I am a self-taught programmer/consultant since 1993. At first I developed client-server applications in Visual basic version 1.0 As web programming got popular I moved on to ASP, again from version 1. I went to school for RDBMS training under MS SQL Server. I went on with MS platform through 2002.
As of 2011 I gleefully switched over to PHP and MySQL. I'm very impressed with both, especially MySQL. Compared to MS it's a dream and very forgiving to work with. The only thing I miss is some of the add-on controls that ASP (3rd part) had to work with. Spreadsheet grids and many other controls that had excellent design time interfaces.
The closest things to compare with would be controls like KOOLPHP/and a few others as of late. I use the RAD tools that came with Dreamweaver 6, and those are far better then anything in visual studio, especially for simple two-way binding of form fields.
I also use code lobster for debugging, MySQL workbench and Firefox's fire bug. I am very glad to be on this side of the development fence and these will be my language and tools from here on out. Thanks all for responding to my posts and I will do my best to assist others here as my knowledge of PHP increases.