Zend Studio Review

It has higher quality code, faster debugging, and higher quality projects


What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for Zend Studio is PHP web applications and services development, along with Mac OS X (latest version). Our environment consists of PHP 3 through PHP 7.

How has it helped my organization?

It is one of the few debuggers out there allowing you to step through code, either via command line invocation, via a web browser, or using a PHPUnit. Their debugging environment is fairly robust, although it often gets confused with identical files in different places. However, it has saved my bacon over and over again when finding edge or difficult to replicate issues. As well, it has saved me a lot of time in avoiding using echo/print/log statements to find issues.

What is most valuable?

It has the ability to jump to any file in your project with a few keystrokes, as well as the ability to command-click on any token in your code and have it jump to the token's definition. In addition, the code completion is invaluable, and so are the code templates. Most of these are part of Eclipse (which Zend Studio is based on) but the add-on PHP functionality is great. It is the main thing which sets it apart.

What needs improvement?

  • Stability is sometimes lacking in updates. 
  • Search/replace across multiple files is not ideal. 
  • The debugger often has problems determining where to map files to local projects, as well as setting breakpoints, which often are ignored depending on your configuration. 
  • The product requires a subscription to Zend Server Developer, which used to be free and now has an annual fee, but it is still worth the money.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Most recent set of patches (2018) on Mac OS X caused the app to crash when you would cut more than 10 lines of code. Apparently, this was due to a bug in Eclipse, but regardless, it took several months for Zend to post a patch.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No scalability issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

They have forums where you can find answers to most questions and also post issues. Zend staff patrol these forums and, in most cases, reply to issues relatively quickly. 

Which solutions did we use previously?

I tried NetBeans, which had similar features, but it was too variable. Also, the debugger did not work well.

How was the initial setup?

It was easy to install.

What was our ROI?

Generally, it has higher quality code, faster debugging, and higher quality projects.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is reasonable for this type of tool. Although, you can cobble together a solution which is zero cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated NetBeans, vanilla Xdebug, PHP Debug, Eclipse (PDT), and MacGDBp.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend it for individuals. However, when you add up costs for a larger team, it gets more expensive.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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