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Got Web Services With PHP?

The Apache-backed PHP Group is rolling out the first Release Candidate of PHP 5, an upgrade to the programming language that adds built-in SOAP extensions for Web Services interoperability.

Released Friday, the RC1 beta is a significant milestone for the open source PHP programming language, which ships standard with a number of Web servers.

The new PHP 5 beta comes with a brand new built-in SOAP extension for interoperability with Web Services, otherwise known as the "envelope" standard for messaging between applications. The new SimpleXML extension, which is geared for accessing and manipulating XML as PHP objects, is seen as a move to leverage the compatibility strengths that PHP enjoys among databases, for an often compatibility-challenged Web services movement.

Although add-ons have been available, the latest beta offers them built in. It can also interface with the DOM extension and vice-versa, the Group said.

Other PHP 5 key features include the use of Zend Engine II with a new object model and dozens of new features and a new MySQL extension named MySQLi for developers using MySQL 4.1 and later. XML support has also been completely redone in PHP5, with all extensions focused around the libxml2 library.

PHP 5 also bundles SQLite, the C library that implements an embeddable SQL database engine. PHP programs that link with the SQLite library can now have SQL database access without running a separate RDBMS process.

The PHP scripting language enjoys a large following among application developers. Because PHP is embedded within tags, code writers can jump between HTML and PHP (similar to ASP and Cold Fusion) instead of having to rely on heavy amounts of code to output HTML.

A full mission-critical version is slated for release in May this year.

Created in 1995 by Rasmus Lerdorf, the PHP language has seen startling usage growth since 1999. Indeed, Yahoo's recent adoption of PHP has helped raise its profile even more.