I can’t call this a full fledged review because I don’t have anything set up to really review the new features. At first glance, the improvements seem small. They are not by any means.
CVS/Subversion has been integrated. If you happen to be working on a server with this set up (sourceforge uses this, all you open source people), you can check out your documents and files and do all of your editting straight through ZDE. This is as huge as the ftp support that I fell in love with originally.
FTP support has even been improved: sFTP is now supported. I really like this idea for people who work on things that matter. It’s nice to at least have support for it. I don’t work on those types of things, so it’s not something I can really test.
Code Folding is not as extensive as I hoped it would be. It does exactly what is on the list of new features: you can fold functions, classes, non-php sections and phpDoc sections. Well… that’s nice except we don’t always have the luxery of classes. On something like this, you still are reverting back to the indentation of the braces and putting your cursor at the end to find out how the brace started. It’s useful for just seeing the code (which is very nice when you have a bunch of non-php sections) but I would liked to have seen folding on the other braced sections also so entire if blocks or when loops could be folded but the rest stay visible.
The integrated browser is a massive time-saver for most people. I personally have 2 monitors set up that I use when developing. I use my main one for ZDE and set opera up with “Reload Every:” set so I don’t even have to hit refresh. When I’m doing something smaller or am not at a location where I have the luxery of two monitors, this is a great way to organize. Actually, it still has it’s advantages of trying to analize the web site through the browser also.
If you’re doing PHP development, it’s pretty likely that you are, at one time or another, working on a web site. If you’ve told zce to run your code, you get to look at the html output and try to figure out if everything is right from there. You no longer do. You can change the view of your debug output to show html now. Very nice.
The find file and find resource have limited uses because they restrict themselves to what is open. This is great when you have an entire project open at once, but I personally like to avoid that many open files if possible. You still cannot tell the included file list to open the included files also. That is a huge gripe of mine.
Generally, I cannot say there is any new feature for the casual developer that was added from 4 that I can’t live without. For larger projects, these additions would become very fantastic to have, especially in a corperate environment. You cannot deny that this is the best PHP development enviromnet to work it. It is very effective and incredibly nice to work with. It makes all of your work go faster and helps cut debugging times. I recommend ZCE to all PHP developers. It is worth every penny. You probably don’t need to buy a new liscense to go from 4 to 5 though because unless you work on large projects, the added features will not seem that great.
The changes from back in version 3 when I starte using ZCE to version 5 are all steps in the right direction. I just wish I had a large enough project that I could get the company to use Zend Environment on it. It would be so lovely.