Zend Rolls Out PHP App Server and Dev Tools

Zend Technologies Wednesday launched its PHP-based Web application server, Zend Platform 3.6, as a general-availability product, while simultaneously announcing the immediate availability of Zend Studio for Eclipse, its IDE plug-in for PHP development.

"We did the two releases together because they're synergistic technologies," said Andi Gutmans, Zend's cofounder and co-CTO. "And together, they show an increase in enterprise readiness [of PHP]."

PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) is one of the most popular dynamic scripting languages and seems to be making serious inroads into the enterprise. TIOBE Software's Programming Community Index now ranks PHP ahead of C++ on its popularity index.

The new Zend Platform is designed to monitor PHP apps in real time. It enables a "holistic view" of performance management, according to Gutmans, reporting on script errors, performance issues and problems with the database. The new version also adds the ability to monitor HTTP, Apache and Java events. Zend added caching functionality for preoptimized PHP byte code and content. It also added the ability to scale apps across clusters of servers.

A new URL-based caching capability in Zend Platform will markedly improve the performance of applications built for the Zend Framework, Gutmans said. Apps built for the Zend Platform generally use the model-view-controller design pattern, he explained, which enables a separation of business logic and data from the user interface elements. The Zend Framework is an open source, object-oriented Web-app framework implemented in PHP 5. The project is lead by Zend, and it's available under the New BSD License. The company claims more than three million downloads of the framework to date. The next version is due at the end of the first quarter of 2008.

Zend Studio is an IDE built on the tools and frameworks of the open source Eclipse PHP Development Tools (PDT) project. The PDT is one of the more popular projects of the Eclipse Foundation, which has reported more than 250,000 downloads since its September 2007 launch. Zend Studio is a commercial implementation of that technology integrated with the Zend Platform.

The new version of Zend Studio is highly enterprise-focused. It features a set of editing, debugging, analysis, optimization and database tools. It supports agile development processes using unit testing, refactoring, code coverage and profiling. It comes with multiple language support, and an HTML WYSIWYG editor.

Zend added path-mapping capabilities (Web-server paths to workspace paths) to Zend Studio so that the debugger will be able to recognize PHP files and breakpoints located in a developer's workspace and deployed to the server using <alias>, symbolic-links, or virtual hosts. The IDE comes with new unit-test reporting features, the ability to debug remote files, and code-generation capabilities for overriding methods that are implemented in super-class or implementing methods that are declared in one of the interfaces that the class implements.

Zend Studio is a tool for developers, and the Platform product tends to be used by system administrators, but it's good to have them integrated, according to Mark de Visser, Zend's chief marketing officer.

"Keeping these products tightly integrated means that what the developer delivers to the operations team has a better chance of performing well," de Visser explained.

Zend Studio for Eclipse is available now here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Palo Alto, CA.

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