Microsoft Bridges PHP to ADO.NET Data Services

In its latest bid to show its support for PHP, Microsoft late last week released a toolkit that will bridge the popular scripting language to .NET-based data-driven applications.

Microsoft's PHP ToolKit for ADO.NET Data Services is an open source project sponsored by the company and developed by Persistent Systems, a venture-backed provider of outsourced software development services.

The toolkit, available for download on Microsoft's open source hosting site CodePlex, is designed to let PHP developers invoke Microsoft's ADO.NET Data Services, formerly known as Project Astoria.

ADO.NET Data Services, added last year to the .NET Framework 3.5, exposes numerous data sources ranging from traditional relational databases to XML files through RESTful Web services, said Claudio Caldato, a senior program manager for Microsoft's Interoperability Technical Strategy team in a blog posting Friday.

"The goal is to make it easier for PHP developers to consume data that is exposed through ADO.NET Data Services," Caldata said in a video presentation embedded in the blog posting.

The bridge will be critical for interoperability between PHP and .NET-based data-driven applications, said Stephen Forte chief strategy officer at Telerik, in an email. "This will make Astoria (ADO.NET Data Services) easier to use for PHP developers, helping Astoria adoption," Forete noted. "Supporting PHP is also an admission that Microsoft is serious about interoperability and views PHP as important."

IDC analyst Al Hilwa agreed. "This technology is neat and shows Microsoft is paying attention to PHP and the 'other side' of Web developers it typically has not paid attention to in the past." Hilwa said in an email.

Microsoft has been ramping up its PHP support of late, most recently for Azure and SQL Server, Hilwa noted. "This particular [tool] caters to a style of interoperability that is really becoming more popular, namely connecting through REST interfaces."

Nevertheless most agree that Microsoft's PHP support is an acknowledgement that customers are looking to reduce costs. "I think it's recession-related," said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at twenty New York.  "Software companies seem to invest more in supporting heterogeniety when they know their customers have to make due with the mixed environments that they have."

In his blog posting, Caldeta pointed to two key aspects of the PHP toolkit: first it generates proxy classes based on metadata exposed via ADO.NET Data Services.
Secondly, at run time, developers can call PHP proxy classes from their code making it easier program against the ADO.NET Data Service using local PHP classes. "Using RESTful services over HTTP, the communication between the PHP application and ADO.NET Data Services is taken care of by the PHP proxy classes and the Toolkit libraries," he noted, "but of course you can look at (or edit) this code."
The toolkit can be downloaded here.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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