Zend Not Rated???
Wasn't Zend the first PHP IDE on the i with full support? They also are replacing mysql on the i. They are clearly the industry leader in PHP tools. I think that's not a minor but huge oversight. Many of the tools on your list are non-RPG, more i centric so I don't think just because a tool may have a few more RPG plug-ins that can overcome the obvious disparities between an industry powerhouse tool.
But to simply not rate them in the top 10 for a company that is replacing MySql on the i to allow MySql apps to interface with it is rather amazing. According to Zend, DBi is available as a 100% compatible drop-in replacement for MySql. Being able to leverage ALL existing PHP applications is a incredible advantage in a development tool.
I wouldn't even look at another PHP IDE on the i, besides Zend also being the creator of PHP. BTW I do not use PHP so from a purely objective POV, if I'm deciding to use PHP for web, etc development I'd certainly look no further than Zend. It's like the choice between using RPG on the i and some wanna-be PC RPG tool.
You sound as though you are a brand loyalist. Because Ford was the first company to mass produce automobiles, it therefore must be the best, and you wouldn't even consider seeing what late-comer General Motors offers. I think the logic here is a little flawed, particularly since you admit you're not a PHP programmer or user of either Zend or WebSmart tools. Nor do I see the logical connection between Zend DBi and your choice of a development tool. I would therefore find it a little rash to make an important buying decision based exclusively on brand recognition.
That said, I agree Zend is a passionate and talented company that is absolutely furthering PHP around the world and on IBM i, and we did mention Zend Studio twice in the article as a possible choice. Both Zend Studio and WebSmart run on the PC, by the way, not the IBM i server, and both can edit any PHP application you might want to tackle.
While it's true that WebSmart PHP has supported procedural, rather than object oriented, programming with its provided templates, that's because its users have, for the most part, been new to the language. You will see more object oriented templates coming from BCD later this year (you heard it here first). The reason is the company is finding its customer base is becoming more sophisticated.
Within the WebSmart IDE, the PHP and HTML are separated into different tabs similar to how RPG programmers work with RPG and DDS. Many other editors intermingle PHP with the HTML. You can also drag fields into the HTML/PHP. WebSmart integrates with third party visual editors like Dreamweaver, but Zend Server has some nice hooks into Adobe Flash Builder.
Both companies offer good paid support, but BCD support is second to none, and their techs understand RPG issues. People evaluating WebSmart PHP get unlimited free telephone support, though they must purchase maintenance going forward. While Zend Studio has tight integration with Zend Server, BCD offers a free (with maintenance) portal product, Nexus, to access and handle security on all those PHP applications you will write.
Ultimately, this is an individual decision, one that you must make for yourself. I would take the liberty, however, of suggesting that you make your decision based on features and service, not simply brand name and reputation. Try before you buy. Meanwhile, thanks for reading the article and taking the time to write in! All of us at MC Press Online value your patronage.