10 of the Best PHP Development Tools

The scripting language is inextricable when it comes to web development. Some say it’s quite an easy language to learn and there is a big community of developers behind it that provide as much support as they can.

As opposed to other languages, PHP does not have the luxury of a development environment. There are plenty of packages and tools that support PHP development, but in practice, they tend to be quite unsystematic and scattered. The scattering of these packages can be particularly problematic for developers who strive to augment their virtual tool arsenal.


To help them out we have hand-picked 10 PHP development tools that support developers with putting their PHP development into practice.


PHP Development Environments


Among the many development environments, we have selected 3 of our favourites that carry hybrid features where the IDE and text editors are combined into one tool.



There’s no doubt that seasoned developers are acquainted with Apache solutions so XAMMP might ring a bell as well as it is created by Apache Fiends.

XAMMP is an excellent tool for organisations that are in need of a MySQL database solution. Smaller organisations such as start-ups might want to consider an alternative tool as XAMMP offers a  plethora of features that usually only large-scale organisation require.

Nevertheless, depending on the needs of your organisation rather than its size, XAMPP could be a significant development platform.


Main features of XAMPP:

●     Powered by 10 years of experience from developers that actively developed the platform. It’s robust and reliable.

●     Perl and MySQL are inherent during the installation

●     Flexible in the sense that CMS components can be installed right on top of XAMPP

●     Ships with a relatively straightforward control panel


2. Eclipse PDT


It’s difficult to categorise Eclipse as an IDE as it burst at its seams because of all the features that are added to this open source environment throughout the years. Originally, Eclipse was developed to assist developers who in Java but has since been expanded and allows other languages, such as PHP, as well.

If you decide to opt for this development environment, bear in mind that it requires quite some computing resources.


Main features of Eclipse PDT

●     Loads of code templates

●     Present content assistance

●     PHP code profiling

●     Syntax highlighting

●     Extensive debugging features.


3. Script Case


ScriptCase is one of the environments where developers can develop web applications quickly. By quickly we mean that the environment enables developers to get their software from the prototype stage to production in only a matter of seconds which gives it an edge on other environments. This significant advantage does come at a price point though and tends to be more appealing to mid-size and large-sized organisation.


Main features of Script Case:

●     Ability to export formats such as XLS and PDF

●     Visualise your work by generating charts (including pivot tables)

●     Connects to the majority of database engines

●     Can generate interactive reports

PHP Code Profiling, Application Performance Management, Performance, Logging Tools, and Debugging


There are quite some tools available that have proven to be of great for developers who are tasked with finding wrong code and inefficiencies. It depends on which development stage you are. APMs monitor your application after it has been deployed whereas code profiles should be used during the actual development of the app. However, some of these tools combine these two into one seamless piece of software.


4. Xdebug


Xdebug has been around now for almost 17 years and prides itself for being the “real” standard of PHP debuggers. The vast majority of IDEs fully support the Xdebug extension and can be incredibly useful for developers regardless of their seniority.

Main features of Xdebug:

●     Can be integrated with nearly every IDE

●     A reliable and robust reputation since 2002

●     Stack trace functionality

●     Is compatible with other front-end debugging solutions

●     Has a one-step debugging functionality


5. New Relic APM


If you need a platform that shows you all in the ins and outs of the performance of your (mobile) applications, New Relic is an excellent choice. It’s an APM that has grown into a multifaceted application performance monitor that supports the majority of popular languages such as Java, PHP, Ruby, and .NET.

Main features of New Relic APM

●     Code-level diagnostics

●     Offers option for cross-application tracing

●     Enables users to monitor browsers, mobile, and infrastructure performance

●     Clear overview of application performance

●     Ships with low-impact production thread profiler

6. Zephir


Zephir is considered a code-enhancement tool but it’s a programming language as well. What’s worth mentioning is that Zephir is geared more towards developers that are a bit more intermediate.

The platform enables coders to create functions that are run by the PHP engine. As PHP is an interpreted language, using Zephir for creating components is often faster than native PHP functions due to its compiled nature.


Main features of Zephir:

●     Quicker runtimes are attained by compiling components as shared libraries.

●     Zephir understands that Pointers open doors to a plethora of issues. That is why the platform does not support Pointers.

●     Functions can be created in a language similar to C.

7. AppOptics by SolarWinds


This platform went through many changes since its launch. After first acquiring TraceView, one of the most bespoken APM, they worked tirelessly to integrate its features in the AppOptics infrastructure monitoring tool.

The result is a robust platform that supports both application and infrastructure performance monitoring. It is an excellent tool for an organisation to visualise performance from the bottom upwards.

Main features of AppOptics:

●     Over 150+ plugins and integrations along with other cutting-edge tools are compatible with the platform.

●     Enables users to create customer analytics and metrics.

●     Comprehensive infrastructure and server monitoring.

Version Control


As a team with developers grows over time, the more critical version control becomes. It’s of vital importance that the main branch stays protected while developers work on flashy features and updates.

Picking the right version control tool is therefore essential especially as it becomes more and more difficult to maintain a robust infrastructure when developer teams expand.


8. Vagrant


Although Vagrant is not an official version control solution, it still can be used to maintain control in different versions of environments and has proven to be very useful for PHP developers. It provides a wide array of options to create virtual environments. For instance, if developers feel there is a reason to support multiple version of PHP, Vagrant is an excellent choice in accomplishing this.

Main features of Vagrant:


●     When environments are no longer needed, it’s easy to discard of them using Vagrant

●     Enables users to create development environments that have the required components and are included based on the project developers are working on.

9. Git


From the few that are available for companies of each size, Git is one of the more useful version control solutions. It can be used as a standalone solution (although many developers do not recommend this) or with third-party repositories. Additionally, Git is often used for personal projects by many developers all over the world and gets plenty of support from the developer community.

Main features of Git:

●     Sharing knowledge among the developers that utilise Git for their work or personal project via the platform.

●     Great support for cloud-based repositories

●     Has an easy learning curve

10. GitHub


Not to be confused with the previously mentioned Git. Although both platforms often work together, they are two separate solutions. While GitHub is the cloud-based repository, Git is used as an instrument to deal with the transaction of code, data, and knowledge.

Main features of GitHub:


●     Easy to learn

●     Simplifies the transferability of skills

●     Can be utilised as a collaboration tool

●     Can be accessed anywhere as it’s a cloud-based solution


Are there any tools missing? Which do you recommend?