Optimized PHP Development Environment for beginners

PHP has been an easy to learn web programming language for all. When it comes to web PHP holds 82% market share! PHP has lesser learning curve compared to other web technologies.

PHP was basically introduced to create data driven dynamic web pages. And PHP has passed through many major iterations. PHP 7.0 is the latest release.

If you are just starting up you should care much about the version just now. All you need to do is use the latest version of PHP and you are all set for development.

Here are some of the tips I have for novice PHP programmers or for the programmers who are just starting up with PHP.

Create local server:

As we all know PHP is a server-side scripting language. You may need to install a web server that communicates with PHP and return results.

Apache is a standard choice for a web server. It’s free and opensource. A combination of Apache and PHP is very popular amongst developers and hosting providers.

If you prefer you may go with the Nginx web server. It’s another popular web server that works well with PHP.

PHP 5.6 onwards version ships with build in web servers. They are meant for development and testing purpose only. But I would prefer you stick with Apache and PHP combo.

And the last thing you need with local server is the MySQL server. You can install all the components individually which is a power user setup.

If you don’t want to be in all these mess you may opt for the XAMPP or WAMP setup. Install the application and you are up for the development.

If you really want to create a hosting like environment you better try your hand with installing and configuring each element individually.

Choose IDE or Editor:

We have the web server ready, next we need is an editor where you can write your PHP code.

You have two options. You can go for some smart code editors like sublime and notepad++ they are best at their job. They offer the syntax highlighting, code completion, plugins or addons, and they are free of cost.

Many developers prefer sublime editor as it’s available across all the platforms. You can use it on PC, MAC and Linux. The packages and small footprint make it stand out from the crowd.

Notepad++ is a free editor but available for PC only. It’s 100% free where as sublime text offers unlimited period demo.

If you want more features you should go for an IDE. An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software would make your programming job very easy.

It offers all the features you get with code editors additionally it offers FTP connection support, code debugging, remote debugging, testing, profiling, database connectivity, in application database execution, and easy to use version control interface.

If you want to opt for a free IDE on PHP my suggestion would be to go with Netbeans IDE for PHP. If you are good with paid tools then PHPStrom is the best choice you could make right now.


Errors are bound to happen in programming. You are not the exception. It’s common to make mistakes but finding it on the large project is a challenging task.

You need to debug your code to identify and fix the bug. PHP don’t have the native debugging facility. You need to setup XDebug for debugging.

Installation is pretty easy and guided as well. Follow the official xdebug installation guide. If things don’t workout well, you may consider following customized xdebug installation guide.

If you are using netbeans or any other debugging supported IDE or editor you may need to place the breakpoint and hit the debug file/project option. You debugging should start.

Finally, as you are reading this PHP development environment article, you may work with some sort of website or web application, consider reading our why does your website need to be responsive article. Responsive design is the new design standard.


Learning and developing web application using PHP is a fun experience. You learn a lot and a lot from your mistakes initially. Once you feel comfortable with basics start learning some MVC framework like Codeigniter.

About the Author:

Darshan is the founder of AlphansoTech a WordPress Development Company. You may find him writing a detailed web technology related articles. Codeigniter 4 and WordPress are his latest interest. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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