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Image: JetBrains

Software development with the PHP programming language is a venture many developers enjoy as long as they have the right integrated development environment (IDE) solution. Among many IDEs available to PHP developers, PhpStorm stands out as one of the most adopted IDEs in software development companies; however, there are alternatives to PhpStorm available for PHP developers to explore. Here is a breakdown of the best PhpStorm alternative to help you make a choice, if you need to expand your IDE tools.

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What is PhpStorm?

PhpStorm is a paid Java-based IDE developed by JetBrains for PHP programmers. It features many capabilities that support PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 and 8.0. With PhpStorm, developers can enjoy error-detection, auto-completion, zero-configuration debugging, code refactoring, extended HTML, CSS and JavaScript editor. The IDE also features code formatting, syntax highlighting, code folding and multiple programming language support.

Notable PhpStorm features

PhpStorm offers quite a few notable features. Knowing them will help you compare other alternatives before deciding on which one to give a try.

  • Support for PHP frameworks: PhpStorm is the ideal option for using PHP frameworks, including several well-known frameworks like CakePHP, Symfony, Laravel, Drupal and WordPress.
  • Intelligent coding assistance: PhpStorm can automatically complete code syntax and tags whenever necessary.
  • Support for databases: With PhpStorm, databases and SQL code implementation are simple, and users can connect to the database, change the tables, run different queries, and even examine the schemas with UML diagrams.
  • Git and GitHub integration: Having Git and GitHub branching and merging features is crucial. Apart from GitHub support, other version control methods such as FTP are also supported to enable quick code uploads to distant servers.
  • Testing, debugging and profiling: The Visual Debugger offers a wide range of tools for debugging, including the ability to inspect variables and user-defined watches, create breakpoints, troubleshoot remote applications, debug a page in many sessions at once, and more.

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Top free alternatives to PhpStorm

Below are free IDE solutions that work as great PhpStorm alternatives for developers.

Apache NetBeans

Apache NetBeans is one of the best open-source and free alternatives to PhpStorm for business and individual use. The tool features smart editing tools that allow developers to refactor their codes easily.

It is also compatible with many operating systems such as macOS, Windows and Linux. In addition, Apache Netbeans supports GitHub integration and other version control tools for easy source control management.


Eclipse is another Java-engineered open-source PhpStorm alternative that is free for developers. The plug-ins that make up the Eclipse IDE can be modified using third-party plug-ins. Furthermore, Eclipse can handle multiple programming languages like PHP, C++, Fortran, Haskell, JavaScript, Python, RScala, Ruby, and more.


CodeLobster is a cross-platform IDE that simplifies PHP development by featuring powerful auto completion attributes for arguments, functions, tags and more in multiple programming languages. The IDE’s built-in assistance explains some functions within the IDE via the F1 key on a keyboard.

It also features an internal debugger that allows developers to validate their code locally. In addition, the IDE can automatically reset current server settings and configure files to let users use the debugger easily.


Angular is a free Google-backed IDE tool for developing applications using current web standards. It’s packed with numerous crucial capabilities, like mobile motions, animations, filtering, routing, data binding, security, internationalization and UI components. The IDE also supports multiple programming languages like PHP, JavaScript, and HTML.

Top paid alternatives to PhpStorm

AWS Cloud9

The AWS Cloud9 is an IDE that enables software developers to use a web browser for writing, running and debugging codes. This IDE, developed by Amazon, eliminates the need for extra apps by integrating a terminal, debugger and code editor as well as supporting other crucial programming languages like PHP, Python and JavaScript.

Zend Studio

The Zend Studio IDE is designed to create robust PHP applications that boost the developer’s productivity. This IDE combines mobile applications with PHP; offers great features like a smart code editor to write code more quickly; and supports the use of resources such as GitFlow, Docker and Eclipse. It also features popular frameworks, source control and cloud alternatives.


Codeanywhere is a paid PhpStorm alternative. It is a Cloud IDE designed to save developers time by enabling them to quickly code, build and collaborate on projects from a browser.

The Codeanywhere development environment supports all major programming languages and is packed with pre-installed tools and databases. The IDE allows developers to spin up powerful containers in seconds that can be fully preconfigured for the programming environment of their choice.

Another important feature of this IDE is that it enables developers to host an application or web page directly on a container.

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