.Net Ripe for PHP Picking

PHP projects target Microsoft's .Net, the Dynamic Language Runtime and Silverlight.

REDMOND, Wash.-First it was Python, then Ruby, and now PHP is being groomed to run on Microsoft's .Net platform.

At the Lang.Net conference Microsoft is hosting at its campus here to discuss the future of programming languages, experts in the PHP language talked of their hope to see the popular Web development technology work better with Microsoft's offerings.

Microsoft already has IronPython and IronRuby, implementations of both the Python and Ruby dynamic languages running on .Net.

In a session Jan. 29, Wez Furlong, director of engineering at Message Systems, in Columbia, Md., and a core developer of PHP, said PHP is a widely used Web server glue language. "Wouldn't it be great if Web developers could transfer their language knowledge to the client side-like Silverlight," Furlong said. He was referring to Microsoft's cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for creating rich interactive applications, which supports both IronPython and IronRuby through the company's DLR (Dynamic Language Runtime).

Furlong said that although he contributes code to the PHP project, he has no experience developing on the Microsoft CLR (Common Language Runtime) or the DLR. "But I'm looking at how I'd do PHP on the DLR," he said.

However, Furlong pointed to Phalanger, an implementation of PHP that targets the Microsoft CLR, as evidence that it can be done. Phalanger is a PHP implementation that introduces the PHP language into the family of compiled .Net languages.

Phalanger was developed independently of the core PHP community, Furlong said, and he noted that he has worked mostly on the streaming and database layers of the PHP language. "But we're finally cooperating and looking at taking advantage of the DLR," Furlong said of the core PHP community and the Phalanger project. Phalanger is hosted on Microsoft's CodePlex community development site.

"Despite PHP and Phalanger being on two different paths, we're talking to each other and we're interested in getting PHP to run in Silverlight," Furlong said.