A good workbench streamlines your development chores. Whether you're a fan of robust Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) or sleek text editors, a workbench is essential for keeping all your most needed tools just a few keystrokes away.
At its heart is a good text editor, and in today's world that means one that has color syntax highlighting. Beyond that, the choice of whether to use code-completion, hot tips, auto-indenting, collapsing sections, class browsers, etc. is personal. Some developers don't care for all those bells and whistles, and do just fine with one of the many excellent free text editors that are widely available.
For others, the ease of point-and-click, especially for trying out new or unfamiliar commands, make IDEs attractive. Either way, every workbench needs core tools like "find in files" and global replace.
Beyond that, the most popular workbench packages round out their feature set by integrating the debuggers, syntax checkers, and standards compliance validators needed for writing and testing code.
The Eclipse development environment has its devotees, historically among the Java crowd, but increasingly also among the PHP crowd. The only fault some developers find with Eclipse is that it has way too many customization features, making it difficult at first to get the programming efficiency expected.