I have developed a lot with Symfony2 in the last months. During this time I switched my development environment a lot too find the tools that fit my workflow as good as possible. Now we have a stable release of Symfony2 available it is time to take a look at the Symfony2-Support of my favorite PHP-IDEs.


Years ago Eclipse was my main IDE for PHP development. I switched to Netbeans with the version 6.5 because it was faster, more stable and got symfony 1 support in one of the 6.x versions. I never looked back. It is fast, stable and has a lot of cool features like PHPUnit-Support or the awesome code-formatter. The symfony 1 support is good, I loved to use the command-line runner and the switching between views and controllers. The PHP support is exellent and supports PHP 5.3. But there is no special support for Symfony2 projects available at the moment. I started a feature request some month ago but there is nothing new here. For a long time there was no Twig-Support either. This can be solved by installing a Plugin but it is sometime a bit buggy and unstable.


I felt in love with PHPStorm when it was released in Version 1. It is even faster than Netbeans and has all features you need. Debugging-Support is pretty good, PHPUnit is integrated, Good Code-Formatting is available, PHP 5.3 is supported. The lookup of classes and files is fast and convinient. Twig is supported out of the box in the current stable version. All in all it is a great IDE to develop PHP-Projects. There is no special Symfony2 support at the moment. For me the great JavaScript- and CSS-Support is a big bonus, as I develop a lot of code with backbone.js and other JS-Stuff these days. PHPStorm isn’t free but available for reasonable prices. I never regret that I bought a license.


Honestly I was surprised when I checked back the PHP-/Symfony2 support of Eclipse. Two month ago I started to recheck the option to switch back to Eclipse. I was pretty surprised that there are some nice features for Symfony2 developers waiting to be discovered in Eclipse. With some additional plugins you will get a really good Symfony2-IDE. I will write a blog-post about how to setup this as soon as possible (update. Here it is: “How to build a great Eclipse-Environment for Symfony2-Development“). The highlight is definetly the Symfony2 Eclipse-Plugin. It enhance Eclipse to the most advanced Symfony2 features so far. Here are some of them:

  • Autocomplete of route-names in Twig-Templates
  • Code-Assist of Template-paths
  • Code-Assist of Container-Services
  • Annotation-Support
  • Code-Assist for translations

I still don’t like the IDE itself. It takes lang to get used to it. You have to install a lot of plugins to ge a good feature set. Most of the time you will end in a plugin hell where some plugins only work with Eclipse version x another only with version y. In the end I always had more than one Eclipse-Installations (For PHP-Development, for Java-Development, for Flex-Development…). The PHP Support in general is good but the development is done pretty much out of the view of the community.


As I blogged some time ago, PHPEdit is a capable PHP IDE. It has the most advaned symfony 1 support of any IDE on the market, but this is limited on symfony 1. There was a survey some days ago about what support for Symfony2 is needed, so the makers of PHPEdit started to work on it but there is nothing ready at the moment. Even Twig is not supported at the moment. As I’m using MAC OSX for private projects and Windows at work I need an IDE that supports both platforms. PHPEdit though is only available for Windows. PHPEdit isn’t free but the pricing is ok for what you will get.


There are other alternatives too. Some do not use fullfledged IDEs for developing. There are some really cool editors out there. I’m a long-time-user of Textmate but the development nearly stopped and the development of the Version 2 is promised for years now. It is only available on MAC OSX. The best multi-platform alternatives I found are Sublime Text 2 and redcar. Both are really cool. I like Sublime Text 2 most. As TextMate it can enhanced via Bundles, it is small and lightweight.

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