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Zend PHP Framework Builds on Big-Name Support

It's no longer just a .NET or Java world when it comes to production-quality development frameworks -- PHP is edging its way into developers' affections. Now, the technology's backers are planning further efforts to expand on its successes.

Zend, PHP's lead commercial sponsor, plans Monday to release its eponymous Framework 1.5, the first major release since 1.0 debuted last year.

The launch will build on the framework's significant momentum to date. According to Zend, the framework has had over four million downloads.

Additionally, the Zend Framework has received votes of confidence in the form of contributions from and joint development with major vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Fox Interactive Media and Google.

Building on those relationships, a marquee feature in the 1.5 release will be full support for Google's newly announced YouTube APIs.

"Google has people that are actively contributing to Zend Framework," Andi Gutmans, Zend's CTO, told InternetNews.com. "As part of their rollout plans for the YouTube APIs, Zend Framework was a very important part because of the broad reach of the PHP community."

"There was work going on behind the scenes before their announcement to make sure it all worked together," Gutmans added.

The new release will also give a boost to Ajax support , with infrastructure improvements to handle Ajax requests as well as coding autocomplete, shortcut and form support features.

Gutmans said he expects the next version of Zend Framework will provide even better Ajax support with tighter integration for Ajax toolkits like Dojo.

The launch will build on burgeoning interest and support for the Zend Framework, which began in earnest in October 2005. The framework's first public development release appeared in March 2006.

Since then, the effort has been attracting attention from many of the big names in software development.

Google, for instance, has been contributing to the project since at least December 2006, when it first included the GData module. The module is used in most of Google's APIs, including those for Google Calendar, Blogger Data, Google Base, Spreadsheets and Google Code Search.

Google archrival Microsoft has also lent a hand to the PHP effort so that the company's InfoCard identity technology will work with the framework.

Most recently, Zend's active partnership with Microsoft led to PHP being certified for use on Windows Server 2008.

While Zend has teamed with the software giant for core PHP support in Windows, other potential areas of collaboration remain untapped, however. For example, the two are not currently working integrating Microsoft .NET into the framework.

Gutmans said that some customers have asked about such integration, but the two companies remain in a "discovery phase" for the moment.

With support from large players like Google and Microsoft, it's not surprising that PHP's backers have high hopes for the near future -- including potentially taking share from Java and .NET.

"Obviously, PHP is growing and over time, we are displacing other languages," Gutmans said.