Zend looks to optimize PHP for mobile devices and the cloud

Zend Framework and the Zend Studio IDE are getting improvements, with an emphasis on mobile access to apps and cloud portability

PHP development tools maker Zend Technologies will make mobile access to applications a critical part of its product strategy on Tuesday, along with emphasizing cloud computing.

Improvements will be detailed involving upgrades to the company's Zend Framework, which is an open source framework for development, and the Zend Studio IDE. PHP is a dynamic scripting language for server-side Web application development.

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With Zend Framework 1.11, Zend will help developers optimize Web applications for mobile devices. "I think mobile is more important than cloud," Zend CEO Andi Gutmans said. Customers are making mobile access their top priority, he said.

"We're going to allow you from the server side to detect what mobile device is accessing your website. We will map that to capabilities that the device has," such as determinations on screen size, Gutmans said.

Available Tuesday, Zend Framework 1.11 will support a variety of mobile devices and platforms via Web access, including Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, and most likely Windows Phone 7 when it comes out, said Gutmans. For the Apple iPhone, which is geared to native applications, access will be granted via Web services. Among the application types that will benefit from mobile access include field service, e-commerce, and content-based applications, Gutmans said.

Version 1.11 also will support Simple Cloud API, which is intended to enable portability of applications across different cloud platforms. "What we're doing is we're actually creating [something] like a JDBC for the cloud," said Gutmans, recalling the Java-based database access API.

Zend will be the first to support Simple Cloud API, Gutmans said. Simple Cloud API initially works with PHP although it can be extended to other languages. Other vendors supporting it have included Microsoft, IBM, and RackSpace.

Zend also will announce its cloud computing strategy, which adds to existing cloud capabilities.

"We want to deliver a scalable, manageable, and highly available system architecture, out of the box," said Gutmans. The company in the next year plans to map out cloud capabilities for full application lifecycle integration, staging and production, scalable deployment, and deeper integration with cloud management and infrastructure providers. Cloud capabilities will be featured in Zend Framework, the Zend Server application server, and Zend Studio.

Zend is making its announcements at the ZendCon 2010 conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Also at the conference, Zend will announce general availability of Zend Studio 8.0. "It's the leading PHP IDE in the industry," Gutmans said.

Zend Studio is based around the Eclipse PHP Development Tools project, providing proprietary value-added capabilities, such as refactoring, profiling, and remote file system capabilities.

New to version 8 is integration with VMware Workstation software for desktop virtualization for Windows and Linux. This makes it easier to deploy PHP applications to Linux, Gutmans said. Developers get emulation of their production environment. Also featured is better AJAX support, with capabilities for code assist, debugging, Web request profiling and support for AJAX toolkits, such as jQuery and Dojo. Zend with Zend Studio 8.0 is reducing the price of the product from $399 to $299.

PHP, Gutmans said, continues to gain momentum in Web application deployments. "It was built for the Web," he said.

Java, meanwhile, is too complicated, Gutmans argued. "Enterprise Java is really not gaining a lot of new workloads when it comes to the Web," GUtmans said. "It was really not designed with the Web in mind."

This article, "Zend looks to optimize PHP for mobile devices and the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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