Nowadays I’m a WordPress developer. I spend my days writing PHP code for custom functionality provided to my customers as well as reading other plugins’ code to integrate with them and often modify their behaviour. Up until recently, I’ve been using Netbeans, which is a free IDE. I have found it to be okay for the most part.
Before WordPress, I was a C# developer. I have found Visual Studio to be the most comfortable and best thought out IDE I can imagine for multiple languages. By far! So all this time working in Netbeans, while it did the job, I continued missing my favourite IDE.
Why Visual Studio
Well towards the end of last year, I decided to give PHP Tools for Visual Studio a try and honestly I couldn’t be more pleased!! Three PHP specific things I’m most interested in all work well being debugging, IntelliSense and “Go to Definition” to jump to a function’s definition in another file/class, etc. All this is available within the comfort of the best IDE on the market (IMO).
I also do hybrid mobile app development, which I use Visual Studio for and the mobile apps have WordPress as their backend system. So now I get to do both the App and backend development in the same IDE.
I should mention that a lot of PHP developers recommend PHPStorm. I have not given it a try so can’t give an honest assessment. In my opinion, the benefits of using the same IDE for multiple types of development and the fact that I love Visual Studio as much as I do is enough for me not to bother. However, if you’re looking for a new IDE for WordPress/PHP, I recommend you have a look at both.
Also FYI, Visual Studio community edition is free, and PHP Tools for Visual Studio is cheaper than PHPStorm, not enough to make a difference though. I think you should go with the IDE in which you feel most productive.