If you are looking to become a better developer its not just getting better at PHP development itself that you need to concentrate on. Certainly you need to study, learn and develop your actual development skills, but you also need to look at the ways that you carry out projects and fulfill client needs and objectives. Luckily, PHP is such a prominent web technology that a multitude of tools have been created to give further help and assistance to developers and make them become better at what they do. These tools should never be substituted for real PHP development UK practice, but they can have a really positive impact on development projects and make you a better developer in return.

A Framework

A framework is what we consider to be the most useful PHP development tool, no serious developer should be without one! There are actually two different types of frameworks that are largely available to use in PHP development. The first type of framework that can make PHP development UK easier to manage is a Content Management System framework. Although in previous years CMS only really had a single purpose, today’s systems can actually be considered frameworks due to their versatility and the ability to improve their functions with add ons and extensions. Although you will have to learn how to utilize them (although for an experienced developer this wont be a problem since many CMS systems operate in the same way) if you are creating similar projects for clients, such as websites and web applications, these systems can be more than beneficial.

The second type of framework available to improve PHP development is a generic development and programming framework, such as CakePHP or ZendFramework. There are actually various different types of frameworks available, and the best developers tend to specialize in no more than three of four of them in order to effectively manage and carry out their projects. Like other tools, generic programming frameworks can have their inherent weaknesses, but provided they are understood and used effectively they can get projects up and running very quickly.

Testing and Debugging Tools

The testing and debugging processes that follow in the event of problems during a development project are just as important, if not more important, than the actual building processes and like the other processes they too can be improved and simplified with well chosen tools. Any developer using PHP should be more than familiar with the concept of Unit Testing and Test Driven Development (so let’s not waste space talking about them here!) and there are two tools designed to improve this that developers can use – PHPUnit or SimpleTest.

Debuggers can easily be considered as the most useful tool a developer can have, and no development server should be without one. The best debugging tools, such as dbg, xdebug and Zend Debug, give developers the functions that they need to break down their code quickly and easily and find problems at any point during a development process.

Database and Code Management Tools

Any developer considering more advanced PHP development UK work needs to get hold of database and coding tools such as an ERD (Entity Relationship Diagram) tool and Version Control System, particularly if working with larger databases. Databases by their very nature will expand and grow too large to be managed without a tool like an ERD (MySQL’s Workbench is a great one to try). ERDs can help developers visualize and structure their databases, and they help keep these complex development projects straight and organized.

Version Control Systems, such as CVS, SVN or Git, will also help developers protect their projects by securing their code. Keeping code in a VCS at any point in a project will ensure that developers are saved from the effects of crashing hard drives and any unnecessary errors, and due to the variety available they can suit development teams of all sizes.

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