Eclipse/Zend Launch PDT (PHP Development Tools) v 1.0

The Eclipse Foundation, in cooperation with Zend, have officially launched the first stable (1.0) version of a project that’s been in development for a few years now – the PDT (PHP Development Tools) project.

The PDT project is based around the already wildly popular Eclipse platform, making it not only one of the most powerful development platforms for PHP developers, but also one of the most flexible. If there’s something you see lacking in what PDT has to offer, fixing it is as simple as one of two steps – you can either go out to the wide repository of Eclipse projects out there and find the components you might need or step up to the plate and create your own component and share it with the rest of the community. With a list of around 1,400 Eclipse plugins, though, you probably won’t be hurting for any bit of functionality you might need.

I had a chance to talk on a conference call the other day to discuss the project and what sort of impact they (Eclipse and Zend) thought it would have on not just the PHP community but the entire Open Source community as whole. The reasoning is pretty simple – the PDT project was created with one goal in mind – to take the foundation that the Eclipse project already has and make it into something that PHP developers all over the world can look to as a strong, flexible IDE option wen they’re packing their editor of choice.

Even if you’ve already become set in your ways, you should definitely check out the features that this new version of PDT has to offer. It takes bits and pieces from other IDEs out there and packages them all together into an easy to use package including:

  • Handy code editing features like syntax highlighting, code folding (a personal favorite) and little hints to remind you the details of a function you’re adding
  • the addition of both a Project and PHP Explorer views that work with introspection to update dynamically as things are added to the project (add a class to your file and it’s reflexed in the Explorer)
  • Debugging support – this includes support for their debugger (Zend’s) and XDebug support
  • and, of course, the Eclipse framework itself allowing developers to make, well, whatever they want to sit on top of PDT

That’s where a lot of the real power of this project comes in – the extensibility. Other IDEs (with the exception of things like Komodo) don’t have much in the way of user-defined plugins, at least not to this level. The Eclipse platform was created to be as flexible as possible. As a result anything about the project can be changed, added, removed, duplicated…well, you get the idea.

According to their latest press release, the PDT project has already seen over 300,000 downloads – and that’s not counting what they’ll get when the announcement of this stable version hits the web.

Check it out and grab the download of this latest version. It might not be exactly what you’re looking for but that’s the beauty of it – you have the power to mold it into just the right tool for you.



  1. Excellent summary.

    I would also add that this is as much a win for the Eclipse organization as for the PHP community. Our survey data shows that Eclipse is still overwhelmingly identified with Java development from a language perspective. It’s certainly an excellent Java IDE, but to continue it’s successful evolution it needs to become a compelling IDE for other languages as well. If PHP developers fall in love with Eclipse and make it their own the same way Java developers have then then the foundation will have a proof-point that drives home what savvy developers already know. Eclipse is about more that Java.


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