Zend Studio for Eclipse
An IDE of great promise
Nov. 29, 2007 10:00 PM
Another big aspect to Zend's Studio for
Eclipse is its full-featured debugger. This is one of the best
debuggers that I've seen in a long time. Figure 4
shows a sample program in debug mode in the PHP Debug Perspective.
There are many views here that support the debug process. In the middle
of the top pane you can track your variables, breakpoints, and
parameter stack. To the right of that is a view that holds the outputs
of the debugger in both HTML and browser-rendered formats. Then in the
middle pane is the code that's being traversed with the debugger, so
you can see the code as it's being executed.
If you can see the
mouse-pointer in Figure 4 it's pointing to the toolbar items in the
debugger that help you navigate through a debugging session. Here you
can step into, over, or through (to the cursor) your code as you're
looking for the problems in your application. Being able to stop you
coding at certain stages of execution and inspecting values can be very
The plethora of options that control
how the Studio works is huge! If you select the preferences option
under the window menu you'll be presented with the dialog that appears
in Figure 5.
Here you can change the default behavior of almost every aspect of this
IDE. From the editor to the SQL connections to the Internet settings
it's all here. Specifically shown in Figure 5 are the options you have
for altering the syntax colorization of the PHP code. Since there are
so many options for you to choose from be sure to change only one or
two features at a time so that you can see what the alteration really
does, and so you don't have that many changes to roll back that you
forget which option made the change you really wanted.
Studio for Eclipse also has a very
nice SQL Perspective where you can interact with any local or remote
data source. As shown in Figure 6,
I have a local MySQL data source selected in the left pane, the Data
Source Explorer, with some executed SQL select statements running in
the lower central portion of the screen. On the lower right the results
of the most recently executed SQL command is displayed, and at the top
is a SQL editor file where you can write your own more complex SQL
commands to be executed.
This SQL interface has many features
and options as well. In the Data Source Explorer a number of options
are presented when you click the right-mouse button. You can even edit
the data in a table directly within this perspective.
One other feature that's great for
team development is the code gallery that Zend has implemented into
Studio for Eclipse. This is a two-pronged repository of tried and
tested code snippets that can be repeatedly used in multiple projects.
The idea is that you can come up with some great code segments and save
them into this gallery for others to use. Figure 7
has a screen shot of an entry being made into the gallery. Once you
have a library of code to draw from you can open its defined view and
simply click the 'insert' button on its tool bar to insert the code at
the current location of your cursor within the code you're developing.
The second prong of this code gallery is that Zend has a global gallery
where it's collected some of the best code ideas of the PHP community.
With your Zend username and password you can access this repository and
use the code in your own projects. And if you come up with a great
segment of code on your own, you can also 'suggest' it to the Zend
gallery, and on review it may be included in Zend's gallery for all the
world to peruse.
Zend's Studio for Eclipse has many more
features that I haven't mentioned here. Below is a brief list of what
else is in store for you.
• Zend Framework integration
• CVS file management
• FTP/ SFTP connection
• WYSIWYG editor
• Zend platform integration
• Code refactoring
As I mentioned when I started I've been looking for the perfect
IDE for years and have experienced many different stages of their
incantations. Zend Studio for Eclipse is still young and unseasoned,
but I think it will definitely be in the running for a top icon spot on
my desktop and used on a regular basis as I continue my development
journey with PHP. As Studio for Eclipse matures and versions 2 and 3
show up over time I'm sure that Zend will be continually adding
features to it, so it can only get better.