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Zend Studio for Eclipse
An IDE of great promise

Debugger
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 valuable indeed.

Preferences
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.

SQL Connections
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.

Code Gallery
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.

Summary
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.

About Peter MacIntyre
Peter MacIntyre lives and works in Prince Edward Island, Canada where he has been in the IT business for over 18 years. Peter and co-author Ian Morse are nearing the completion of a guidebook for Zend Studio for Eclipse soon to be published by Pearson Publishers. Peter’s website is: http://www.paladin-bs.com

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