I’ve been using PHPStorm from day one of their beta release, and very happy with it.
They enhanced Java based NetBeans in the beginning, but it’s completely boosted with a lot of features.
Biggest problem developing web projects using PHP is the lack of tools and big effort requirements for creating a stable integrated development environment. There are very good simple and clean editors but none of them is not farther than a code intellisense enabled editors. What I mean is there are debuggers, advanced editors, database management tools, but all of them has their own ways, not communicating and not integrated. And it varies on different operating systems.
When I first tested phpstorm in the beta times, they had this minimal advanced editor with some half working hard to configure add-ons like svn support, debugger integration etc but wasn’t easy to get it up running. But they improved the initial configuration steps much easier, they touched lots of add-ons to get them more integrated with less configuration and they started to support modern languages for different web technologies (html5, less, sass, haml). Here is a couple of features that I like and probably you’ll find them very usefull as well.
Debugging PHP runtime with xdebug, you can catch, stop and debug your PHP app while it’s running. Also, makes the error handling way easier.
Version control system integration allows you to integrate your svn, git projects, access versions and manage working copy.
Database connectors support all SQL engines that Java not just allows to browse, alter your database structure also there is a database console that you can use code IntelliSense when you develop your SQL. This is a common feature for most IDEs so far but PHPStorm also uses database connections for every project when you write/browse or debug your PHP code if it’s running a SQL. You can run or use code IntelliSense when you’re writing your SQL in your code.
Also, PHPStorm has other ton of features like automatic deployment, automatic upload over FTP/SFTP protocols, zen coding, code snippets etc…
They released 6 major versions in 3 years that was basically touched version of NetBeans in the beginning but now it gives totally enhanced and different coding experience. Unfortunately, you need to pay $100, the first time and it gives free updates in minor releases. But if you want to update in major releases you need to upgrade your license in 1 year periods for $50. But it’s nothing compared to what you get.
JetBrains also develops most of the features in PHPStorm for their common product base which you can have similar or same features in their other IDEs for Ruby and Python developers. If you develop Python or Ruby, you should check PyCharm and RubyMine out.
PHPStorm’s homepage: http://www.jetbrains.com/phpstorm/