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Zend Studio 3.0 - Page 4

by: Piers Karsenbarg
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November 4, 2003

Debugging and Testing

This has to be the most useful tool that ZDE provides: the ability to run your code and view the output through a browser. It is an incredibly simple task to perform. All you need do is click one button and ZDE will run the entire script, alerting you to any errors and then outputting the results to the output window, which can then be made to run the resulting HTML in a browser.
As well as running the entire script through from start to finish, you can also set breakpoints, which are points in the script where you want the debugger to stop and wait for you to continue. This makes debugging much simpler since it allows you to watch the variables as they change and see the HTML output develop.
When debugging, you can either perform it on the PC you use to write the code (using the copy of PHP and Apache that Studio will install for you) or you can configure it to use a different computer altogether (as long as that computer has Zend Server installed on it).

Further Features

Smart bracket matching: This may sound silly, but how many times have you searched long and hard for the cause of that error and it turns out that you forgot to close a bracket?
Automatic indenting: Makes your code easier to read and therefore debug. One of my favourite features.

Summary

If you like WYSIWYG IDEs such as Dreamweaver, then Zend Studio is not for you. Also, the system requirements of ZDE recommends at least 192MB of RAM (although most new computers come with that and more anyway). I found it a little memory-hungry and it sometimes took a little time to load up, so it's not ideal when you want to "quickly fix that one line".
Apart from that, I like that it didn't "bloat" my code like DW has a habit of doing and I loved the code completion, especially when using my own functions.
There are two versions of the Studio: you can either buy the full version for $195 or you can download the personal edition, which means that you have full functionality for 21 days and then you lose some of the advanced functions such as the cvs, ftp and remote debugging.
I have now stopped using Dreamweaver when coding in PHP. The functions that is provides may be all very well if you are relatviely new to PHP, but it doesn't come close to the functionality of Zend Studio.

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