|New PHP Toolkit, New Oracle Connectivity Highlight Zend Server 5.1|
|Analysis - Analysis of News Events|
|Written by Chris Smith|
|Friday, 27 May 2011 00:00|
An XML open-source toolkit, addressing programmer-requested needs, is the latest child from the Zend-IBM partnership.
With all the emphasis on planning these days, I have to say there are times when it's better just to act and amaze yourself with how much gets done as a result. I was trying to arrange a meeting with the folks at Zend last week as they left from different points on the globe for COMMON Europe in Milan, Italy, but we finally threw up our hands and just decided to get it done—right now!
Michael Scarpato, Zend's IBM alliance director, and Mike Pavlak, Zend solutions consultant and recent winner of COMMON's Al Barsa Memorial Scholarship, are always high energy, so catching them on the fly for a quick interview usually results in a treasure trove of new information.
The big news out of Zend Technologies this month for the IBM i folks is Zend Server for IBM i 5.1 and the new PHP Toolkit packaged with it.
"First and foremost in Zend Server 5.1 is we have a new database connector for companies who are running Oracle in their shop so that now—from IBM i—they can use PHP to attach to an Oracle database," Pavlak said.
As most of us know, coming into IBM i and DB2 from outside the machine is eminently workable. Trying to connect the other way to external databases from within IBM i is more of a challenge. Being able to easily connect to an Oracle database, presumably running on another machine that has, say, AIX running on it, will be welcome news to many larger businesses. The request for this feature, in fact, came from the LUG to IBM, and in turn to Zend. With the broader adoption of AIX by business users, most of whom are in larger companies, this feature will help integrate data residing on Oracle with that in DB2.
What is likely of even greater interest to the IBM i community and its host of smaller companies that run it is the new open-source XML PHP Toolkit packaged now with Zend Server 5.1. Note that while the latest version of Zend Server is GA, the XML toolkit is a public beta, the private beta having been released earlier this spring. Also, users don't have to download Zend Server in order to try the new toolkit. It's being distributed from the Young i Professionals Web site!
What is the toolkit, and what does it do? Based on the IBM_DB2 extension, the PHP Toolkit enables easy access to IBM i applications, data, and proprietary features.
"We're really excited about the toolkit," said Scarpato. "It's completely open source…so it can be extended for additional functionality by other people in the community. It was developed as a collaborative project between IBM and Zend—we were very pleased to work with them on that—and it takes advantage of the standard IBM i mechanisms, things like DB2 connections, stored procedures, and RPG ILE, etc. We're looking forward to the increased performance that we're expecting it to deliver when released for GA."
The new toolkit addresses several needs that users, including YiPs, had previously identified. One might even call the missing elements of the former toolkit "shortcomings," depending on what you do with it. Programmers who have used it have seen a need to be able to call subprocedures and receive back parameters other than just an integer, according to Pavlak. "This new toolkit gives you full parameter passing between not only programs, but also subprocedures in RPG programs," he said. For some programmers out there, this apparently is an important feature and is available now in the new XML toolkit, which is fully supported by Zend Studio.
"One of the primary things about this new toolkit is that it is object-oriented," says Pavlak. "While that may be a concern for those in the procedural programming realm, it is extremely easy to use. Perhaps one of the most attractive features is that an existing program call with—let's say, two parameters—might take as much as 15-20 lines of code with the current toolkit…can be done with as few as five lines of code with the new toolkit," says Pavlak. "So we're reducing the footprint of the actual application program. Obviously, there is more code behind it because it's an object-oriented approach, and there is a lot of code in the class, but the programmer doesn't have to worry about what is in the class.
"Now, if they want to affect the behavior of that class," continues Pavlak, "they have the source code right there, and they can go ahead and tinker with it."
The question of which toolkit is included with Zend Server has become clearer now with the decision by Zend and IBM to create a completely new toolkit separate from that which has been bundled with Zend Core and Zend Server for IBM i since 2006. The original developer of the bundled PHP Toolkit was Aura Equipments of France, a leader in interoperability and modernization for IBM i that has concentrated on data management. Its Easycom for PHP V3 toolkit will continue to be bundled with Zend Server for the time being, Scarpato says, and Zend and Aura continue to share a business relationship.
However, Aura released Easycom 4 this month just prior to COMMON, and it's unclear whether that version will be available from Zend, but it is, of course, available from Aura. Users will want to check the features of Zend's new XML toolkit against Easycom 3 and Easycom 4 to see which version is right for them. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that because the new Zend/ IBM toolkit is open source, it's free. Details surrounding management of the open-source project still are being worked out, according to Pavlak.
"We have customers on that [Easycom 3] toolkit, and we want to help people who are on it stay there if they want to," says Scarpato. "A choice is very much our thinking. It's not necessarily that you have to use one or the other, or one replaces the other…[the new toolkit] is a different type of technology approach; it's open-source XML. And it does try to address some of the issues we've encountered previously, so it's out there for the IBM i PHP community to make use of."
"Probably more than anything else," says Pavlak, "is that we would love to hear from users about how they feel about the toolkit beta. We would love to hear them saying that they are trying it, what their experiences are with it, and get their feedback." Users who wish to comment about the new PHP Toolkit may do so through the Zend Forums.
as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 17:20|