Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Blue Box Blog, Elizabeth White, Sunil Rajasekar, Ruxit Blog, Pat Romanski

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
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...