Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Anders Wallgren, Greg O'Connor, Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: Eclipse, Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud

Eclipse: Article

Product Review: Zend Studio for Eclipse

The professional version is currently in beta being test run by over 800 users and PHP developers all around the world

In my many years of programming, almost 20 years now, I have used countless Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). I have used them from a simple text editor all the way up to the high end IDEs that Sybase, IBM, and Oracle use.  In more recent years I have come to embrace the Open Source movement and more specifically development in web environments. My programming language of choice for web development these days is PHP, so it stands to reason that I would be looking for a decent or great IDE for its development.  Like so many other developers I too followed a path of looking for the Pinnacle of IDEs for PHP.  I started with basic text editors, then moved into text editors with code colorizations, and then into project based development environments, and finally to a fully robust IDE.  The one that I most recently was using was Zend’s Studio Professional and I have been using it for a few years now.
Zend has decided, and I think this is a great idea, to join in with the Eclipse community that was founded in large part by IBM a number of years ago. The values that can be added by joining with the Eclipse community are many and varied. Since Eclipse was primarily established as a Java development environment it has certainly grown in leaps and bounds by way of add-on libraries just to name one popular area.  Zend saw that this was a great place to cozy up to and has been developing a professional version of its PDT environment (released earlier this year) for over a year now.  The PDT version is its open source free-ware version of an editor IDE that is based on the Eclipse foundation materials.
This article will attempt to introduce you to the Professional version that will be released soon.  It is currently in beta being test run by over 800 users and PHP developers all around the world.
First Looks - Overview
The first thing that you will have to do after obtaining the software, naturally, is to install it.  Zend has ensured that Studio for Eclipse will work on all major operating systems, and this review will be covering its operation on the Windows platform.  The installation process is very straightforward and employs an install wizard approach. 

Figure 1 - One of Studio's Installation wizard screens [click on this link for the larger version]

Figure 1 shows one of the initial installation screens where you are to select some of the additional tool options that are also included. Once the installation is completed and you start up the application you will be presented with the default PHP perspective, shown here as figure 2.


Figure 2 - Studio's default PHP Perspective [click on this link for the larger version]

Take some time to look at Figure 2 to get yourself familiarized with the layout.  Those who are seasoned users of Eclipse should not be seeing too many surprises here just the content and the context will be different.  There are a few “views” here that are used in the initial perspective that are meant to aid the developer with PHP code development.
The first view to look at is in the top left corner of this figure. This is the PHP Project Explorer. Here you can manage all the files and associations that are related to a single project.  The great thing about this view is that you can manage more than one project at a time and therefore draw on code or techniques that you may have used in other projects. One other thing that I like a lot here is the “Link with Editor” toggle on the project view’s toolbar (  ) it allows the developer to connect the editor with any file in the project, so that once the file gains focus in the project explorer it is automatically opened in the code editor window on the left.  As I mentioned this is a toggle, so it can be turned on and off at the developer’s discretion.

The Code Editor

Also notice in Figure 2 that the main view in the figure is that of the code editor, briefly mentioned above.  This is where you will be doing most of your code development. The Code editor view has many little features that become very valuable over time. This is a tabbed interface, so you can effectively have as many open code files as you like.  Some of the valuable features that were alluded to are: code colorization, code folding, and syntax checking. You can see what the code colorization is doing in this figure, the HTML directives are in green, the PHP functions are in blue, PHP variables are in red, and so on. This certainly helps the developer to see if a variable is misnamed or a function misspelled. The next feature that I mentioned is code folding.  Notice that to the left of the function definitions and the major HTML directives like <Table> and <Body> there are little plus and minus icons.  When clicked they toggle between collapsing or expanding code. This lends itself to temporarily moving code out of view that you do not want to see in order to focus on other sections. This does not delete the code it just “folds” it out of the way for you. Lastly, syntax checking, this is the Studio’s ability to check your code as you write it and make sure that you have complete code “thoughts”.  It lets you know when you have mismatched braces, incorrect function calls, misnamed variables, and so on. Also, part of this syntax checking will be preformed within the collection of smaller views at the bottom of this perspective.  Another tabbed interface shows a collection of code issues, what type they are (warning or error), and what line in the code they are found in.  The tab can also be seen in Figure 2 labelled “Problems”
Those are just a few of the features that Studio for Eclipse has to offer. One of my favourites is that of code completion.  This is the editor’s ability to suggest the completion of the code that you are writing. It happens as you type and is quite intuitive. As shown in figure 3, I am typing the beginnings of a MySQL PHP function, but all I have typed so far was “mysql_” the popup box displays with the functions that studio knows about that would complete what has already been typed, and just pressing enter will choose the first item on the list of suggestions and insert it into the editor for you. You can select other offerings from the list with your mouse pointer and double-click on it to choose it for insertion.

Figure 3 - Code Completion in Studio [click on this link for the larger version]

Another big aspect to Zend’s Studio for Eclipse is its full-featured debugger.  This is one of the best debuggers that I have 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 are supporting 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 format. Then showing in the middle pane is the code that is being traversed with the debugger, so you can see the code as it is being executed. 

Figure 4 - Debug session in Studio [click on this link for the larger version]

If you can see the mouse-pointer in figure 4 it is 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 are looking for the problems in your application. Having the ability to stop you code at certain stages of execution and inspecting values can be very valuable indeed.

The plethora of options that control how the Studio works is huge!  If you select the preferences option under the window menu you will be presented with the dialog that appears in figure 5. Here you can change the default behaviour 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 that you have for altering the syntax colorization for the PHP code. Since there are so many options for you to choose from be sure to only change one or two features at a time so that you can see what the alteration really does, and so that you don’t have so many changes to roll back that you forget which option enacted the change that you really wanted.


Figure 5 - Zend Studio for Eclipse Preferences Dialogue  [click on this link for the larger version]

SQL Connections

Studio for Eclipse also has a very nice SQL Perspective where you can interact with any local or remote data source.  As exampled 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 run in the lower central portion of the screen. On the lower right is the display of the results of the most recently executed SQL command, 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 there are a number of options presented to you when you click the right-mouse button. You can even edit the data in a table directly within this perspective.

Figure 6 - SQL Perspective for database manipulation [click on this link for the larger version]

Code Gallery

One other feature that is great from the team development point of view 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 used repeatedly in multiple projects. The idea is that you can come up with some great code segments and then 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 on the ‘insert’ button on its tool bar to insert the code at the current location of your cursor within code that you are developing. 
The second prong of this code gallery is that Zend has a global gallery where they have collected some of the best code ideas from the PHP community.  With your Zend username and password you can access this repository and use the code in your own projects. As well, if you come up with a great segment of code on your own, you can also ‘suggest’ it to the Zend gallery, and upon review it may be included into Zend’s gallery for all the world to peruse.

Figure 7 - Studio's Code Gallery list and interface [click on this link for the larger version]


Zend’s Studio for Eclipse has many more features that I have not mentioned here.  Following is a brief list just to mention 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 in the opening paragraphs I have been looking for the perfect IDE for many years and have experienced many different stages of their incantations.  Zend Studio for Eclipse is young and un-seasoned as of yet, but I think it will definitely be in the running for a top icon spot on my desktop and will be 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 am sure that Zend will be continually adding features to it, so it can only get better.
Footnote: Zend has just announced a public beta for this product at: so if you are interested in getting this IDE and trying it out, this is the best opportunity to do so right now.

More Stories By 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:

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Dan Chase 10/24/07 05:36:31 AM EDT

Peter, thanks for the overview. As I too have been a long time user of Zend Studio, and have recently switched to using PDT I was hoping for some more comparison between the three products. The one item in your review that I was reminded of that was Zend-specific was the Code Snippets. Have you done a feature-to-feature comparison of them? I was thinking of writing an article for php|a with that focus, but I think you've beat me to the punch with the core information! I've download Neon and have worked with it some over the past week, but found one inconvenience that is holding me back. All my current projects are in PDT and I have been using the Subclipse plug-in and I find that Neon uses Subversive. I have to create *new* repository connections to use it with the same checked-out code. A minor issue, but from my reading of Subclipse vs. Subversion comparisons, I'm leaning toward staying with Subclipse. On a related note, have you experimented with adding other Eclipse plug-ins with Neon?

Thanks for the article, and any feedback you can provide would be great! Maybe content for a follow-up article...

Endzoner 10/16/07 08:47:55 AM EDT

Great review Thanks peter!!

@ThingsExpo Stories
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...