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Zend Framework 1.0 Ready To Compete

Since its inception 11 years ago, PHP has been a language for the Web. Now with the release of the Zend Framework 1.0 today, PHP becomes a language for Web applications and Web services enterprise applications.

Zend Framework 1.0 is an open source framework for PHP that brings it in closer competition with JavaEE and .NET than ever before.

The effort began back in October of 2005 with the first public development release appearing in March of 2006. Zend co-founder Andi Gutmans claims that they have had over 1 million downloads since the first Zend Framework development build was released, have received contributions from over 230 developers and had the support of both IBM and Google. Zend is one of the lead commercial sponsors of PHP development.

"The adoption that we've seen pre-release has amazed us, we didn't plan for that," Gutmans told internetnews.com.

Gutmans also noted that the level of contributions that the project has received also exceed expectations. One such example cited by Gutmans was documentation.

"Documentation was important for us when we began the effort, but we didn’t imagine that we'd have 16 translations; we were just planning on English. A lot of things like that happened," Gutmans said.

At the heart of the Zend Frameworks are the framework components which aim to make it easier and faster to deploy Web applications and take advantage of Web Services. Among the components in the framework is the GData component which enables the framework to create mash-ups  and better utilize Google components that use GData. Zend Framework also has support for Amazon, Flickr and Yahoo APIs under the Zend_Service module.

Gutmans expects that over time Zend Framework will organically end up in Linux distributions, much the same as PHP is now included in all versions of Linux. Beyond Linux, Gutmans said Zend is working with Microsoft as part of a deal inked last year and as such Zend Framework will work on the Windows platform as well.

Out of the gate, IBM will be using Zend Framework in its QEDWiki application and Gutmans expects that many other ISVs  will redistribute Zend Framework as well.

IBM  is also working with the Zend Framework community on further extending the JSON support available to PHP developers. Zend_Xml2Json will be a server component that enables XML to JSON conversion at the middleware server layer. Gutmans said the component is not in the 1.0 release but he expects to be including it in a future 1.1 release once it's production-ready.

Also on the future roadmap is AJAX tooling for the Zend framework. Gutmans first explained the AJAX tool at the AjaxWorld Conference earlier this year. When completed, the Zend component model Ajax tool will be a full development environment complete with drag-and-drop components, cross-language debugging and advanced CSS support. Gutmans noted that it will still take more time for that functionality and that it would likely come even later than a 1.1 release.

Ultimately it is the continued participation of contributors and ISVs that Gutmans expects will help grow the framework, both in terms of feature and adoption.

"The health of the partner and development ecosystem and our ability to build the ecosystem will be our main success metric," Gutmans said.