Top 3 IDEs to use with CakePHP

IDEs can bring out the intellectual zealot in even the most mild mannered programmers. I choose these 3 IDEs based on their wide use, feature set, and, most importantly, their ability to aid you in your CakePHP app.


PHPStorm by JetBrains is an IDE built specifically for PHP. It has live web page editing meaning you can edit your HTML, CSS, or Javascript and see the results without refreshing the browser! I find this especially useful when I’m tasked with doing a full redesign of a company’s outdated web system. Don’t ask.

It comes with a built in visual merge tool that will help rid your unmerged files of those pesky arrows. You can also work with the database without having to change windows to your command line!

Among many other native features PHPStorm lets you test RESTful web services, integrate with Docker, or Vagrant, generate UML , and edit it, support frontend Javascript frameworks, debug your PHP code inline, alter variables, or design functions on the fly during debug mode, and refactoring of variables, classes, properties, methods, parameters, and files! As you can see this thing does it all. Unfortunately all this power comes at a cost. That cost is $89/year, or $8.90/month for individuals, and $199/year, or $19.90/month per user for Organizations. If you are a hardcore CakePHP fan, or just a PHP fan in general then you can’t find a more powerful IDE than PHPStorm

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is an open source IDE that can run almost anything! VS Code has over 20,000 extensions, IntelliSense, and built-in debugger. IntelliSense is VS Code’s take on code completion. It allows you to perform smart code completion based on variable types, function definitions, and imported modules.

VS Code’s real power comes from its extensive library of user maintained extensions. For CakePHP in particular there are a few snippet extensions that can help speed up development. There are also extensions for other layers of the development process like Containerization, CI/CD, and version control systems!

If you had to choose one open source IDE I would seriously consider Visual Studio Code. It’s widely used, has excellent documentation, and most of all gets out of your way and lets you do your job.


Apache NetBeans is another open source IDE that still manages to pack a punch. Unlike PHPStorm it isn’t solely built for PHP, it also supports Java, and C/C++, so some of the finer features you might find from JetBrains won’t be here, but you can still build enterprise grade software.

Currently NetBeans offers a plugin, maintained by junichi11 on GitHub, that supports up to CakePHP 3.x. The real power of NetBeans, as with any IDE, is to make an individual programmer more productive by checking their code in real-time for errors, or sloppy syntax.

What do you think of my favorite CakePHP IDE’s? Did I miss your favorite, or miss an important feature? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll respond ASAP!

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