40+ tools for writing better PHP

PHP is a server-side scripting language designed for web development, but also used as a general-purpose programming language. With over 240 million indexed domains using PHP, including major websites like Facebook, Digg and WordPress, there are good reasons why many web developers prefer it to other server-side scripting languages, such as Python and Ruby.

There are scads of PHP tools available over the internet for php developers, but finding an appropriate PHP tool is quite an arduous task and demands effort and time. Today we’ve collected 45 handy PHP development tools for developers…


Plates is a simple and easy to use PHP templates system. Plates is designed for web developers who prefer to use native PHP templates over compiled templates.


The Laravel framework is open-sourced software with expressive, elegant syntax.


A Parsedown wrapper for Laravel to compile markdown to HTML. Parsedown is fast and supports GitHub flavored markdown.


Guzzle is a PHP HTTP client that makes it easy to work with HTTP/1.1 and takes the pain out of consuming web services.


Hoa is a set of PHP libraries that help to create a bridge between industrial and research worlds.


The PHP-CPP library is a C++ library for developing PHP extensions. It offers a collection of well documented and easy-to-use classes that can be used and extended to build native extensions for PHP.


Twig is a fast, secure and flexible templates engine for PHP users.

Requests for PHP

Requests is a HTTP library written in PHP.

The Prettifier

Prettifier provides a great place for editing, formatting and syntax highlighting for some programming languages including CSS, HTML, XML, SQL, PHP, Perl and others.

Geocoder PHP

Geocoder is a great library for building geo applications. It provides an abstraction layer for geocoding manipulations.

Slim Starter

Slim starter by Xsanisty is another excellent solution for bootstrapping advanced web applications.


Mink is a PHP Library which lets you test that your web apps interacts with the browser properly. It removes the API differences between the two types of browser emulators, giving you a more accurate testing environment.


Forp is a PHP profiler written in C. Forp is a lightweight PHP extension which provides the full call stack of your script, with CPU and memory usage, in a plain PHP Array or JSON output. forp is non intrusive and it provides PHP annotations to do its work.


Belt is a collection of useful tools for PHP developers. It offers over 60 useful functions.

Icon Generator for PHP

Icon generator lets you generate initial based icons with a colored background similar to Gmail’s.


RainLoop is a free and open source PHP webmail application for anyone wanting to use a single interface for many accounts. The application has a modern user interface and supports both SMTP + IMAP.

Pattern Lab

Pattern Lab is more a framework for front-end frameworks, a PHP-powered static site generator or your project’s pattern library and frontend style guide.


This dependency manager for PHP lets you create a composer file in your project root, run a single command, and all your dependencies are downloaded ready to use.


Directus is a free and open-source, client-friendly database GUI written in Backbone.js that provides a feature-rich environment for rapid development and management of custom database solutions.

PHP Debug Bar

The DebugBar integrates easily in any projects and can display profiling data from any part of your application. It comes built-in with data collectors for standard PHP features and popular projects.

Phalcon PHP

Phalcon PHP is a web framework delivered as a C extension providing high performance and lower resource consumption.


Pinboard is a MySQL storage engine that acts as a realtime monitoring/statistics server for PHP using MySQL as a read-only interface.


Casebox is an open source and PHP/MySQL-powered web application for storing and managing records, tasks and files. It has a desktop-like interface where we can create an unlimited-level of directories and store stuff in the structure preferred.


Munee is an all-in-one library that handles many things related to optimization and manipulation of website assets. The library has a powerful caching feature that can cache resources in both server and client-side.


ImageWorkshop is an open source class using the GD library that helps you to manage images with PHP. This class is thought like photo editing software like Photoshop and GIMP: you can superpose many layers or even layer groups, each layer having a background image.


Sylius is an open source and free e-commerce solution for PHP (and based on Symfony2). It is capable of managing stores of any size and having complex products and categories.


Pico is an open source CMS application that is capable of very few things, which is the main point. It uses flat-files as the database and built with PHP. Simply, there is no setup and the app works instantly.

PHP Documentor

PHP Documentor reads the structure of your code, the filesystem structure, the classes, functions and everything in between, and generates documentation from that.


CakePHP is an open source web application framework. It follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) approach and is written in PHP, modeled after the concepts of Ruby on Rails, and distributed under the MIT License.


CodeIgniter is a powerful open-source PHP framework with a very small footprint.

Monsta FTP

Monsta FTP is PHP cloudware and which places FTP file management on the web browser. The user can easily drag and drop files into the web browser.


XAMPP is a free and open source cross-platform web server solution stack package, consisting mainly of the Apache HTTP Server, MySQL database, and interpreters for scripts written in the PHP and Perl programming languages.


NetBeans is open source, and allows you to quickly and easily develop desktop, mobile and web applications with Java, HTML5, PHP, C/C++ and more.


Aura provides independent library packages for PHP 5.4+. These packages can be used alone, in concert with each other, or combined into a full-stack framework of their own.


PHPCheckstyle is an open-source tool that helps PHP programmers adhere to certain coding conventions. The tool checks the input PHP source code and reports any violations against the given standards.

PHP Mess Detector

PHP Mess Detector is an easy to configure, user-friendly front-end for the raw metrics that PHP Depend measures. It looks for several potential problems in your code, including possible bugs, suboptimal code, unused parameters, and more.


Kohana is an elegant, open source, and object oriented HMVC framework built using PHP5, by a team of volunteers. It aims to be swift, secure, and small.


A parser for CSS Files written in PHP. This allows extraction of CSS files into a data structure, manipulation of said structure and output as (optimized) CSS.


Nette Framework is a tool for PHP web development. It is designed to be as usable and as friendly as possible. It focuses on security and performance and is definitely one of the safest PHP frameworks.

PHP Markdown

This is a library package that includes the PHP Markdown parser and its sibling PHP Markdown Extra with additional features. Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers.

Yii 2

Yii 2 is a complete rewrite of its previous version Yii 1.1 which is one of the most popular PHP frameworks. Yii is a high-performance PHP framework best for developing Web 2.0 applications.

PHP Sandbox

PHP Sandbox utilizes PHPParser to prevent sandboxed code from running unsafe code. It utilizes FunctionParser to disassemble callables passed to the sandbox, so that PHP callables can also be run in sandboxes without first converting them into strings.

Justas Markus is the co-founder & chief operating officer of Refe. He's a traveler, blogger, athlete and entrepreneur. Catch up with Justas on Twitter More articles by Justas Markus
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