After being a web developer for so many years, I find that myself is still a big PHP fan. The reasons are quite obvious: first of all, it is lightweight, very easy to deploy to any server in the world, and it is free! There are also a lot of open source PHP frameworks such as CakePHP, Yii that we can use. As a PHP web developer, I want to share some tools here with my comments. Hope that they are useful.
1. WAMPServer (Apache/MySQL/PHP included)
Setup PHP+MySQL development environment in no time. It is not very hard to setup the development environment by yourself, however this tool is extremely helpful if you don’t want to spend your time to do the job that someone else has already done for you.
2. Framework: Bootstrap 3 (or 2.5)
Originally from Twitter team, it is now becoming famous for its responsive framework. I really like to use it because it really saves me time to write a lot of CSS.
3. Useful gadget: Firebug (plugin for firefox)
It is actually nothing to do with PHP, however, if you are developing a website, you don’t want to miss it.
4. Tortoise SVN for window / Tortoise Git for window
Version control. I like to use it because it is seamless embedded in window explorer.
5. Navicat lite
A lightweight MySQL client software. (No more free, please find it through google for the old version, trust me, old version is good as well)
6. NetBeans IDE
Open source PHP IDE. Other option: If you are developing open source project, you can also get a PHP Storm for free.
There are bunch of software/tools help to improve the productivity that can be found on Design Junction‘s Ultimate Free Toolkit for Internet Web Ninjas as well. Hundreds of tools are listed.