JetBrains—the makers of IntelliJ IDEA—have unsurprisingly created the only PHP development environment worth paying for a license of.

I first experienced a JetBrains IDE back in 2001 when I was working for an enterprise J2EE portal startup. At the time, refactoring was the big deal and IntelliJ was the first IDE to offer useful refactoring features. They were pretty damn amazing to be honest, and a few years later when I was forced to adopt Eclipse at another job, I couldn’t stand it. Eclipse wanted to be the Open Source answer to IntelliJ, but they missed the mark by a mile IMO, and never remedied that.

Shortly thereafter, I began freelancing and working with PHP on a regular basis. At that time, I was searching for a PHP IDE that could do things like IntelliJ did for Java, but everything I tried was either built on Eclipse or NetBeans, and was thus horrible in terms of performance and user-experience. I went back to TextMate, but I missed the rich experience I was used to when working with IntelliJ. That is, until I heard JetBrains had made WebStorm and PhpStorm based on their very mature IntelliJ platform. I couldn’t have been more excited.

I’m happy to say that my excitement has not waned at all after several years of using PhpStorm as my primary development tool. Though PHP is just now getting to a point in its own development where useful refactorings can be automated through the IDE—and PhpStorm does a great job of supporting the refactorings that can be easily automated in PHP—the features and feel of PhpStorm are exactly what I would have expected from a JetBrains product. Everything is simple, intuitive, fast (for a Java-based IDE anyway) and stable.

There is also plenty of peripheral support for the additional web languages and technologies typically used in PHP projects, including Javascript, CSS, HTML, SQL, and much more. And it improves with every release, which keep coming from JetBrains at a pace that is unmatched by most product development groups I’ve ever worked with. That provides peace of mind, especially when working with a commercial software product in a world that is increasingly dominated by Open Source software offerings. Their Early Access Program is also a testament to their dedication to creating a quality experience for developers using the tools.

You can try PhpStorm free for 30 days and I encourage you to do it today if you are in any way serious about PHP development. The powerful integrations with modern PHP frameworks and tools are incredible, including built-in support for Twig, Phing, PHPUnit, and much more. Even working with older legacy PHP projects is a pleasure in the tool. They have produced a well thought out development environment with the flexibility to handle all kinds of projects. Not an easy accomplishment and they deserve to be recognized for their excellence.