Product Review: Zend Studio 4 - New to Version 4
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An excellent addition that is new to version 4 is the extensive code library that features many, many code snippets to help even inexperienced programmers achieve what they want quickly. It is organized in an intelligent, intuitive manner and breaks down the code chunks into easily navigated, purpose specific subcategories. Every single one of the snippets of code is fully documented with comments detailing what the code samples do, and you can quickly and easily add your own custom snippets to this already bulging library.
A big part of Zend Studio is the debugger. You can debug locally on your machine, or remotely on files sitting on the content or development servers. The debugger runs any active code in the main editor, outputs any warning/error messages, and shows you what code will be outputted to the browser when the page is requested in real time. The output window shows the code returned to the browser by default, but you can preview the results in a browser with a simple right-click in the output pane itself. In addition to the main program, the debugger is also installed as a browser helper object in the tool bar of your browser, allowing you to access the debugger from within a Web page. You can do several things from here, including debug the current page, the next page, all pages, or all forms using the POST method.
The profiler, also accessible from within the browser toolbar, analyzes your applications for bottlenecks by looking at things such as function calls and execution times, and provides detailed statistical display and reporting on these factors. To use the profiler, the Zend debugger must be installed on the same server that the URL you are analyzing resides on.
A useful collaboration and documentation feature of the professional version is the new PHPDocumentor, an integrated PHP documenting tool written itself in PHP. When writing statements, classes, class variables and constants, the PHPDoc comment block is automatically added and you’re prompted to write a description of the code you’re writing. The application also has CVS (concurrent versions system) integration, allowing you and your team to stay up to date with the latest source codes each time you work.
Perhaps the most well received new feature, which is only available in the full, professional version, is the database connectivity tools. These allow you to connect directly to any of the most popular databases from within the program and perform queries, view data and metadata, and edit data in real time -- a powerful addition indeed. You can connect to several databases simultaneously, and the program presents the connected database in an Explorer style tree view.
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