We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Programming software Reviews
15,669 Reviews

PhpStorm review

Free for individual use

Manufacturer: JetBrains

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

JetBrains PhpStorm is a cross-platform development environment for JavaScript, PHP, and other Web-related languages.

This happens to me all the time: I am watching a movie, and the camera zooms in on a computer monitor showing the hero performing some impossible feat of tech wizardry. I find myself thinking, "Come on, things are never this slick in real life." Well, if a movie showed PhpStorm, I would probably be thinking that exact same thought.

Surprisingly, PhpStorm is real. It is a highly polished IDE for working with PHP, JavaScript, and other Web-related languages, and its editing interface is an absolute joy to use. It offers a unique editing experience that goes beyond anything I've seen an IDE do before. See also: Group test: what's the best programming software?

Let's look at some examples: IDEs usually offer a ton of features and aren't easy to navigate. With PhpStorm, just tap Ctrl-Shiftm-A and start typing whatever it is you are trying to do. Trying to merge different files? Type mer and instant suggestions will pop up, each with its own description, shortcut key (if any), and menu location. Just scroll through the list and hit Enter when you find the command you need--and now you know how to get to it through the menu or shortcut keys, too. See all: PC Advisor software downloads

Another one: Let's say you're at the bottom of a very long block of code. It's so long you can't even see its beginning--all you see is a closing brace. Just put your cursor on that brace, and PhpStorm will overlay the beginning line on top of the window, above the text editing area. I don't mean just a tooltip, but the whole line, syntax highlighted and numbered. I told you it's slick.

Or let's take the Preferences dialog. All IDEs contain numerous options, and many also contain a live-search box in the preferences dialog, to help you find what you need. But most editors just show you the page containing the option you searched for--it is up to you to hunt for it amidst all the other ones. PhpStorm helps by dimming all other options out, making the one you need pop out.

One thing you should understand before using PhpStorm is that it really is an IDE. You can't use it for just making a quick edit to a remote file and move on. To begin working with PhpStorm, you need to create a project. If your files are already on a remote server (on a live website), you will need to show PhpStorm exactly what files and directories it should download, and what files it should leave on the server. Otherwise, you may find yourself downloading hundreds of megabytes just to start editing your existing website.

Sometimes PhpStorm is a bit too slick for its own good. For example, it includes a diff utility for showing differences between a local file and its server-side copy. This dialog lets you merge changes from the server side, but this is shown via an elegant chevron overlaid on the gutter of the line that was changed, which I did not recognize as a button at first.

PhpStorm Expert Verdict »

Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
Intel Pentium III/800 MHz or higher (or compatible)
512MB RAM minimum, 2GB recommended
1024 by 768 minimum screen resolution
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Like other IDEs, PhpStorm does take some time to study, but it can also be addictive. Its polished editing interface can make you feel like you are programming in the future--all you need is the right soundtrack to go with it.

  • WebStorm review


    WebStorm is a development environment for JavaScript, HTML and CSS. It's not cheap, but our WebStorm review shows that it may be a good investment for any developer.

  • Komodo Edit review

    Komodo Edit

    Komodo Edit is a free and powerful programmer's text editor built on the same foundation as Mozilla Firefox.

  • Cloud9 IDE review

    Cloud9 IDE

    Cloud9 IDE is a beautifully designed Web-based development environment.

  • TinyEdit review


    TinyEdit is software that packs a good amount of syntax-aware editing power into a very small space.

  • BlackBerry Tour 9630 review

    BlackBerry Tour 9630

    The Research in Motion BlackBerry Tour is RIM's new CDMA BlackBerry device. The BlackBerry Tour 9630 melds the best of the BlackBerry Bold and the BlackBerry Curve 8900 into one slick package.

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model