I was recently asked by the guys at CodeLobster if I wouldn't mind checking out their software and writing a quick review of it.
I am always more than happy to review any software or hardware, and there is nothing I like more than a nice IDE, so I jumped at the chance and for the last week, have been doing 80% of my 9-5 coding using CodeLobster
What is CodeLobster
CodeLobster is a Windows based PHP IDE, its core aim seems to be to allow you to create websites and web applications with the least amount of resistance possible. It has built in support for things like WordPress and CakePHP, which I have to say is pretty awesome.
I am not going to list out all the features present in the app, just draw attention to some of the things I like and don't like about it, for a full rundown you can always visit the website.
What I liked about it
I really liked how out of the box it came with a lot of stuff, there was the integration with various libraries and frameworks, there was version control, there was build and debug tools - there was a lot, and of course it had your standard slew of features like syntax hilighting and auto-complete.
The first thing you will probably say is that your IDE of choice has all those things, and it probably does (pretty much all the ones I have used recently do) but they have had to be installed after the fact as plugins, never really a huge task but with CodeLobster you don't have to.
There is a really nice feature that if you hover over a CSS property, you immediately get shown which browsers support that property, naturally this doesn't replace testing but it does mean you can catch stuff as you write it instead of after it has been compiled, uploaded and ran.
Speaking of CSS, it also gives you a preview of the colour you are using in a property, which is something I have found plenty of editors and IDEs to be lacking.
Everything seemed really customisable, which is something more and more programs are latching onto these days, you really do get the sense this was written with web developers in mind.
The level of support I received early on was excellent too, I know they had a vested interest in keeping me happy because I was going to write a review but I did have some questions that were quickly and fully answered.
What I disliked about it
It felt a little unfinished in places, there are a couple of spelling mistakes and a couple of images have been used without due care and attention. I think perhaps it has been built by programmers for programmers, which is a good thing but maybe needs a designer to take a quick look at it and give them some notes.
It ran on Windows, not a crime in and of itself but because I run a Mac setup at home I could only really test it in work - I should say it handled our projects without a hitch and helped me out a lot.
I had to register to get a free account, this is probably to stop piracy or something but when I download something I want to install it and run it immediately - not have to fill in forms and copy keys from emails into stuff.
I guess my thoughts on this are that it is a really good attempt at a PHP IDE, it ticks all the boxes I would need a development environment to tick and I would have no qualms with recommending others try out the software.
I probably won't continue to use it much to be honest because I have found my current setup to be far more streamlined for my needs and is cross system compatible so I can run it on both of my Macs and my work PC.