I have been on the hunt for a better PHP editor or IDE (Integrated Development Environment). phpDesigner made my short list and has received positive reviews elsewhere. I have tested it out, and here is what I think of it:
phpDesigner is one of the most popular PHP IDE's on the market. At 39 Euros it is an absolute steal compared with the more expensive IDE's, like Zend Studio ($299). It is packed with features that should speed up your development time.
What I liked about it
Live parsing: The live parsing is a great help. As you type your code, phpDesigner is parsing and it and checking it for syntax errors. It reports any errors on the bottom of the screen as you type.
Function IntelliSense and descriptions: As you begin typing a PHP function name, the IntelliSense will give you a list of available functions for the letters that you have already typed. It will also display a short description for that function, which is very handy if you are not sure of the exact description to chose.
If you have are returning to a script, you can click on a PHP function name and the description will appear.
Interface: The interface is visually pleasant and fairly well laid out.
Project management tools: phpDesigner comes equipped with project manager tools like a debugging tracker.
There are loads of features with phpDesigner, as listed on their website. The above is just a short list of my favorites.
What I didn't like
FTP: The integrated FTP client is simply terrible. If is difficult and time consuming to open files directly off the server and to upload to the server. This makes the quick changes very time consuming.
No clipboard: Some IDE's and PHP editors include a clipboard. When you copy or cut, the text appears in the clipboard (along with a list of other items that you have copied or cut) and you can add it to another part of your code at a later date. This feature does not exist in phpDesigner.
Interface design: At first glance, the interface appears to be nicely presented. But after using it for a short while, it seems as if features have been added at random and the interface is not intuitive enough.
phpDesigner is packed with the same features that the more expensive PHP IDE's boast. It is generally a good quality piece of kit. However, the lack of a sophisticated FTP was a real deal breaker for me. I am used to opening files off the server and making quick changes. I am also used to transferring files up to the server just by hitting a shortcut key. I can not work with a IDE or editor that can not do this, so I have had to strike phpDesigner off the short list.