Essential PHP Development Tools For Improving Your Programming Workflow

Do you know what runs your favorite websites like Facebook, WordPress and Digg? Well, these are only a few of the over 20 million websites that owe allegiance to PHP – one of the most widely used open-source server-side scripting languages. And PHP developers who swear by its user-friendliness offer you many good reasons to believe why PHP is preferred over other server-side scripting languages, such as Python and Ruby.
PHP, besides being faster and easier-to-use; comes with detailed documentation, well-supported frameworks, several ready-to-use scripts, and a huge community of enthusiastic PHP developers. Here in this article we will be discussing the essential PHP developmental tool that will help improve your programming workflow.
Debugging Tools
Debugging tools should essentially be installed on the development server of every PHP development company as they help break down their code, stop execution, scrutinize the environment at any point; and identify problems. So of the most popular and efficient debugger or debugging tool for PHP are: Xdebug, Webgrind, DBG, PHP_Debug, GubedPHP Debugger, PHP_Dyn, etc. to name a few.
Frameworks for PHP
Frameworks are undeniably the most important tool ever PHP developer would like to have in his toolbox; and the type of framework you choose largely depends around the type of projects you work and on your style. Broadly speaking, while the first type of frameworks is a CMS, the second type is a more generic programming framework and as a PHP developer you need to make an informed choice as to what suits your requirement and proficiency the best.
The most common PHP frameworks are CakePHP, CodeIgniter, symfony, ZendFramework, Yii Framework, NetBeans, Propel, PEAR, Dwoo, Qcodo, Smarty, SAJAX, PHPSpec, etc.
Testing and Optimization tool
Testing and optimization tools are a great asset to have in the development process. Some of the popular testing and optimization tools are PHP Unit, Simple Test, Selenium, PHP_CodeSniffer, PHP Profile Class, etc.
Documentation Tools
Documentation tools enables you to search titles from all PHP documentation pages. Some of the most preferred PHP documentation tools are phpDocumentor and PHP DOX, which is an AJAX-powered PHP documentation search engine.
PHP Code-Beautifier
These PHP tools saves you from hours of reformatting code to suit your own way of presenting it. Some of the most in-demand PHP Code Beautifier tools are GeSHi – Generic Syntax Highlighter (supports a wide range of popular languages, where developers can easily add new languages for highlighting and easily defining customizable output formats), PHP_Beautifier, and PHPCodeBeautifier.
Image Manipulation and Graphs
These tools enables you to create attractive Web charts and graphs from dynamic data. Some of the powerful PHP tools for image manipulation and graphs are WideImage, pChart, PHP/SWF Charts, MagickWand for PHP to name a few. These tools help you to quickly incorporate image-editing features in your PHP applications.
Security Tools
These are essential PHP tools that helps system administrators track vulnerability findings, list possible vulnerable points in the program, and respond. Some of the popular PHP security tools are Securimage, Scavenger, PHP-IDS, and Pixy: PHP Security Scanner, etc.
PHP Online Tools and Resources
Some of the most common PHP online tools and resources are Minify (a PHP 5 app that can combine multiple CSS or JavaScript files), PHP Object Generator (helps quickly construct PHP objects and leverage object-oriented programming principles in your code), Koders (a search engine for open-source and downloadable code) and PECL (a directory of all known PHP extensions and a hosting facility for downloading and developing PHP extensions).
Version Control Systems
These tools are an asset for organizing and maintaining different dimensions of your project. Some of the most preferred PHP development tools for version control systems are Phing, xinc and Subversion, etc.
In-browser Tools (Firefox Add-ons)
These on-browser PHP tools are an asset for PHP developers that includes ‘built-in search bar’ like PHP Lookup, which help you quickly look up references to PHP syntax; FirePHP – a Firefox extension that allows you to log data in Firebug, PHP Manual Search (a useful search bar that searches official PHP documentation from within your Web browser) and phpLangEditor (a Firefox add-on tool for translating language files and variables in your script.
PHP IDEs and Editors
PHP editor/IDE are excellent PHP development tools very intuitive user interface and useful features. Some of the popular PHP IDE/Editors are PhpED (robust and feature-packed IDE for Windows users), PHP Eclipse (PHP source-code editor that runs on all the major operating systems), Zend Studio (PHP IDE for Eclipse), PHPEdit and PHPDesigner to name a few.
Useful Extensions, Utilities and Classes
Some of the useful extensions, utilities and classes that make for great PHP tool are SimplePie (a class that helps you work with RSS feeds), HTML Purifier (open source and highly customizable tool that helps remove all malicious code – XSS, htmlSQL (a PHP class for querying HTML values in an SQL-like syntax), Creole, PHPLinq, PHPMyAdmin, PHPExcel, amongst many.
Have you been using these tools in your PHP development process?