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11/4/2010
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Zend Framework Adds PHP Cloud Features

PHP is a language frequently used on the Web, and the Zend Framework is adapting it for building cloud applications.

Frameworks rule with their ability to augment the programming skills of a developer. The Spring Framework has taken over much of the rapid application building segment of the Java world. When it comes to PHP, the Zend Framework keeps adding to what it can do.

PHP is used in many Web applications and Web services and Zend Technologies, supplier of the open source scripting language, has just made the Zend Framework Release 1.11 generally available. Zend held its annual user conference in Santa Clara, Calif., this week in conjunction with the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo. CEO Andi Gutmans described the enhancements to the framework in a keynote at the show.

Both the Spring Framework and Zend Framework “are benefitting from the trend to move away from the heavy, Enterprise Edition of Java,” with graduating computer science students showing a marked preference for full, open source languages, said Gutmans in a pre-show interview.

The 1.11 release has incorporated the Simple Cloud API, which allows a developer to build an application that can seek one type of service from different cloud suppliers. The application might need a cloud storage service and could seek it from any cloud honoring the Simple Cloud Storage Service API. Those that do currently are Amazon Simple Storage Service or S3, Nirvanix and Microsoft Windows Azure Blob storage. The Simple Cloud API was an open source initiative launched last year by Zend, IBM, Microsoft, Nirvanix, RackSpace and GoGrid.

Gutmans said its use by developers gives application users a way of avoiding being locked into a particular cloud vendor. The more widely Simple Cloud API is used, the more likely it is that many cloud vendors will support it, he noted.

In addition, Simple Cloud API gives developers an API through which they may access Amazon’s SimpleDB and Windows Azure Table, both NoSQL-based cloud data storage systems. Queue Service in Simple Cloud API allows developers to perform operations across different cloud queue services and integrate several of them, including Amazon Simple Queue System, Windows Azure Queue Service, and services supported by the Zend Framework’s Zend_Queue.

The framework supports quick implementation of these services by handling many of the API details as a service is added to an application. API details become quite complex as more and more variations of a service or types of services are added to the API. Java Enterprise Edition has powerful but complex APIs.

Applications built with Zend Framework now have support for detecting what type of mobile device is accessing the application and its capabilities. The support will speed the production of iPhone and Android applications, Gutmans said.

AJAX continues to be widely used for interactive user interfaces in Web applications, and the 1.11 release of the framework now offers the Dojo Toolkit 1.5 with mobile support, he said. Such support makes it easier to use JavaScript widgets and other active features where the application responds to end user input.

Gutman said these and other changes are putting the Zend Framework in a position to build applications that work efficiently in cloud settings. The framework is beginning to offer “a system architecture out of the box for the cloud application lifecycle.” Developers will be able to rely on the framework to continue to make rapid changes to an application once it’s in production and add cloud services as needed.

As the PHP framework continues to be developed, “We’ll leverage whatever cloud infrastructure you want,” he said.

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