Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Amit Gupta

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]

 
Debugger
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.
 

Preferences
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]

Summary

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: http://www.zend.com/products/zend_studio/eclipse 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: http://www.paladin-bs.com

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
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.