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11thMarch 2010

Trying Netbeans

Posted at 12:15pm by Jason in Web development

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First off, my IDE of choice for the last few years has been Eclipse with the PDT (PHP Development Tools) plugin.

It has served me well and on several platforms too – currently on Windows 7 but for about a year my work box was running Ubuntu – ahh the good times.  Anyway, back to the point. After trying lots of PHP dev tools, I stumbled across the PDT project and decided to try it out.  Never really looked back.

The other day, after a bit of a conversation on Twitter, I was prompted to try Netbeans as a PHP environment.  Like Eclipse, its origins are as a Java tool and I’ve previously tried it out as such, but it now sports a PHP plugin. Time to revisit.

First impressions

Netbeans, it looks good, got to give it that. It also has a much smaller footprint than Eclipse and, on my laptop at least, seems to have a quicker start up.

Although SVN integration is included (as is CVS and Mecurial support), I did have to download some Windows binaries to access SVN functionality. Handily, this was sorted with in the IDE and somewhat mirrors the need to install Subclipse for SVN support in Eclipse. Tick.

Remote debugging worked straight away, but that was mainly due to me already having Xdebugconfigured on my local WAMP setup. Tick.

Real usage

I set up a few of my existing projects, cheating a little bit by selecting the Eclipse keybindings in the preferences.  The projects imported with no issue and I got to work.

The first thing that I encountered was that the SVN client. Wasn’t quite obvious how to create a new branch on the server.  Needing to get some work done I quickly switched to TortoiseSVN to sort that. I’ve since figured it out, probably been spoiled by Subclipse having a “Branch/Tag” menu entry when it is really just “Copy”, so that really isn’t a bad point.

The interface felt responsive, code completion/insight/intellisense, whatever you want to call it, worked as expected, pulling in information stored in PHPDoc format from custom classes and functions. Tick

Conclusion

All in all, it was a pretty good experience. I can’t really say yet that it will temp me away from Eclipse/PDT, but I’m going to give it a bit more time. Watch this space as the trial continues.

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