Zend Optimizes PHP for Mobile in New Server, Studio Releases

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-02-13

Zend Optimizes PHP for Mobile in New Server, Studio Releases

Zend, a maker of software for PHP developers, has launched a new version of its application platform and tools for building PHP applications, particularly mobile apps.

Zend announced Zend Server 6, the latest version of its application platform for Web and mobile applications. The new release provides tools, processes and infrastructure to enable teams to streamline and simplify their collaboration. The platform features an automated deployment capability for taking an application from test to production, which leads to faster, less error-prone deployment of software releases.

This release is focused on helping developers prevent and avoid application failure. It features insight into root causes of problems, such as when an app does not perform in production as it did in development. And the new platform supports collaboration between development and operations teams, with developers having access to production debugging information in a controlled manner—in view-only mode.

New troubleshooting tools in the release include a process that records the underlying code execution so developers can go back and see where problems occur.

Zend Server 6 also features an API-based architecture that enables integration with a range of continuous integration and monitoring tools, such as Hudson, Jenkins, Nagios and HP OpenView. And it features support and the latest security updates for PHP and Zend Framework.

"Zend Server 6 is like insurance against the most common application issues," said Andi Gutmans, CEO of Zend, in a statement. "Zend clients have already been able to avoid challenges caused by lack of security patches or support by subscribing to Zend Server. Zend Server 6 takes it to the next level by providing a full toolset to help development and ops teams attack the most common causes of application failure—together.   

"I am particularly excited to be giving back to our development community by offering access to a free version of Zend Server that lets them start receiving the benefit of Zend Server's advanced troubleshooting, performance diagnostic and debugging capabilities early in the development cycle," he said.

Developers can build faster apps by leveraging features such as bytecode, data object and URL-based page caching, and the ability to accelerate application code by parallelizing tasks with the Job Queue feature. There also are new debugging tools, including new Web services debugging, integrated across Zend Server and Zend Studio 10 integrated development environment (IDE), the latest version of Zend's toolset.

"Zend Server gives us real-time visibility and control in the production environment," said Robert Kerner, senior vice president and chief digital officer at NYSE Euronext, in a statement. "It proactively monitors the application, and code tracing acts like a flight recorder, providing root-cause diagnostics so we can resolve issues quickly and definitively. In one example, Zend Server helped us resolve a problem related to SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] in our replicated environment that might otherwise have gone undetected. Within three days of our first site launch, Zend helped us optimize performance by more than 200 percent."

Meanwhile, operations teams can use Zend Server 6 to manage and meet their application service-level agreement (SLA) commitments. They can avoid and resolve errors stemming from configuration issues, via proactive alerting and lockdown of unauthorized configuration changes. Monitoring dashboards enables operations teams to gauge application health at a glance and over time, including the ability to set different caching and monitoring rules for each application. Using performance dashboards, ops can manage and predict performance and peak loads, and rely on Zend Server's application failover to ensure high availability, the company said.

Zend also introduced a free version of Zend Server 6. As in the commercial editions, Zend Server free edition includes a certified PHP stack, PHP profiling and debugging. It also features application and server performance charting, tools for application deployment and monitoring, and the ability to manually generate code traces for advanced debugging. However, compared with the commercial editions, the free edition has limited data and metric retention periods, no technical support and limited production capabilities.

Zend Server 6 is available on-premise or in the cloud. Enterprises can leverage Zend Server with a variety of cloud infrastructure and management software, including IBM Smart Cloud, Amazon Web Services, VMware, Red Hat, RightScale and others. Zend Server can be purchased directly from Zend, through Zend's channel and cloud partners, and pricing starts at under $100 a month on the Amazon Web Services marketplace. Zend Framework, a PHP application framework, is also available as an integrated component of Zend Server.

Zend Optimizes PHP for Mobile in New Server, Studio Releases

Zend Studio 10 streamlines the process of creating, testing and deploying PHP applications, with a particular focus on mobile apps with a PHP back-end. Developers can prototype, create and debug both client-side mobile apps and server-side PHP APIs from a single interface.

"Zend Studio 10's latest features are tailored for today's mobile-first environment," said Zeev Suraski, CTO and co-founder of Zend, in a statement. "When we came to design Studio 10, our challenge was bringing the extreme simplicity that has made PHP so successful into the creation of mobile apps, and I'm extremely proud with the results of our work. 

"With Zend Studio 10, back-end, front-end and mobile systems are all accessible in an integrated, visual environment that is simple yet powerful.  … Combined with Zend Framework 2 and Zend Server 6, Zend Studio 10 offers the industry-leading platform for creating cloud-connected mobile applications," he said.

Zend Studio 10 enables developers to develop and maintain their PHP code faster, solve application problems more quickly, take advantage of the cloud and improve team collaboration. Productivity is further enhanced through the streamlining of common workflows and by removing steps from the development process.

The new release features faster debugging, integrated PHP and JavaScript debugging, profiling, code inspection and quick fix, test generation and reporting. Zend Studio 10 and Zend Server 6 provide an integrated debug mode, in which Zend Server  6 will automatically trigger a debugger session in Zend Studio 10 on any incoming request, whether from a mobile emulator or real device.

Zend Studio also simplifies the creation of mobile applications with server back-ends so that even developers with no prior experience can use it. Also, rather than coding native apps for each mobile platform, whether iOS, Android or Windows Phone, developers can create apps powered by Apache Cordova, also known as PhoneGap, that run across multiple mobile devices. Cordova is an open-source mobile development framework that enables programmers to build applications for mobile devices using JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3, instead of device-specific languages such as Objective-C.

In addition, a drag-and-drop visual editor enables rapid creation of RPC-style or RESTful services without having to write any connectivity code, allowing the developer to focus on the business logic. Client-server plumbing, including routing, authentication, validation and filtering, request parameter binding, dispatching and rendering JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) response, are handled by Zend Server Gateway.

The Web Mobile emulator enables testing of applications, even before generating native packages. And integration with platform-specific integrated development environments (IDEs) such as xCode and Visual Studio, and tools such as Android Development Tools enable developers to test applications on an emulator or deploy them to a real Android or Windows Phone device directly from Zend Studio. Also, Zend Studio 10 enables a simple workflow to create iOS, Android and Windows Phone mobile applications that can be published on their respective application stores, for maximum user reach and easy consumption.

In addition, Zend Studio 10 enables developers to create a Zend Framework 2 application with the proper structure, files and directories, out of the box and ready to use, Zend officials said.

"We're excited at how much momentum we've seen with Zend Framework 2, and how much it has already helped developers," Matthew Weier O'Phinney, Zend Framework project leader, said in a statement. "It is great to see features being built into Zend Studio that are designed to help ZF 2 users."

Moreover, developers can easily publish mobile apps to the cloud using Zend Server, the leading PHP Web application server, to ensure that code is deployed correctly and consistently. Zend Studio also helps developers take full advantage of the Zend Developer Cloud, an instantly available, consistent PHP environment for superior debugging, solid productivity and team collaboration.

Zend Studio 10 is also integrated with Red Hat OpenShift. Developers can easily deploy their PHP applications to Zend Server on premise or in the cloud, including deploying an app directly to Zend Server for Red Hat OpenShift.

"With OpenShift, Red Hat's platform as a service (PaaS), and Zend Studio 10, developers can spend more time coding and less time setting up servers and configuring software on the cloud," said Jimmy Guerrero, director of product marketing for OpenShift at Red Hat. "Zend Studio enables developers to seamlessly develop and deploy their code in OpenShift, then easily plug in additional software cartridges like MongoDB, MySQL and PostgreSQL to work with their apps. It's a plug-and-play solution with incredible benefits built in."

Zend Studio 10 is available for download at www.zend.com/studio, as a free trial, and can be purchased directly through the Zend online store. For a limited time only, as an introductory promotion, Zend Studio is available at 50 percent off its price of $299 and is going for $149.

Zend is also offering a special upgrade price of $129 to existing Studio 9 customers. Along with the introductory price, Zend Studio now includes free upgrades and support for 12 months.

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