Zend Updates PHP Framework and Tools

Zend Technologies, the creator and commercial maintainer of PHP, today released upgraded versions of its development environment, Zend Studio, and the open-source Zend Framework.

The release of Zend Studio Version 7.0 comes as PHP, one of the most popular dynamic scripting languages, continues to grow in popularity. PHP has been making significant inroads into the enterprise, according to industry analysts.

The first Zend Framework was released in 2004, and there have been four minor releases since then. Versions 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, and now 1.9 came out in rapid succession; all were backward compatible. Version 1.6 and 1.7 added Dojo, JavaScript, and Flash support to address growing interest in rich Internet applications (RIAs). Version 1.8, which was released early this spring, added enhancements for rapid application development (RAD). All of those releases came out of the work in the open source community, and what Kent Mitchell, Zend’s director of product management, called “aggressive contributions” from such companies as Microsoft, Adobe, Google, and British Telecom.

“We’ve come a long way from the days when people used PHP to create little counters on Web sites,” Mitchell said. “I think the reason for that is the Zend Framework is a more professionally run open source project, and the emphasis on full unit test of every single component. With a solid set of tests, people could be confident that it wasn’t going to regress. The quality is what has brought a lot of people to the table.”

The popularity of PHP among enterprise developers reflects the growing importance of web development in those environments, said Redmonk analyst Michael Coté. “There's a whole generation of developers who are ‘Web developers,’” he said, “meaning that their primary UI is the Web. Web applications are simply how new application development is done nowadays, no matter what side of the firewall you're on. PHP, of course, has long been one of the quick, easy, and effective ways to develop web apps, so it's little wonder that corporate developers would have more interest in PHP, especially as the .Net/Java mind-share hegemony has been loosening up of late.”

Zend’s Mitchell agreed: “PHP is really gaining a lot of ground in real companies,” he said. “GE, Fox Interactive, and lots of companies are looking at PHP simply because it’s a better technology for them to do these Web-facing apps.”

The Zend Server integration of the Studio tools and the Framework is another sign of PHP’s evolution into the enterprise, said Cote. “The server’s roadmap has seen it move more and more into the general application server category of late,” he said, “which fits, conceptually, with the what corporate developers expect on the backend of their applications: some sort of container or runtime that their applications not only ‘live’ in, but laced with services (like message buses) that their applications use.”

Version 7.0 of the Zend Studio IDE adds support for the latest version of PHP (v5.3) and integrates more fully with the Zend Framework and Zend’s Web app server product, among other enhancements. The new version of Zend’s open source, object-oriented Web-app Framework (v1.9) also supports PHP 5.3, and adds automated routing and detection of RESTful web services, messaging enhancements, support for Microsoft Active Directory, and new unit-testing capabilities.

Coté said Zend’s decision to include message queues and REST improvements in its Framework is also a noteworthy step. "As you get more into the enterprise these are the parts of a framework developers need: SOAP-driven SOA components have been in there a long time, but shoring up REST APIs aligns well with how many developers prefer to code SOAs,” he said.

The list of new features in Zend Framework 1.9 includes:

  • Complete PHP 5.3 support. (also supports PHP 5.2)
  • Support for RESTful web services
  • Support for message queuing services: Amazon SQS, MemcacheQ, ApacheMQ
  • Updated LDAP protocol support for Microsoft ActiveDirectory and Novell eDirectory
  • Support for RSS and Atom feeds via a common API and higher performance cached HTTP
  • DBUnit capabilities added to database testing

The Zend Framework 1.9 is available now for download.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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