CodeLobster PHP Edition Review
I couple of months ago I was asked to checkout an IDE for PHP development called CodeLobster. It looked very promising and came with a lot of features. I have been using the professional free to try version for some time now and I have to say that overall it’s pretty good.
CodeLobster currently has three versions
- The Free version that comes with (almost) everything that you would expect from an IDE
- The Lite version which costs $39.95
- The Professional version which is the Lite version plus all the available plugins.Normally the Lite version and all the plugins cost $369,5 but the Professional version costs $119,95. Of course if you are only interested in a couple of the plugins then the Professional version doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Just for reference the available plugins and their prices are:
What I liked about CodeLobster
I really liked the Codeigniter and jQuery plugins. These plugins add the function definitions to the IDE so the autocomplete works as you would expect. Plus the plugins know a little bit about the logic of these frameworks so when for example you type $this in a Codeigniter view, the IDE knows that you are referring to a Codeigniter instance.
There is a nice little feature that when you hover over a CSS property, the IDE displays a bubble with the browser compatibility. Not the most important feature out there but good to have. It also displays a preview of the color you are using in a property, which is something that some editors are missing
CodeLobster comes with a built in SQL manager which allows you to create and edit your database. I like having an integrated SQL editor in my IDE to make a couple of quick changes or make sure that a record was modified as I would expect, although truth be told if I have to do a lot of SQL work I would probably switch to HeidiSQL.
You can debug PHP scripts using CodeLobster PHP debugger. This feature is built in as well and requires minimum effort to setup.
With the FTP window you can edit files directly on the server and you can download/upload your project.
CodeLobster comes with a Firebug style inspector, which allows you to inspect an element and view the current CSS that is applied on it. Personally I would still use Chrome or Firefox but once again, it’s a nice feature to have
What I disliked about it
Free edition features
The free version of CodeLobster doesn’t have VCS integration, SASS/LESS support, automacitc code formatting and a couple of other features as well. Most free IDEs or text editors don’t have these features out of the box either, but they do have an avid community and a kick-ass plugin manager that allows you to install whatever functionality you wish. Since this in not the case here I really think that the free edition needs the things that I listed.
Although the autocomplete works pretty much as you would expect it to, sometimes the IDE provides you with the name of the function but not with the parameters or the return. This mostly happens with the various framework functions. For example if I type $this->email->cc the IDE does not tell me what I am supposed to pass as a parameter.
Overall I think that CodeLobster is a pretty decent IDE. I think people that can’t afford expensive software but still want to take advantage of a full featured integrated development environment should give it a try and see for themselves if it is a good fit.
You can download the latest version of CodeLobster at