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No Food for Thought

EasyPHP review - not so easy to choose over XAMPP

admin Monday October 8, 2018

In recent years, I ranted about 2 of the main options for installing a development AMP (Apache, PHP) stack (including Xdebug) on Windows, namely XAMPP and WampServer. I was hoping that I could be kinder towards EasyPHP, but after trying EasyPHP Devserver on Windows 8 for several months, I'm not very satisfied.

Before anything, I should note that my first attempt to install Devserver 17.0 failed. Oddly enough, it worked after I installed the same version on the same Windows install several months later.

Cost/limitations

The first thing to say is that unlike the others, EasyPHP is semi-commercial. It offers modules from a "warehouse". It costs 10 USD per year to access that warehouse.

I don't have a problem with asking to pay for special packages, but I feel that EasyPHP developers are trying to get users to pay for the basics. The warehouse offers an Xdebug Manager module, which must be great. But when you don't have that, Xdebug isn't even enabled, and there is no easy way to enable it. I think it's just a matter of having the correct zend_extension line in php.ini, and it may just be a matter of uncommenting (removing a semi-colon from) a disabled line, but I feel that in order to make their module interesting, EasyPHP developers have intentionally made default EasyPHP worse.

The other area where I smell this practice is PHP itself. The current version of EasyPHP ships with PHP 7.1.3, which is 1½-year-old. Much newer versions are available in the warehouse, but 7.1.3 feels like an old version to ship as default. There may be good reasons to wait before going to PHP 7.2, since existing applications need changes to adapt to PHP's backwards-incompatible changes, but when PHP 7.1 has reached 7.1.22, shipping 7.1.3 seems quite negligent.

Issues

The other thing is that while EasyPHP does have an issue tracker, it has in fact 2, 1 for Devserver and another entirely different one for Webserver, which presumably causes lots of duplication or difficulty finding already reported issues.

I hit several important issues with EasyPHP:

  1. The dashboard being inaccessible
  2. Opening dashboard sometimes restarts Apache httpd on a different port
  3. EasyPHP needs to be started every time I open a session. Plus, the dashboard needs to be opened for servers to start.


None of the first 2 had already been reported. And several months later, they remain unsolved.

Conclusion

After trying the 3 main options, I'm sorry to say I don't see a clear winner. WampServer is definitely the worst, but between EasyPHP and XAMPP, there is no clear winner. If you're willing to pay, EasyPHP might be a little better. If not, XAMPP probably wins narrowly in general, but I recommend to choose according to your needs and the precise packages and versions offered by each option at the time you choose.

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