How I learned To Stop Worrying and Love the IDE

As developers, the integrated development environment (IDE) we choose to use is both incredibly important and something none of us really think about. The former because it truly helps us write code quickly and efficiently, predictive text, code scanning, syntax checking, etc. The latter because once we settle on one, we usually end up sticking with it for years at a time.

In my case, I’ve been using Coda and Coda 2 for almost 10 years. It’s a fantastic piece of software, and I’ll probably never uninstall it. It’s Mac-based, has Integrated FTP/SFTP and dozens of useful open source plugins; it has built-in version control via GIT/Subversions, and lots of fun features which are all wrapped up in a nice, easy-to-use and -understand package. However, I am switching away from it for the time being due to a feature that – whether it’s my environment or an issue with their code – causes Coda to crash more often than I am able to stomach. (Local indexing for the curious.)

In looking for an editor, I wanted to find something that would give me as many of the features I’ve grown used to using in Coda, with a minimal amount of learning curve in regards to learning a new piece of software’s idiosyncrasies. I’ve used editors such as Sublime Text and Dreamweaver and I never really enjoyed them; the workflow they promoted simply didn’t fit with how I wanted to code. I had heard of PhpStorm before, but always in a way that made it sound like a feature-rich but convoluted piece of software that could do almost anything if you were willing to put in the time hitting it with a wrench. But I had some time and figured what the hell.

So I downloaded PhpStorm and discovered it contained most of the features I loved in Coda, albeit in a less elegant and intuitive manner, as well as a plethora of others that I haven’t even begun to delve into. Almost all of them were native, and there was what looked like a fairly extensive plugin set available. There are a few issues, most notably is working with files outside of the current project scope or just opening a single file to modify something is difficult. Renaming a file took a bit of getting used to, and I haven’t really gotten into how it handles file templates for creating new classes and the like.

As I said, I’m going to keep Coda installed, and will probably use it for small projects that I do in my free time. They will probably fix or remove the features that bother me and maybe I’ll switch back to it as my main environment. But for now, I’m enjoying the new love affair with PhpStorm and will stick with it despite it’s sometimes odd – at least in my mind – way of doing things. At the end of the day, it’s about using an IDE that you’re comfortable with, it doesn’t really matter what it is. If you can get the job done using notepad then, by all means, go for it. You’re insane, but go for it.

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