Ok, so, if you know me, or have seen me give a presentation, etc. You probably know that I use Dreamweaver as my PHP Editor (Macromedia, Adobe, whatever).
However, I keep thinking about switching to another editor instead. There are a number of good editors out there in general (and for PHP specifically), but none of them seem to fit my needs as nicely as Dreamweaver.
Specifically, I’ve been using Dreamweaver for a LONG time, since version 1.0, back when ‘HTML was a programming language, and programmers wrote it’. The job I worked at decided to start using it, because it allowed you to quickly do some HTML layout, without messing with any inline code you had done. That was great.
Well, 8 versions of DW later, and I’m still using it. Even though 99% of the time I’m not in design view because of writing neck-deep PHP code for digg.com where not a single thing is really ‘design view’-able.
However, everytime I try to switch editors, I run into missing features that I rely on. So I’m going to try to list all the features that I use everyday, and see if anyone can recommend another editor that has them all:
- Color highlighted code – Ok, so every editor will have this.
- Code Hints – Specifically popping up the parameter list for you. This should work on PHP functions, on JS functions, CSS code, as well as HTML tags.
- Ability to organize by ‘sites’ – In DW you organize your projects by ‘websites’ (basically local directories), you choose the site you want to work on, and then start editing away. This basic concept sits well with my mind. I’m not a big fan of the ‘project-based’ concept that many IDEs use.
- FTP support with Synchronize – I work with all my files local, but a remote testing server. I need the ability to edit the local files, then quickly FTP them up to the server with a keypress. Preferrably with a ‘Synchronize’ function as well that will only push the files that have changed.
- EASY indenting/anti-denting of blocks of code – DW allows you to highlight a section of code and tab or shift-tab to change the indentation.
- Tabbed Editing windows – I would allow for something ‘like tabs’ as well.
- Global Search/Replace – Specifically, the ability to do a search, in choice of ‘entire website’, ‘open files’, ‘selected files’, and either to do a replace, or to get a list of all matches, and allow a click on the match to automatically open the file, highlighting the area for quick editing.
- Bracket Highlighting – Ability to chose a }, ), ] and hit a key, and get the entire section of code from open to end highlighted.
- Nice to Haves:
- File list/Explorer View – It’s very handy to me when working on a large project to have an explorer built in to quickly select another file. I can use the OS’s version though, so not required.
- Design View – Still having some level of design view available, when just needing to throw something really simple together, such as a mockup, is really handy.
- CSS Inspector – It’s also handy to be able to select a tag on a page, and have DW tell you what CSS attributes are applying to it, for what reasons, from what selectors.
- Quick Preview – Hit a button, launch the current code into an Firefox Window.
- Code Collapsing – Select a function, for loop, or just certain lines of code, and make them collapse down, to allow you to see the structure of the page better on long pages of code.
Ok, I realize that’s alot. And I probably missed a few things. But I think you can see that there are just lots of parts of Dreamweaver I really use, ALOT. I would like to switch to something Open Source, or cheaper, or even just with the extra features that some of the PHP specific editors have.
But the lack of some of the key features above, keeps making me go back to Dreamweaver.
So, anyone have any suggestions for me?