Archives For software

Eight PHP Power Tools

February 4, 2010

Yesterday, InfoWorld posted an in-depth review of eight PHP-capable IDE’s. Eclipse with PDT, Netbeans, Zend Studio, NuSphere PhpED, and ActiveState Komodo all get “very good” marks. Of these, Eclipse and Netbeans are free, which is always a bonus. If you’re looking for a new IDE for your PHP development, do read this article.

Personally, I use a text editor for my PHP development (TextMate for Mac OS X). But I have used Eclipse quite a bit, just not for PHP. Eclipse is a standard foundation for lots of IDEs, like Flex Builder/Flash Builder and Aptana Studio. I’ve used Netbeans for Ruby development. Both Netbeans and Eclipse are quite good and extremely extendable, but not as user-friendly as some commercial products, in my opinion. I never really took to Zend Studio, for no particular reason. Maybe the price! I did use NuSphere PhpEd for a while (I did some consulting work for that company) and it seemed to be a very likable solution, but it only runs on Windows, which rules it out for me.

I came across a product called Alkaline the other day, put out by Litmus. Alkaline is a Mac application that allows you to test a Web site on up to 17 different Windows browsers. It’s much like a Windows-specific version of BrowserShots, but guaranteed to always return quick results and with a few bonus features such as plug-ins that work with common text editors and IDE’s like TextMate or Coda. For more, check out this screencast. You should also check out BrowserShots, if you haven’t already. For the occassional browser test, BrowserShots is fantastic. For more frequent and reliable Windows tests, you may find that Alkaline is worth the money (they have a free version, a day pass, or different subscription rates).

Litmus also makes an application for testing how a newsletter will look in different email clients.

I stumbled upon this Web site called the Open Source Alternative. The entire point of the site is to identify open source alternatives to common commercial (or just not open source) applications. For example, if you need something like Visio, but don’t want to give Microsoft any more money, you can check out Dia. The site is pretty simple, well organized, and easy to navigate. It includes descriptions of the various software, including the operating systems they run on and user reviews. As a person that prefers using open source software whenever possible, it’s nice to have a resource like this available when my next need arises.

JetBrains just released version 1 of a new Ruby and Ruby on Rails IDE called RubyMine. It features everything you’d expect in an IDE, like code completion, project navigation, HTML/CSS/JS editing, version control software (VCS) support, plus lots of Ruby and Rails-specific features. Version 1.1 of RubyMine is expected in May, with support for version 2.3 of Rails (a significant upgrade). The software is available under two licenses, one (free) for open-source projects and another commercial license ($99 US at the time of this writing).

I StumbledUpon this page that lists 21 Lesser-Known Open-Source Applications for Windows. As a person that prefers to use open-source software and tries to avoid using Windows, I was intrigued by the listing. As the article points out, many people are already using open-source and cross platform software like the Firefox Web browser, Thunderbird email client, GIMP image manipulation software, OpenOffice Microsoft Office alternative, and the VLC video player. (Although, as an aside, while I do use Firefox as my primary browser, and often use VLC, I’ve never really thought that GIMP or OpenOffice were really comparable to the commercial alternatives.) The author does a good job of highlighting a mix of things, from utilities to multimedia to games. I expect I’ll try out ZScreen for my next book, as I always need to take screenshots on Windows (while testing code). If I used Windows regularly, I expect I’d love Launchy, as I love QuickSilver on my Mac. Being able to start applications without moving over to the mouse is such a timesaver. I also do use Filezilla on Windows, and recommend it in my books, as a good, free FTP application.

I don’t talk much about Windows, despite so many of you out there using it, so I thought I would pass this along.