Zend Advances PHP

Zend's offerings include new products and expanded partnerships with IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

Zend Technologies is looking to extend the capabilities of the PHP Web development language as a key platform for business-critical Web applications.

At its third annual ZendCon PHP conference Oct. 8-11 in Burlingame, Calif., Zend made a series of announcements, including a new Eclipse-based PHP integrated development environment, a new version of Zend Core, and joint announcements with IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

Zend, of Cupertino, Calif., announced Zend Studio for Eclipse, an all-new PHP IDE (integrated development environment) that allows developers to take advantage of the Eclipse framework. Zend Studio for Eclipse is a commercial product that builds on the recently announced open-source Eclipse PDT project, and is aimed at speeding PHP development with a comprehensive set of editing, debugging, analysis, optimization and database tools. Zend also made available a pre-release version, code-named Neon. General availability is expected in early 2008.

In an interview with eWEEK, Andi Gutmans, chief technology officer and co-founder of Zend, said the companys contributions to the Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools) framework led to the new Zend Studio for Eclipse offering. "Its a sophisticated PHP editor," he said. "We now offer a full, professional IDE with the whole range of things we added to PDT and more."

Meanwhile, IBM introduced the IBM Mashup Starter Kit. The tool kit, available from the IBM alphaWorks Web site, enables nontechnical business users to create sophisticated business applications by combining Web services with drag-and-drop ease. The tool kit has been created with PHP 5, using Zend Core for IBM, Zend Framework and DB2 data servers. Zend also announced that it is offering a single source of support for PHP applications running on DB2 databases. This solution, which includes Zend Core for IBM and DB2 Express-C, can be extended with DB2 Connect technology to provide access to i5/OS and z/OS data servers.

Zend and Microsoft built on a partnership the companies fostered over the last year, beginning with last years ZendCon PHP conference. This year, Microsoft announced the release of the GoLive beta of an Internet Information Services add-on component, FastCGI. FastCGI serves as an interface between PHP and an IIS Web server delivering substantial reliability and performance benefits for PHP applications running on Windows. It is now available for free from Microsoft at http://www.iis.net/php.

Microsoft also announced the first Community Technology Preview of its SQL Server 2005 Driver for PHP that gives developers an optimized way to link their PHP applications to SQL Server 2005. Microsoft and Zend are working together, and with the PHP community, to extend database support in PHP to SQL Server 2005 and make it part of Zends core PHP offering.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Server Core is an installation option for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 that provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles, while reducing maintenance and management requirements. Zend announced it will support Microsoft Server Core in upcoming releases of Zend Core, giving PHP developers a way to optimize server reliability and performance when their PHP applications are running on Windows.

In addition, Zend and Microsoft said they are collaborating to add support for Information Cards into Zend Framework. The collaboration will enable PHP developers to create applications that support identification and authentication, including single sign-on for a broad range of Web site users, such as those using Windows CardSpace, the companies said. This commitment to interoperability will reduce development costs and make the Web safer and more secure for people, Gutmans said.

For its part, Oracle announced an open-source contribution of an enhanced Oracle Call Interface (OCI8) database driver for PHP, supporting Oracle Database 11g features such as connection pooling and fast application notification. The new OCI8 driver for PHP enables a single commodity server to support tens of thousands of database connections and, at the same time, provide higher availability. Oracle has posted a preview of the new OCI8 driver for PHP to the PECL repository. Zend will support the new capability in an upcoming release of Zend Core.

Zend also announced the release of Zend Core 2.5, which enhances PHP 5 for deployment of business-critical Web applications, Gutmans said. Among the improvements in version 2.5 are simplified installation and maintenance of the full PHP application stack, including Web servers, databases, extensions and the Zend Framework. Version 2.5 releases of Zend Core for IBM, Zend Core for i5/OS and Zend Core for Oracle will be available in the fourth quarter, company officials said.


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