Aptana Studio for Drupal development (Eclipse plugin)

Submitted by Janak on Mon, 06/15/2009 - 21:24

For around two and half years I have been using Zend Studio 5.5 for Drupal development at work and had come to love a lot of the features it offers BUT all this functionality came at a heafty price. So, my quest for a new IDE had begun and it has been a difficult  one at that, mainly due to my somewhat unrealistic wishlist. Mostly I work directly on the remote server and wanted a solution that allowed me to SFTP over SSH and edit away my live files. Yea, many people will advise against that, but for my personal websites this isnt such a big issue as I am the BOSS.. Also, some of the websites are quite huge and I do not want local copies on my MacBook, G4 Server and XP Machine, so I tend not to define a Project folder..

I mainly wanted an IDE that had (all things 'auto'):

  • CSS auto complete + syntax highlighting
  • JS debugging, auto complete + syntax highlighting
  • PHP auto complete + debugging + profiling + syntax highlighting
  • PHP templates (Drupal)
  • Customisable color schemes
  • SFTP support without defining a project first
  • SVN
  • Auto complete that was actually AUTO (doesnt require CTRL+SPACE invoke method)
  • Code formatting and auto indent
  • FREE

I didnt think it would be possible to get all these features, my quest was somewhat helped by a fantastic article by Smasing magazine: The Big PHP IDE Test: Why Use One And Which To Choose.

So, my shortlist was narrowed down to:

  • Aptana Community + Eclipse SDK
  • PDT All in One (Eclipse)
  • NetBeans

PDT All in One

I had a few glitches with PDT, perhaps due to my lack of experience with Eclipse, the biggest issue was that full PHP fuctionality such as:

  • Auto complete did not work on local variables in files outside of the Project folder (almost all my drupal websites).
  • Error highlighting didnt work on non project based files either

NetBeans

Did not use it enough, mostly opened and closed it promptly when it required CTRL+SPACE auto complete, will try it one day I hope..

Aptana (Andretti Alpha #3)

I liked this one from the minute I installed it, yes, it does install a lot of plugins that I did not need, specially the "Cloud" support, ah well, it was easy enough to customise the Perspective to get rid of some of the bloatware menus etc..

So, here is what worked:

  • Auto complete for almost all (CSS, JS, HTML, PHP)
  • Remote editing - none of the PDT issues highlighted above

Here is a method I used to get myself a nifty and easy install of Aptana for Drupal development

 

Step 1: Download and Install Eclipse SDK/Classic

http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/

 

Step 2: Install Aptana as Eclipse plugin (instructions from Aptana Website)

  • From the Help menu in Eclipse, select Software Updates ...
  • Select the Available Software tab
  • Click the 'Add Site...' button.
  • Specify the Location Url update site: http://update.aptana.com/install/studio and click OK
  • Select the checkbox next to the added update site.
  • Click the Install.. button.
  • Complete instruction to install from update site.
  • Install PHP plugin for Aptana.

 

Step 3: Installing the Eclipse RSE plug in

This is the same plugin that Zend Studio uses for managing and accessing remote files over ftp, sftp and ssh ;-)

  • From the Help menu in Eclipse, select Software Updates ...
  • Select the Available Software tab
  • Click the 'Add Site...' button.
  • Specify the Location Url update site: http://download.eclipse.org/dsdp/tm/updates/ and click OK
  • Select the checkbox next to the added update site.
  • Choose RSE core and the SSH options and click the Install.. button.
  • Complete instruction to install from update site.

 

Step 5: Configure Aptana for Drupal

Follow instructions from Drupal Handbook entry

http://drupal.org/node/75242

 

Step 6: Customise color Schemes (optional)

Customise Aptana and Eclipse to your heart's desires

http://forums.aptana.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1847