Zend Studio 6.1 for Eclipse Building Workspace...

I've recently started using Zend Studio 6.1 for Eclipse to try out the Zend Framework and play with some Dojo/YUI PHP integration. Creating a Zend Framework project and slapping together a few controllers and views worked well enough, but when I dumped in the Dojo library, things started going south...

Namely, the IDE will often go into a 'building workspace...' state that seems to last forever. The process is a background thread that seems to be performing PHP/JS code validation, which is all well and good, but you can't save your work or do much of anything else during this time. Any other IDE action you perform usually gets queued behing the building workspace task, meaning you either have to wait for 10 minutes or more for the task to complete (I kid you not), or copy-paste the code in a notepad window and do a forced-kill on Zend studio (cancelling the task doesn't work).

Now I know I may have been partially at fault for dumping both the Dojo and Zend framework classes within my working project (did this as the simplest way to point an Apache server to my project files and have everything working). Zend Studio does have warnings against doing this for performance reasons, and I guess the warnings are there for a reason. A better way of doing things is to have your libraries contained in different projects and add these projects as references to your main working project.

Another way to regain some control of Zend Studio if you run into the 'Building workspace...' hang is to disable the code validators in the project properties builders section, but doing so you'll loose the syntax checking and possibly custom code auto-completion.

I don't think Zend is to blame for this problem, I believe it is more of an underlying issue with the Eclipse framework, or some generic plugins used. I have also experienced this very same issue with Adobe Flex Builder 3.1, also Eclipse based. The problem there was when you had too many imported Web Service classes, or any large library classes in the same project. The solution was again to split your work up into separate projects or disable some of the builders.

Another problem with Zend Studio 6.1 is that at times the editor can't keep up with your typing. That is, you type a word or function name and have to literally wait and count the letters as they appear on the screen for a few long seconds. Again, I've seen this in Flex Builder, I've seen it in Aptana (Eclipse-based as well), and recently seen it in Talend Open Studio (also Eclipse).

I realise Eclipse is a very powerful platform which is so well established by now that it's probably pretty easy to create your own IDE or any pane-based application really. I just wander if this is a good thing or not. It feels like there's a lot of baggage that comes along with the platform and perhaps some of the standard plugins (or chain of plugins) adapted for different tasks may not always be optimized.

Needless to say I'm now looking for an alternative PHP IDE to do my development in. The challenge is finding something decent that doesn't run in Eclipse. I'll be trying out Netbeans, Komodo and CodeLobster for starters.

Update: I've tried out both Komodo and CodeLobster (very briefly I must say) but have settled on Netbeans as my PHP editor of choice. It provides all the features of Zend Studio that I needed, without any of the bugs or lag. Both auto-complete and syntax checking are as snappy as they should be.


  1. Hi there, just want to drop by and say hi, I saw your post on Whirlpool. I'm a big fan of Eclipse, been using it for years for non-PHP work. I've just picked up PHP and I'm curious to try out all the stuff you mentioned here.

    I know what you're talking about the building workspace thing, I didn't use Zend Studio, I just used plain PHP plugin on top of eclipse, seems to work great for me.

    Btw, do you know of a way to debug a PHP apps ? (line by line, with breakpoints).

  2. Hi, can't say I've worked with the debugger in Zend Studio for Eclipse (didn't get that far before switching over to NetBeans). A quick Google shows a few pages describing the process, have a look here and here for starters. Not sure how similar this will be to using debugging in the normal (non-Zend) Eclipse PHP plugin. The NetBeans PHP debugger is described here.


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