The IDE is a very important factor for me. It’s the main tool I’m using 8 hours a day, if you use a bad tool you are losing time and efficiency which translates into money for your employer. The best way to illustrate this is to make a tour of the ones I have used so far.

I started my scripting career with Dreamweaver. Sure Dreamweaver has code coloring, some code hinting and stuff but as a dedicated scripting ide it is not enough for me. At least not the MX version I used back then.

So when I turned pro I quickly started looking for something better and stumbled upon some Danish app. I can’t remember the name but it had class browsing and code folding which basically was what I was looking for at that time, and it was free.

After a while a German colleague introduced me to Zend Studio. What a change! To experience code jumping, code hinting/completion with your own classes and much more, it was simply awesome. I’m not kidding; I think I became 20% more effective just by switching to Zend Studio.

The next switch requires some background information. Over here we work in a kind of chaotic way. I soon realized I was doing about 30% markup, CSS and javascript and only 70% PHP even though on paper I was supposed to be doing 100% php. I started to become frustrated with having to have Zend Studio and Dreamweaver loaded at the same time, together they can use up a lot of memory, apart from the fact that it sucks to have to switch apps all the time, back and forth.

So I started looking for a replacement to the ZS and Dreamweaver combo that could do all these things in one package and I eventually ended up using eclipse with PDT and Aptana. PDT is a plugin for eclipse created by Zend that basically does the same things ZS does and with the Aptana plugin I was able to do css, markup and js all in the same app! Dreamweaver has the awesome design view but when you work with a lot of dynamic content that view is not really useful anymore and if Aptana and Dreamweaver are compared without it then Aptana simply rules for the way I work. You have js and css hinting with icons showing what works in different browsers and you have html auto completion just like in Dreamweaver.

A problem with eclipse however is that it sucks on Linux, the performance is ridiculous when running jre5, with jre6 it gets bearable and the app can easily use 200 megs on both Windows and Linux. It’s all worth it though, especially on Windows. The machine you are using makes a big difference too, at work I only have 512 megs of ram and a single core cpu, at home I have amd64 dual core with 1 gig of memory and eclipse feels like notepad in both Linux and Windows.

I also do some Ruby for auxiliary devrelated apps and scripts, until recently I used eclipse europa with DLTK Ruby but now I have switched to Netbeans 6.

For casual editing I use notepad2 which is a great little app, all relevant file types are set to open with that app so that I can just double click them.