The improvements to PHP support in Dreamweaver CS5 turn the program into a serious contender as an integrated development environment (IDE) for PHP development. Dreamweaver lacks some of the advanced features of specialist IDEs such as Zend Studio and PhpED; for example, it doesn't have a profiler or debugger. You also need to install your own PHP-enabled web server.
Where Dreamweaver scores over the specialist IDEs is in the integration of its design and programming features. For a designer who wants to give a website server-side functionality (contact form, user registration and login system, database-driven image gallery, and so on), Dreamweaver speeds up both sides of the development process. Working in Split view with the Related Files feature turned on lets you switch back and forth between HTML, stylesheets, and PHP code quickly and easily, while keeping the page visible in Design view or Live View.
One of the main reasons for PHP's success is ease of learning. With code hints, built-in documentation, live syntax checking, autocompletion of variables, and navigable Live View, Dreamweaver CS5 makes it even easier for designers to take the plunge into server-side development.
David Powers is the author of a dozen bestselling books on Dreamweaver, PHP, and CSS. His latest book, Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 with PHP: Training from the Source, is scheduled for publication by Adobe Press in August 2010. David is an Adobe Community Professional for Dreamweaver, and he can often be found solving PHP and other web-related problems in the Dreamweaver forums. Before devoting himself to writing about web development, David was a radio and TV journalist for the BBC. He also developed a bilingual Japanese-English online database service for a leading UK-based consultancy.