Agile, PHP called good match

Developing in short iterations works well with scripting language's object orientation, Zend exec says

Agile software development methods go well with PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor), a Zend Technologies official said when interviewed at the ZendCon conference in the US this week.

Scheduled to speak on the issue, Zend's Eddo Rotman, senior PHP engineer, cited PHP's object-oriented nature as a good fit for agile processes in which software is developed in short iterations rather than being mapped out in advance.

With agile, developers work on smaller pieces of an application. After a requirement changes, developers can change the code internally as an object.

Zend has used agile development to build Zend Platform, which is the company's application server. Developers, though, should examine whether agile is a good fit for their organization, Rotman said. Agile depends a lot on whether it will be accepted internally, he said, and might seem a bit disorganized to some.

"If your organization can't handle that, you shouldn't fight to put Agile in," Rotman said.

Meanwhile, an Adobe official at ZendCon cited use of PHP at the company in a presentation on RIA (rich Internet application) development.

"I've never written a line of ColdFusion in my life and we use PHP all the time at Adobe," said Lee Brimelow, Adobe platform evangelist. Intended for building Internet applications, ColdFusion is Adobe's server-side Java application partnered with a markup language.

RIAs, Brimelow said, are browser-based Web applications that offer features and functionality of a traditional desktop application. He cited several popular client-side RIA technologies, including Adobe's Flash and Flex, AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript) and XML and the Silverlight and JavaFX technologies under development by Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, respectively.

JavaFX, he said "is something that Sun is working on that's pretty much largely being ignored."

RIAs offer a much richer UI than is possible with HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), Brimelow said. But there are potential disadvantages, such as accommodating RIAs in search engines.

"This is something that still hasn't been figured out properly," Brimelow said.

Brimelow compared Adobe's Flex to PHP. Whereas Flex is client-side, PHP is a server-side technology, but both are object-oriented. The Flex Builder and Zend Studio IDEs are based on Eclipse.

There is no right or wrong way to integrate PHP and Flex; using XML is the simplest way, Brimelow said. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) serialization also can be used.

Brimelow also touted Adobe's AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) technology, now in development, for building Internet applications that can on the desktop. "Essentially, AIR is basically, 'Forget the browser. You're now developing desktop applications'," Brimelow said.

AIR offers features such as network detection, file IO, drag and drop, and clipboard access.

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