This past year I’ve been swapping tools around for code editing, trying to make some productivity gains. After using four or five off and on, I finally picked up a program called phpStorm from Jetbrains when it sold for a really good discount for a holiday promotion. It’s a sharp web editor that not long ago just gained the new feature of live edit, aka live reload. With the meticulous work required in front end development, really the only way to do and stay sane and free of repetitive stress is to get that instant feedback as you code.
PhpStorm pairs its live edit plugin along side a Google chrome add-on. Setup is minimal and you just turn it on for the project you’re working. Then as you type, you see the changes update within a second or two on the browser window right there. I saw people using it on Mac and starting looking pretty hard for a way to make it work on my system. The path of least resistance was getting phpStorm. I’m certain I made up the price of the software in setup time saved.
At first I thought maybe it wouldn’t work with WordPress as it’s a collection of PHP files integrated into an entire system. But sure enough, editing one template file triggers the reload on my local xampp site instances The ideal way to work is to have a multiple monitor setup with the code on one side and the browser on the other.
A couple other features I like in phpStorm:
- little color swatches show up next to line numbers for css colors you’ve declared.
- error handling / mistypes are easy to find. If you have a bug somewhere, start clicking on the yellow or red indicators near the scrollbar.
- project syncing with a built-in ftp setup, pull everything down, keep it synced.
- tabbed interface (although this is really common these days and a requirement)
So the phpStorm experience I’ve had is positive. While I thought a few of the defaults were a bit stupid and the menus are so full of options, it’s like looking at the cockpit of a jet. (maybe that’s why they’re called Jetbrains? But the experience is just fine.