Feeling stuck? Can't seem to put a finger on at least a few clear differences between PHPStorm and WebStorm? And you need to choose the most suitable IDE software for web development?

There sure must be some strong differences, other than:

PHPStorm doesn't provide JavaScript-oriented plugin support right out-of-the-box like WebStorm does.

Now, before we go “hunting” some key differences between PHPStorm and WebStorm, I'd like to add one last recommendation to consider when you select the right IDE for you:

It all comes down to evaluating various solutions and identifying not THE BEST, but the application that's perfectly suited to your specific needs.

That being said, without further ado, let's evaluate the “candidates”!

I'll be highlighting their key features (all while outlining the key differences between them) while you set them against your business requirements and specific feature needs, OK?
 

First of all: A Few Words About PHPStorm and WebStorm

Both IDE software products (Integrated Development Environment) are built on top of JetBrains IntelliJ platform. And geared at web development.

This has to be the most concise, yet comprehensive shared definition of our two “candidates” here. Let's move on to putting the spotlight on each of them, in turn...
 

PHPStorm: Key Features 

If I am to turn a text definition into a mathematical formula, it would have to be something like this:

WebStorm + Database support + WebStorm = PhpStorm

Or, if I am to stick to a “conventional”, a standard text definition, it would go something like this:

PHPStorm incorporates all the functionality that WebStorm comes equipped with (CSS, JavaScript HTML), PLUS full-fledged PHP support (and databases support).

Also, sticking to the very purpose of this blog post — pointing out the key differences between PHPStorm and WebStorm — I should add that PHPStorm doesn't support JS like WebStorm does.

It doesn't provide built-in support for JavaScript plugins like its “competitor” does.

Now when it comes to its main functionalities:
 

  • start PHP code editor
  • HTML & CSS editor
  • Code navigation
  • JavaScript editor
  • Code quality analysis
  • Database & SQL
  • Debugging
  • Smart PHP code editor
  • Testing
  • Intelligent coding assistance
     

As for the integrations that PHPStorm supports, here are the most notable ones:
 

  • some of the most popular PHP test frameworks: Behat, Codeception, PHPUnit, PHPSpec
  • Composer Dependency Manager; this way you get to manage your project's dependencies right from the IDE
  • the webpack module bundler
  • React; it's perfectly equipped to assist you in linting, debugging, editing, running and configuring your apps
  • various compilers: Less, CSS, Sass, SCSS
  • Angular (Angular 2); it streamlines the process of building your desktop, web or mobile applications
     

WebStorm: Top Features 

As already mentioned here: WebStorm “spoils” you, right out of the box, with support for JavaScript-oriented plugins. 

Whereas, if you opt for PHPStorm, you'll need to install the needed JS plugins manually for achieving specific functionality.

And now, returning to its top features, here are just a few:
 

  • Extensive Navigation & Search capabilities
  • Support for React Native, PhoneGap, Cordova, Ionic and Node.js.
  • Unified UI for working with many popular Version Control Systems 
  • Coding assistance for JavaScript and compiled-to-JavaScript languages, HTML, Node.js and CSS
  • Built-in debugger
  • Code quality tools
  • Built on top of the open-source IntelliJ Platform
  • Advanced coding assistance for Vue.js, React, Angular and Meteor
  • Spy-js tool for tracking JavaScript code
  • Simple unified UI for running Gulp, Grunt or npm tasks right from the IDE
     

… and the list of key features and tempting functionalities goes on.

Now another one of its main strengths, besides its built-in JavaScript-centered functionality, is given by all the integrations that it supports:
 

  • Spring
  • AcquiaMicrosoft
  • Google
  • Acquia
     

… a “detail” you sure don't want to underrate if you just consider the time and effort you'd be saving when working with an IDE that supports multiple integrations.

It will streamline the transfer of information between teams and services and cut down the valuable time otherwise invested in migrating from one software to another.
 

Choose WebStorm If...

... you're a front-end, JavaScript developer or, better said:

A “hardcore” one, depending on robust HTML, JavaScript and CSS-oriented features, such as JSUnit or Node.JS.
 

Go With PHPStorm If...

... you're having trouble choosing between PHPStorm and WebStorm, the most obvious proof that the first IDE (PHPStorm) is the one for you is the following:

You're a full stack back-end developer 

And so, your work depends greatly on specific features, such as refactoring PHP code and built-in debuggers.
 

Final Word: Differences Between PHPStorm and WebStorm

It goes without saying that there's no such thing as IDE software ideally equipped to meet ALL your requirements.

Basically, when deciding between PHPStorm and WebStorm:
 

  1. defining your specific needs (JavaScript-oriented or PHP-centered) is the very first thing to do
  2. going for the IDE that integrates well with other programs is something that you'll need to consider, given the benefits that derive from there
     

So, have you got your answer yet? Judging from these key differences between PHPStorm and WebStorm, which one caters to your specific requirements?

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