Although I mostly blog about .NET and related technologies, tools, etc., this time I’m writing about PHP. I work a lot with PHP as well. And recently I got a small project to do and I was looking for a free but cute PHP IDE. I’m quite aware about Eclipse and PHP Development Tools for Eclipse, but I still was wondering if there is some other free tool for PHP. Eventually, I remembered NetBeans.

NetBeans is mostly known for Java developers as a good and free IDE. At the same time recently NetBeans started supporting other languages, like C/C++, Ruby and finally PHP. Moreover it not only supports plain PHP, but it offers quite good support of HTML and JavaScript.

Ok, what do I mean by the term of “support”? I mean a standard set of features that every IDE must provide:

  • Project based structure
  • Code completion
  • Code navigator
  • Error checking while typing
  • Debugging
  • Versioning

So, NetBeans has it all. Furthemore, it works greatly with JavaScript that was a quite a surprise for me after a while working of with Eclipse. So, NetBeans has a nice code completion feature for JavaScript as well, that will understand your and 3rd party libraries, jQuery, for instance.


Then, NetBeans enables you to interact with databases straight from the IDE. You can connect to MySQL server and create a table for example.



Generally, I feel pretty good about NetBeans. It seems to be working much faster than Eclipse, both in terms of the loading time and in terms of code editing and code completion as well. I guess I’d better draw a comprehensive feature comparison with Eclipse PDT, but I will do that next time.

Now I just want to recommend anyone who is looking for a decent free IDE for PHP to give NetBeans a try. If you don’t need to write Java code, you can download a PHP only package that is just about 25 MB that is far lighter than the mentioned PDT.