PHPstorm vs. VScode: How do they Compare for Web Development?

  • 9 mins read

PHPstorm vs. VScode: How do they Compare for Web Development?

IDEs and text editors have continually evolved from the early days of coding, and today we have a seemingly never-ending list of great applications to pick from for writing code. 

But it’s not just about writing the code; it’s also about the feel a particular IDE or integrated development environment provides. The add-on features that every ide and text editor offers, sometimes even the visual aesthetics, can make a huge difference. Some programmers adore simplicity, while some have a knack for more advanced, sophisticated layouts. Just as you need a more advanced calculator to solve more significant math problems, you will need a proper IDE or text editor to develop better programs.

When we talk about web development, two tools instantly pop into our minds, PHPstorm vs. VScode. Both are so efficient and well-rounded in all corners that it becomes confusing to pick one. 

But don’t worry, we have you covered; come along as we highlight the key differences between them.

Let’s talk about VScode first.

Through its first release in April 2015, Visual Studio Code opened the door for the software giant’s rebranding. With five years of constant support, feature updates, and a robust free plugin ecosystem, its popularity has skyrocketed.

VScode didn’t take much time at all to become a fan favorite. Within its one-year release, it became one of the most popular text editors for most users. In 2016 it was ranked 13th on the top popular development tool list. By 2019, the community voted VScode, the best development text editor. 

PHPstorm vs. VScode image of VScode

Here are some notable features of VScode which will make you immediately fall in love with it.

Ease of Use

Nothing can deny that simplicity makes the programming experience way more efficient. VScode does a great job of providing a simple, powerful platform to help developers. Many feel that their initial steps with VScode are straightforward and intuitive. If you want to build an easy project with HTML and CSS, you’ll get used to the interface without much difficulty.


One of the best things about using visual studio code is that you will find a wide range of extensions that you can add to your setup. Developers have created numerous extensions for Visual Studio Code, and contributors (fans of VScode) have developed multiple extensions for Visual Studio Code. New extensions are added to the VScode marketplace every day. These extensions are frequently successful and well-liked.

From pretty visual themes to code completion, the VScode marketplace is full of extensions that make programming more efficient. This extensibility is what makes the VScode stand out the most. You can customize VScode according to your needs. 

Debugging Support

As a programmer, you know the importance of debugging. One of the key features of Visual Studio Code is its great debugging support. VScode’s built-in debugger helps accelerate editing, compiling, and debugging loops. To begin debugging, just launch the debugger’s executable. Then, you’ll be able to debug your code directly in VScode, which has all the features you need for efficient debugging.

Code Completion

Instead of writing all of the code lines entirely, how cool would it be if you could get some sort of automatic code completion? VScode offers its automatic code completion, known as “Intellisense.” 

Code completion simplifies the developer’s life and saves them a lot of time.   Instead of seeking documentation now and again, VScode’s built-in efficient code completion feature offers the developer valuable and accurate recommendations. Just like how it feels nice to have suggestion pop up whenever you start searching for something on google, Intellisense provides creative ways of writing code.

Powerful Syntax Highlighting

The color and style of the source code shown in the Visual Studio Code editor are determined by syntax highlighting. It is responsible for coloring JavaScript keywords like if and for distinctively than strings, comments, and variable names. VScode has quick syntax error detection. It swiftly detects problems and gives extra clues, such as identifying unused variables, making it more straightforward for a developer to debug, restructure, or produce clean code.


  • Simplicity – PHPstorm has complex features. It’s like an overstuffed toolbox. You have stuff you don’t use, yet you carry the bulk of the toolkit. But with Visual Studio Code, you can decide what you want to have in your toolkit.
  • Up to Date – VScode is under constant development. The gap between VScode versions and the most recent ones is astounding.
  • Free of Cost – Since it is free to use, organizations have no objections to their developers utilizing it. Because it is free, it encourages many people to contribute to its codebase. As a result, it is a code editor that is constantly improving and becoming better. As a result, the VScode community is driven and involved in improving it.


  • Less Built-in Features –  If you are more of a fan of a feature-rich JetBrains product, you will be dissatisfied. For built-in PHP-specific features, VScode loses out. So in the PHPstorm vs. VScode competition, PHPstorm does come at the top in this regard.
  • Unexpected Crashes – Some extensions encounter a problem that results in crashes, which reduces the overall coding experience and breaks the momentum. 
  • Resource Intensive – Visual Studio Code isn’t the best for resource management. Since it’s not a native application like Vim, Emacs, or even Sublime Text, opening VScode is similar to opening another Chrome window because it consumes a significant amount of RAM and CPU.

Now how about PHPstorm?

Released in 2009, PHPstorm is one of Jetbrain’s most iconic IDE, and it is also one of the most frequently used IDE when it comes to Web Development. According to JetBrains’ The State of Developer Ecosystem 2021, PHPstorm is the most prevalent IDE used by PHP developers, with VScode coming in second.

PHPstorm aims to meet all of the requirements of a PHP developer, including complete JavaScript, CSS, and HTML support. On the other hand, Jetbrain’s famous product, “WebStorm”, is designed for serious JavaScript developers. It provides functionality most PHP developers do not need, such as Node.JS. However, you can install similar plugins for free in PHPstorm.

PHPstorm provides you with all of the capabilities of WebStorm (HTML and PHP Editor, JavaScript Editor) and complete PHP and Databases/SQL support. 

In short,  PHPstorm = WebStorm + PHP + Database support.

PHPstorm vs. VScode PHPstorm view

Here are some features of PHPstorm that make it a one-of-a-kind IDE.

Complete Web Development Environment

There is a common misconception that PHPstorm is only for PHP development; however, that’s wrong. As most PHP developers have to deal with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other languages in addition to PHP frequently, Jetbrains made sure to include all of the language support in PHPstorm, providing a complete Web Development Environment. On top of that, it provides code completion and syntax highlighting, making it simple for you to work with any language. 

All WebStorm capabilities are present in PHPstorm, with the addition of complete PHP and database support. By offering editable UML class diagrams for PHP code, PHPstorm assists developers in understanding and changing their code efficiently.

Excellent integration of version control

Multiple developers, designers, and team members may collaborate on the same project using version control systems. The Version Control System assists you in managing the source code by keeping track of all code revisions. It also safeguards your source code from unexpected human mistakes such as deleting. PHPstorm fully supports many version control systems, the most notable of which are GitHub and Git. From inside the IDE, programmers may branch and merge. Furthermore, PHPstorm provides great FTP support, allowing you to publish your code to a remote server in seconds.

Testing and debugging

PHPstorm has one of the richest mechanisms for testing and debugging. Debugging your application is simplified using zero-configuration debugging. PHPUnit allows you to create and execute unit tests directly from your IDE. Xdebug and Zend Debugger are used to profile the apps, and aggregated reports are checked in PHPstorm.

Out-of-the-Box Database Support

For dealing with SQL and databases in your projects, PHPstorm offers tools and code aid capabilities. It connects to the database, updates table data, runs queries, and even uses UML diagrams to examine structures.

PHP Frameworks Support

If you want to work with PHP frameworks, PHPstorm is an excellent option if you utilize PHP frameworks. It interacts well with several frameworks, including Laravel, CakePHP, Symfony2, and Yii.


  • Fast – It’s incredibly fast. Sublime is the only feature-rich editor that can compete with PHPstorm; however, when it comes to managing large-scale projects, PHPstorm wins hands down.
  • Integrations – It features various native integrations, such as SFTP, GIT, Xdebug, and MySQL. It is compelling if properly configured.
  • Numerous Built-in Features – PHPstorm has a plethora of built-in functionality. It is simple to get started, but it is possible to accomplish more complicated things if required. Autocompletion is relatively quick and accurate as compared to VScode.


  • Price – It’s a bit pricey. As its rival VScode is free, some users might prefer getting free over getting better.
  • Cluttered UI – Confusing icons everywhere over-complicate the workspace.
  • Resource Intensive – It frequently indexes your project and may take many hours, significantly affecting the usability of your whole system.

PHPstorm vs. VScode: Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s review some of the developers’ most frequently asked questions regarding PHPstorm vs. VScode.

Which is lighter, PHPstorm or VScode?

When it comes to PHPstorm vs. VScode, VScode is lighter. However, adding extensions will make your workflow smoother; A downside of extensions is that VScode will start to feel heavy and a bit laggy. On the other hand, PHPstorm already comes with inbuilt functionalities, so you don’t have to add extra plugins.

Is PHPstorm built on IntelliJ?

PHPstorm is a web development tool developed on the open-source IntelliJ Platform. In comparison, VScode is based on Electron/Chromium.

How much does PHPstorm cost?

PHPstorm can be pricey, costing around $249 yearly and $24.90 monthly.

Final Thoughts

We discussed the battle between PHPstorm vs. VScode, highlighted their main features, and also pointed out their cons. If you still feel confused about which one to pick, you can try both of them, and whatever feels more your type, you can stick to that.

As a web developer, you have the right to your preferences regarding how you code, the languages and frameworks you use, the design patterns you employ, and the integrated development environment (IDE) you choose. Each individual has their method of accomplishing things; some of you may use IDEs differently than those mentioned, but hey – as long as it gets the job done, right?