Rockin' Your Drupal Development Environment

FREE Drupal and PHP Dev Tools
On Sept. 15th, the Surrey Drupal meetup is having a panel discussion on Drupal Development Environments called How do you Drupal? So in preparation, I'm writing about the Dev environment I use everyday, (XAMPP 1.6.8 for Windows), ones I've tried out (Acquia Dev Desktop, Zend Studio) and one I plan to install soon (VirtualBox, QuickStart and Drush). What are your favourite Development platforms and tools? Leave your comments below.
1. Acquia Desktop Dev
This one I've tried out and I recommend for people new to Drupal. It includes a full server to run your Drupal site: Apache, MySQL and PHP. It is quick to install and includes the Acquia Drupal distribution. This is a bundle of Drupal modules that work together to get you started quickly building your first Drupal website. Comes with Drupal 6 or 7.
2. XAMPP 1.6.8 for Windows
This free server bundle is available at  Yes, I know, there's a more recent version available at But the latest version uses PHP 5.3. While the current version of Drupal 6, version 6.22, runs great on PHP 5.3, earlier versions did not. Also many Drupal 6 modules were written in PHP 5.2 and may not work error-free on PHP 5.3. So I’m sticking with XAMPP 1.6.8 for now. I have written a step by step instructions on how to install and configure XAMPP 1.6.8 for developing Drupal 6 websites. Let me know if you need any help with basic configuration.
3. Tools for learning PHP
I downloaded Zend Studio Editor and used it while learning PHP at BCIT. They have a free 30 day trial and it includes a server, editor and a debugger. It really helped to write error-free code. PHP debugging tip: copy the HTML source code from the browser View source and run it through your HTML Validator. Then go back and fix the PHP code that generated your HTML pages.
Zend now has free community server and PDT
I was disappointed when my free 30 day trial of Zend Studio ended back when I was taking that PHP course. They didn't have any free tools back then. But they do now. You can download the free Community Zend server and PDT (PHP Development Tools).

PHP Development Tools (PDT) is a free open source development tool that provides you with the basic code editing capabilities you need to get started. PDT is based on the widely popular Eclipse project and Web Tools Platform. It enables you to:
- Edit your PHP source code
- Use code assist, PHP code templates, auto-formatting
- Debugger included
a. Download Eclipse PDT
b. Download Free community Zend server –
c. Learn PHP - PHP 101 Tutorial:
You can still download a free 30 day trial of Zend Studio 8.0. It comes with PHP/mySQL server, editor and debugger. You can buy it for $299.00 USD.

4. Virtual Box and Quickstart
I've heard a lot about Drush - a command shell for Drupal. Only a few of the Drush commands work in a Windows environment so I will need to set up a Linux box. I plan to set up a fully functional Linux server using Virtualbox. Then I can install Quickstart - a development environment built specifically for Drupal. Quickstart includes Drush and lots of great development tools.
More info on Drush, a popular tool used to download and install Drupal modules quickly, can be found here:
5. Other Resources
a. Video: Rocking Your Drupal Dev Environment by Sacha Chua
Drupalcon DC 2009
- Pre-session notes:
- Here’s the video:



My choice is Codelobster: It is my favorite free PHP IDE with special plug-in for Drupal development.

Thanks a lot for sharing.

Thanks a lot for sharing. Your blog posts are very informative and helpful.

Drupal development environment

My fav one is XAMPP 1.6.8 for Windows so can you guide me for installation of this tool in drupal 7 and also the way to use drupal shell scripts on windows platform ?

Drush does work on Windows

Apparently, Drush does work on Windows. Use Drush 5. See this website for more information.

I have heard that not all of the commands work properly in the Windows environment. (This may be fixed by now). So it was recommended to me to install Linux using VirtualBox. Then I installed Quickstart, a Drupal Development Environment, that includes Drush. This works very well for me.

Quickstart #1

If you have a reasonably fast machine with at least 4+ GB Ram, I would strongly recommend going with VirtualBox and Quickstart. Quickstart has pre-installed and configured Netbeans for PHP development, and a number of example Drupal development builds. Additionally, it is configured to post outgoing emails to a log file. This is really a boon for any site which contains specific email functionality that will need to be tested, particularly if you are developing your applications on a consumer ISP, this allows you to test the outgoing emails, without needing to relay or otherwise adjust the standard email systems for your development. I believe for the average developer, this set up will save days of work and provide a portable and secure base for future development. Thanks! -Koji (

Thanks, Koji

Thanks, Koji, for your comment. I plan to install VirtualBox and Quickstart very soon. I'm glad to hear about how you can post outgoing emails to a log file. Thanks, again,

Katy :-)


am sure that this module is available only in the drupal 7 as I have tried with almost all the versions of the drupal sites and it seems no other version has this function in them. Good post

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