I really have gone through a lot of trouble to try to find a good PHP editor. The sticking point seems to be tag completion. Not too many of them have that. You can get a lot of great features on a lot of the free editors, but to get tag completion, you need to have either a paid one or an editor which is so complex you have to have an engineering degree from MIT to set the darned thing up. Here is how they stacked up:
1) Notepad++-Of all the free editors, this one was the best. Though it lacks a plug in for tag completion; it was small, intuitive, fast, customizable, attractive and just about everything you might want. The only other thing it is lacking is robust support, there doesn’t seem to be a community which will answer your questions. It may be out there but I have not found it yet.
2) Bluefish-Good, fast, but no code tag completion. Lots of videos for setting up and such and it is very popular. The interface is just as familiar as Notepad++. Well worth investigating.
3) Netbeans- After downloading this one you had better be fluent in Java because you will need it. I am sure it is very good once you get it installed and running, there is a big active community with this one and lots of resources for helping you install it and make it work BUT you will need all of those resources because it’s bloody hard to get it all straight and running the way you like, then there is a learning curve once it’s up and running. It’s free and if you like to tinker, it (I am sure) is a winner. I think it even has the tag completion feature BUT it demands considerable investment in time from you.
4) Komodo Edit-A big and popular editor with lots of features and customizations possible. It has a paid version, too, which probably gives you moar. Alas, I just felt like this one wasn’t as intuitive as I had hoped. Again, it was pretty demanding.
5) HTML Kit and HTML Kit Tools-The former is free, the latter is the pay for version. I have used HTML Kit for about a year and I think it is great. Very customizable, very intuitive, powerful. Makes coding a breeze. However, I was tempted by the Tools versions and I bought it. Now Tools is one of the few editors which does have the tag completion feature I was wanting but please know there is a good learning curve and confusion factor built into Tools. The creator is a very responsive guy, though, so you are not ignored or sneered at if you go into the support area and ask how to do something. Chami will answer your question in 24 hrs and is very kindly about it. Tools will do just about all things you would want, and then some. Just be patient, be ready to learn, and be ready to pay $50 which is a pittance compared to Dreamweaver at approx $400. Tools will handle XHTML, CSS, and PHP and goodness knows what else. There are lots of free plug-ins to download so you can customize it. I would say it’s well worth it if you are serious about coding and want to take some of the drudgery out of it.
There was one more that was recommended to me by a friend on line and that was phpDesigner 8. I am going to try it out for free and see whether it is the Holy Grail of code editors. It does XHTML, CSS and PHP so….onward, nerds!