Review: PHP IDE-Integrated Development Environs I
Feature: Delphi for PHP sets a new standard for a PHP IDE
The kicker - this tool was available in 1998.
Given that date,
Delphi for PHP Support of Key PHP IDE Features
|Editor - code completion and syntax coloring
||faster development, fewer coding errors
|Editor - auto line-numbering, code collapsing, comments
||ease of finding returned error codes in testing
|Editor - class, function tree
||faster code navigation, and code checking
|Editor - code snippets and templates
||faster, safer code development using tested code
|Editor - built-in database explorer
||able to confirm and set database properties quickly
|Debugger - display runtime results in IDE
||convenience and speed of debugging
|Debugger - step through source code
||track down bugs more completely and quickly
|Debugger - user breakpoints and watches
||see variables at the suspected "scene of the crime"
|Debugger - assign a variable a new value
||prolong getting useful results from debug session
|Debugger - server-side as well as client-side support
||prevent black-hole doubts where error is occurring
|Visual Layout - use of drag and drop components
||better prototyping of apps look and feel
|Visual Layout - alignment, spacing, sizing options
||faster fixes for many styling changes
|Visual Layout - properties table for widget attributes
||more precise control of customizations
|Visual Layout - multiple layout and boundary conditions
||what happens on resizing of widget or whole window
|Visual Layout - database, Web Service aware widgets
||dialog-based customization of tricky coding
|Scripting - variables and if conditions
||simple replacement templates, customize rote tasks
|Scripting - loops and file reads
||advanced template-driven code generation, testing
|Team - check, in checkout
||basic safety net of concurrency control
|Team - collaboration, shared task list, messaging
||crucial for dispersed development teams
Delphi for PHP
Now there is no denying that Delphi for PHP brings a very powerful IDE to the PHP table. But my questions are threefold:
1)Is it too complicated for PHP coders used to Visual Notepad or Vi as their developer tool of choice ?
2)Is it too specific with its dependence on the VCL Classes for much of components and form technology ?
3)Could you use this to help customize Open Source PHP code like Drupal, Gallery or
First, yes Delphi for PHP is too sophisticated for many PHP coders that really have set up their own templates and snippets in Visual Vi
and are comfortable there. But Visual Studio/ASP coders and Eclipse/Netbeans coders doing Struts/JSP/JSF work will be at home in Delphi for PHP. In fact they will find its debugging and database explorer tools a notch above. And most importantly, for big PHP projects they will find that Delphi for PHP can be very helpful.
Second, Delphi for PHP does depend on the VCL for PHP's class framework. In turn, its whole component and GUI system are driven off of this unique and very capable framework. However, there are two very big problems with VCL for PHP: a)it like the Delphi for PHP IDE is rich but also complicated with a significant learning curve and b) it competes against an array of other component frameworks and has a very small market share. In other areas such as database connectivity, transactional processing, and some client processing
So if you are doing intensively Web 2.0 GUI apps in PHP, you may want to evaluate very carefully how well you think the VCL for PHP a)measures up and b)will do as the market evolves. VCL for PHP does not yet have RAIA capabilities - the ability to run in any mode (PC Desktop, web browser, or mobile device) and in either online or offline mode. Also the need to run in any OS environ (Windows, Apple, Linux, Unix and a host of mobile OS platforms) seems like a natural until you have to run offline on Apple without Web browser support. Ditto for a mobile app running under Symbian or Android. But, hey these are the same issues confronting AJAX developers who also have many competing GUI frameworks and just the glimmer of offline operations in Google Gears and Firefox 3 offline capabilities.
There is good news and bad news here. The good news is that Delphi for PHP is really the best PHP IDE on the market by far. Delphi for PHP is really well equipped for developing medium to large PHP "greensite" programs. Its critical VCL for PHP GUI library has the nice property of being Open Source, and directly customizable by users - all the documentation as well as source code is available. The bad news is the following two questions are still open to debate: 1)will VCL for PHP become a large vibrant PHP GUI framework and 2)will it develop efficient offline as well as online capabilities? I suspect the answer to question 2) - that will largely answer question 1). Unfortunately, my crystal ball becomes hazy at this point.
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