in (you have install a separate debugger for Eclipse). It seems to have a lot going for it.

I’d recommend trying them both, but there’s no doubt that NetBeans is one to seriously consider.

Final Thoughts

What do you use for your PHP coding? Do you have experience with NetBeans, or any of the other IDEs mentioned? If so, let me know in the comments!

31 responses on “NetBeans IDE 6.5 Beta for PHP Developers

  1. Terence Chang@ The Internet Entrepreneur Diary


    Thank you for mentioning my name. I was thinking to go back to Eclipse again for my new PHP5.2 projects. My old Studio 5.5 seem to have problem to load class into the IDE with CodeIgniter PHP framework.

    I would love to give NetBean a try. I had horrible experience few years back with NetBean, but it looks much better now.

    At the mean time, Just wondering what AJAX javascript tool kid are you using? I have tried Yahoo UI, but it’s huge. How about Jquery and other?

    PS. It’s funny that I found your post from Google Alert with my name as criteria.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Terence,

      That’s two posts in a row where I’ve mentioned you! 🙂

      For AJAX development, once again, it’s pretty simple stuff I’m working on, so I just do it manually in JavaScript. I am planning to get into JQuery though. I was going to try out Prototype, but I’d heard so many good things about JQuery, and now WordPress has made the jump, so I think I’ll go with JQuery for that reason.

  2. Terence Chang@ The Internet Entrepreneur Diary


    Just want to let you know that I have tried NetBean6.5 beta and Eclipse PDT both.

    To make it short, I just uninstalled NetBean6.5. It’s too slow!

    I download the all in one package of Eclipse PDT. I fire up the IDE and setup a new project and color coding. It’s ready to go.

    In many cases, it’s faster than Zend Studio 5.5. The only few things that it can’t beat Zend is the code completion. Zend Studio 5.5 don’t support CSS color coding and validation. That sucks!

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Terence,

      Sorry to hear it’s too slow. I’ll give it a go anyway! But I might try Eclipse as well. It’s been years since I last tried that (when I was messing with Java briefly).

  3. K-IntheHouse@Get in blocked sites

    Stephen, I use plain old Notepad++ for most of my WordPress PHP needs. But, I see how a full fledged IDE such as NetBeans or Eclipse can be helpful in debugging much larger projects. Also, Oracle’s JDeveloper (free after registration) has a PHP extension if you’d like to give that a try. But, like NetBeans it is a heavy IDE and requires a sturdy computer to run on. 🙂

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi K!

      Thanks for letting me know about Oracle’s JDeveloper – hadn’t heard about that one!

      I think I’m going to try out NetBeans and Eclipse, just to see what they’re like, but I don’t really need them. At the moment, I’m just writing WordPress plugins. They’re not too complex, so I just use SciTE (a text editor with syntax highlighting).

      I’ve tried out Notepad++ and it’s pretty good, but the thing I like about SciTE is how lightweight it is. It doesn’t have most of the features of Notepad++, but it’s comfortable for me.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi tribui,

      I downloaded Aptana once but never tried it. I’ll have to try it again sometime. The problem is there are so many options and so little time!

  4. pcdinh

    However, Aptana is deadly slow when working with big CSS or Javascript files. It always make Eclipse frozen for a few minutes.

    Netbean PHP is much lighter than Eclipse and JDeveloper

    @Terence Chang
    Why do you need a full-packaged NetBean6.5 beta when you only need Netbeans PHP? If you upgrade you JVM (at least to 6.0) then Netbeans 6.5 will be as fast as you expect.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi pcdinh,

      Thanks for the input. I somehow had the impression that NetBeans PHP was lighter than Eclipse, but I had no basis for that (apart from some screenshots), so I’m happy to hear you say that!

  5. Roger Padilla

    We was using Eclipse PDT, but now we are looking through NetBeans 6.5 for PHP, it look so great, the starting time is faster than eclipse, the refactor, the highlighting, the tooltips documentation and the debugger look very much useful than with Eclipse.

    Although we want waiting some time before move us to NetBeans 6.5, the current version is a beta and then it’s not ready for production usage.

  6. Petr Pisl


    there is a blog about NetBean PHP ( You can read about features, which are going to be in the first version of the PHP support in NetBeans 6.5. Now there is published beta, but the development builds has some more fixes mainly in the performance area.

    There also two posts about WordPress and NetBeans. One about how to set up the project and second one, how to develop plugin for WordPress in NetBeans. Probably it can be interesting for you as well.

  7. TR@Alcoholism Help

    I have never really been all that impressed with dreamweaver. I have been looking for a good php editor, most of the time I am writing it from scratch in Notepad – I will have to check the two you have here out.

  8. zam3858

    i’ve been on aptana for quite awhile and just started trying out the netbeans 6.5. Netbean feels good. My favourite feature on this netbean is how it highlights the changes i made since my last subversion update. there’s a nice vertical bar telling me ‘oh u added lines here’ or ‘hey, u deleted something there’. the file active file tab tells me which file i edited since then too.

    if u select a variable, it highlights the variables at other places within the file. helps keeping track of what happens to the variable. helps a lot when i’m not sure if i got my variable spellings right.

    i have to agree it at least feels lighter.

    the only bad thing so far is the code-suggestion/auto-completion sometimes really get in the way. but that’s only minor and i’m sure they’ll so something about that.

    thats my 2 cents.

  9. SeanJA

    I tend to use Komodo Edit at home (and on personal projects), but I use Eclipse at work. One thing that surprised me was that the smarty plugin for Eclipse is completely useless, whereas, on Komodo Edit, it just works (we use smarty at work…).

  10. GrokCode

    I use NetBeans for some Java work, but it is so slow that it could never be my main editor for any language. Emacs is a great all-purpose code editor that works well with any language and doesn’t suck every last drop of ram and cpu like netbeans does.

  11. Olivier @ brainwave meditation

    I also use eclipse. Rather robust I must say. I also really like jedit, although not a true IDE, it has all the features I need : code highlighting and bracket matching. That is all there is to programming in my opinion 🙂

  12. Claris

    I downloaded Aptana once but never tried it. I’ll have to try it again sometime. The problem is there are so many options and so little time!

  13. anzaan

    Netbeans PHP IDE is the best thing to happen to PHP since sliced-bread !

    Shame on Zend.
    They own PHP and they have done a terrible job of promoting PHP as a serious programming language by keeping Zend Studio out of reach from programmers.

    OF course u can buy it. But I don’t care to put my money on something that does half the job for me, and for the other half I have to run to good old Dreamweaver.
    Visual Editing???

    I can understand third parties developing commercial tools and IDEs for PHP , but Zend making their IDE available only commercially is a bad case of greed, and it hasn’t helped PHP shake off its tag as a language for amateurs and hobbyists.
    Shame on Zend.
    And shame on you for making the interpreter slow deleberately so u can make some money by selling Accelerator to speed it up.
    And , oh, Zend Framework is a terrible piece of work too.

    I have tries eclipse’s PHP IDE but its hardly much compared to Netbeans PHP IDE.

    Kudos to Netbeans team for the great job

  14. tony@Cheap web hosting.

    I was going to try netbean but after terrence said he uninstalled it and uses eclispe i think i will try that one first.

  15. Theo@Website laten maken

    I would like to add Crimson Editor as ‘best free editor’ to the list. It is ultra-lightweight and extremely stable.

  16. Rob

    I’ve been using Dreamweaver for years but am impressed by the standard of the freeware alternatives available. Most of the time I do my php coding in textpad but after reading your article I thought I’d give Netbeans a try. I like the versatility of the software and the fact that you can use it for development on many different platforms.
    Thanks, Stephen I think I might bin Dreamweaver now and go with the beans!

  17. ReadWriteCode

    I use RapidPHP. Not free, but inexpensive. Lots of features – code completion, syntax highlighting, snippets, html, css, ftp. Used it for years. It’s fast and efficient. Also use Dreamweaver and UltraEdit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam Quiz: