PHP dominance cited at Zend event

Company executives highlight usage of scripting language and map out future

The PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) server-side scripting language is at the heart of a major change in the software industry, with applications reconfigured for Web enablement and users become more involved, Harold Goldberg, CEO of Zend Technologies, said this week at the Zend/PHP Conference in California.

Goldberg cited four major business trends affecting applications, including extending existing applications; unlocking information; exploiting of applications, including reusing Web code and using Web services; and end-user participation.

"What we're doing is we're modernizing applications. We're taking applications built 20, 20, 40, 10 years ago and bringing them into the future," Goldberg said.

"We're really taking business applications and modernizing," which is a huge opportunity, he said.

"I think what we're saying here is PHP has grown up. It's ready for enterprise, mission-critical applications, and it should be used that way," said Goldberg. Zend Framework, the company's class library for PHP, has surpassed 2.5 million downloads, he said.

Goldberg cited several examples of PHP users, including In Ticketing, Fiat, and AccuWeather, modernizing their operations using the language.

Fiat uses PHP for an application connecting headquarters systems to dealerships in Europe, said Daniele Vigna, Fiat program manager. The application accommodates CRM and business process engineering.

"PHP was chosen because of the time to market," in developing and customizing the front-end application, Vigna said.

About one-third of the Internet, which would be about 20 million to 30 million Web sites, runs on PHP, said Goldberg.

Zend made several announcements, including unveiling a beta release of Zend Studio for Eclipse, an IDE that can bridge the PHP and Java worlds, said Andi Gutmans, co-CTO of Zend.

Zend also plans more investments in the rich Internet applications space. Zend Studio for Eclipse has JavaScript support, and the company is eyeing AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) tooling as well. More AJAX support will be provided in Zend Framework; default widgets will be based on the Dojo AJAX framework.

To bolster JavaScript support, Zend could deliver improved tools, best practices, and methodologies as part of Zend Framework, Gutmans said.

Zend's vision for the future includes a heterogeneous stack featuring rich clients, development tools and databases, runtime and management, best practices and reuse, dynamic languages, Web servers, and operating systems.

Microsoft, meanwhile, unveiled a technology preview of a driver linking its SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 databases to PHP applications. The general release is expected in the first half of next year.

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