PHP Scripting Language Going Mainstream With Move Inside Eclipse Workbench - InformationWeek

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PHP Scripting Language Going Mainstream With Move Inside Eclipse Workbench

Scripting languages such as PHP are driving high-powered, high-speed Web content such as Google Maps, raising their profile and credibility

PHP, the popular Web site scripting language, will soon be used in conjunction with mainstream programming languages, now that its parent firm, Zend Technologies Inc., joined the Eclipse Foundation as a strategic developer.

Zend will lend its expertise to an Eclipse "dynamic language" project that will let developers using integrated tools for scripting languages plug them into the Eclipse programmer's workbench. Eclipse plug-ins are development tools that follow Eclipse file formats and programming conventions.

If developer tools for PHP become Eclipse plug-ins, developers will find it easier to work with PHP alongside the Eclipse-ready C++, Java, and Microsoft's C# tools to develop Web applications. Code can move from one Eclipse-based tool to another and the files can be orchestrated to work together. "The (developer) community out there wants to link these things together," says Rod Smith, IBM's VP of emerging technology. IBM donated the original source code that became the Eclipse workbench.

PHP has been valuable to Web site developers because it can link an application in one language to code or Web page content built in a different language, a reflection of the way many Web sites work.

President Doron Gerstel says Zend will lead "a coalition" of independent software vendors and individual developers to design a scripting language interface for Eclipse. PHP will be one of the primary benefactors because "it's at the crucial tipping point" where it can gain wider usage if it becomes easier to integrate with other tools, he says.

Both PHP and Eclipse are based on open source code. But until now, PHP and other scripting languages have not been incorporated into the rapidly growing Eclipse programmer's workbench. Eclipse says hundreds of tools now work on Eclipse as plug-ins. Both IBM and Borland Corp. say their future software tools will be based on Eclipse. Scripting languages are often referred to as "dynamic" languages because scripting language code can be run immediately without having to go through a slow, compile phase. Scripting languages are run through a software interpreter rather than compiled, which allow for quick changes in how Web sites work.

But they have also been looked upon as lesser languages than the C family, including C++, C#, and Java. Yet their simplicity and ease-of-use have gained them a lot of currency of late among Web site developers, since Google, Yahoo!, and other major sites have illustrated the power of Javascript, the language used in AJAX, which was used to build Google Maps. "You see PHP on the Internet. It results in rapid development and short turnaround time for applications, such as those using E-commerce," says Andi Gutmans, VP technology at the Israeli company. Gutmans, along with Zend CTO Zeev Suraski, is the author of PHP 3.0, which became a widely used version of the language.

Both Oracle Corp. and IBM collaborated with Zend earlier this year to produce software that assisted developers in linking PHP to their databases. The integration software was called Zend Core for Oracle and Zend Core for IBM.

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