Every programmer knows it, every programmer loves it: the Eclipse IDE. It is probably the most extensive free open-source development environment out there (Netbeans put aside). In this tutorial I’d like to show you how you can get it ready for symfony, the (in my opinion) best PHP framework there is at the moment.

  1. Download and install the Eclipse-based PDT (PHP Development Tools) standalone version: http://www.eclipse.org/pdt/

  2. Now we’re going to install some plugins that are going to make your life easier when you are a symfony developer. Click Help -> Install New Software … and add the following plugins to Eclipse:

  • Aptana Studio Update Site – http://update.aptana.com/update/studio/ -> Aptana Studio (only if you want to use the built-in FTP functionality, otherwise you don’t need to bother about this one)
  • YEdit – http://dadacoalition.org/yedit -> YEdit (a YAML syntax highlighter, since most of symfony’s configuration is being done through .yml files
  1. After restarting Eclipse, we are going to add some symfony-specific auto-completion features to Eclipse. At this point, you will probably have the symfony framework installed somewhere on your PC. If you have not done so, download it from here or here and unpack it to a directory that you can easily remember.
    Now change back to Eclipse. Open Window -> Preferences -> PHP -> PHP Libraries -> New, enter “symfony” as a name and tick the Add to environment option. After clicking OK, you will notice the entry we just added in your libraries list. Mark the new entry by clicking on it, the click Add external folder…, browse to the folder where you put the symfony framework and add it.
    Now you can add the symfony library every time you create a new PHP Project in Eclipse or by right-clicking on an existing project ->Include Path -> Configure include path. Either way, you need to click on Add Library -> User Library -> symfony and add it.

  2. If you have installed the Aptana plugin before, you might want to activate the built-in shortcut for uploading the current file you are working on. Since that shortcut (Ctrl + Shift + U) is already reserved by Eclipse itself (and the Aptana team probably did not think of that when writing their framework), you need to do the following steps: Window -> Preferences -> General -> Keys, then do a search for “Show Occurrences in File Quick Menu” (filter) and unbind these shortcuts from this rather useless command (Click -> Unbind Command).
    You need to modify the Sync Manager (that is needed for uploading). Click Window -> Show View -> Other -> Aptana Standard Views -> Sync Manager. The configuration window will pop up at the bottom of Eclipse. Configuration is pretty much self-explanatory. Just make sure you have the FTP data for you symfony-enabled web server at hand.

Now you can start developing beautiful symfony applications with Eclipse! There are dozens of (video) tutorials about how to effectively use Eclipse out there, so you might want to have a look at these if you’ve never used Eclipse before (I absolutely recommend that, it will save you loads of time). To start a new project, select File -> New -> PHP Project, enter the necessary data and don’t forget to include the symfony library.

If you’re running you own server on localhost (a future tutorial will cover how to set one up with symfony enabled), another feature will come in quite handy as well: right-clicking on the project in your PHP Explorer and selecting Command Line Shell will start a shell with the project’s root folder. From there, you can start to use your symfony commands as usual.

Have fun developing symfony applications even quicker and easier!