If (unlike me) you are the type of person who treats manuals with contempt
and dives straight into games or software without so much as an acknowledgement
of documentation, then just for once try to break out of this habit and get
to know the Information Centre that comes with Studio. It contains information
about all sections of the Studio, with an overview, details of useful techniques
for use within the IDE as well as the Server Centre (which I'll come onto in
a bit). Ok, so it's a glorified .chm (or man if you're more used to *nix systems),
but an incredibly useful one at that.
Zend Server Centre
Ever wondered what all those settings in your php.ini file meant? Well take
a look at the Zend Server Center and you'll see exactly what they are. Not only
does this package explain what each little line does, it also allows you to
configure your PHP settings online, which means no more messing around with
notepad (or your local equivalent).
Zend Development Environment (ZDE)
The first thing that I thought of when I opened ZDE for the first time is that
it's a lot like Visual C++ from a little-known software company from Seattle.
If you've ever used C++, then you'll be prefectly at home with the layout and
probably the package in general. It's not as daunting as it looks.
One of the most useful tasks that any development software can perform (although
for some reason, some don't) is the organisation of files into projects, and
ZDE does it very nicely indeed. It's very easy to create projects and even easier
to add files to them. One of the best features that I discovered was that you
can add directories on FTP servers to projects and open and save the files as
if they were on a local drive. Incredibly useful when you aren't on the same
network and can't use Samba or Windows networking to map a drive from your server.
When adding files to the project, whether from a local drive or an FTP server,
ZDE searches the added files for required tags in the lines of code. If one
is found, a box is displayed with details of the line number and file path and
name of the file doing the calling as well as the include statement of the file
being called. To add the include file to the current project is as easy as double
clicking on the right line. Could it be any simpler?
Whilst on the subject of file management, Studio has built in cvs (if you don't
know what that is, think open source version of SourceSafe (again by that small
software company in Seattle)). With this, you can perform all the commands that
you would probably want (well, maybe). Very useful when developing SourceForge
projects (the only major use of cvs that I could think of).